I’m thrilled with Collier County’s choice of Kamela Patton of Miami to be the next superintendent of our public school district. I agree with everyone involved that the choice between Patton and current Collier Schools Chief Operations Office Michele LaBute was a really difficult one. Each candidate is incredibly talented and would serve us well. I’m looking forward to Patton’s arrival on July 1 and to watching how she engages the community. I have no doubt she will be great.
Since Patton comes from the Miami-Dade School District, which is the country’s fourth largest, I was especially interested in an article in today’s Miami Herald titled “Two Superintendents: One’s Star Rises; One Has Fallen.” The article compares Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and Broward Superintendent Jim Notter – and Carvalho is the rising star.
Read these excerpts, and consider that Carvalho is currently Patton’s boss:
Alberto Carvalho, the Miami-Dade superintendent, balanced the district’s broken budget, rejuvenated troubled schools and united a School Board known for its squabbling. Poised, polished and politically savvy, Carvalho quickly became a power player in state and national education circles. When the economy imploded, he was the first educational leader to call on the federal government to provide funding for local school districts. Soon after, the White House unveiled a similar plan.
He is often invited to speak alongside the country’s top educators at national conferences, and has visited the White House and U.S. Department of Education to discuss policy. Even President Barack Obama has been lavish in his praise of Carvalho, calling the superintendent “impressive” in a visit to a Miami-Dade school last month.
Running a big-city school district is a high-wire act, demanding equal parts administrative skill, business know-how and political acumen. It also requires luck, timing and thick skin. …
Carvalho became superintendent of Miami-Dade district in 2008 after the School Board drove out high-profile schools chief Rudy Crew. It was an ugly and politically charged breakup. …
Elegantly attired in imported suits, sometimes accented with an Hermes tie, Carvalho quickly became a commanding presence at Miami-Dade School Board meetings. He speaks with confidence and authority from the dais. When board members have questions, Carvalho would rather answer himself than defer to a deputy. At least once each meeting, he works the room like the lobbyist he once was, shaking hands with audience members and greeting them by name.
Carvalho is equally at ease in front of the cameras. A onetime district spokesman, he often touts the accomplishments of his schools in the local media. He is a fixture at galas and charity events around town. …
In 2009, as the economy tanked, … Carvalho charted a different course. Putting his political know-how and smooth persona to work, Carvalho assumed the role of broker between the School Board and the administration. He put an end to the bickering at public meetings by dealing with individual board members and their grievances behind the scenes.
“Carvalho has shown himself to be masterful at keeping the board in order,” said Brian Peterson, a Florida International University professor and school district observer. “He’s kept the board marching in a straight line and avoiding trouble.”
Over the years, the power has shifted from board members to Carvalho. Some liken him to an invisible hand setting the agenda. But few will criticize him publicly, partly because of his popularity and partly because they believe Carvalho has put the system on the right track.
Among his accomplishments, Carvalho made sweeping changes at Central and Edison high schools, allowing the long-struggling schools to begin making gains. From Homestead to Aventura, student achievement soared, especially among Hispanic students.
In handling the economic crisis, rather than jettison teachers, Carvalho made cuts to the central administration and dumped the district’s longtime health insurance provider. The strategy saved millions and improved the district’s public image.
Though teachers’ union President Karen Aronowitz had been at war with the district, she said last year that Carvalho “might be the best superintendent in the nation.”
Now that’s what I’d call a compliment.
Carvalho’s recommendation of Patton, included in her application packet, says:
… Over the years I have come to know Dr. Patton as a colleague who is committed to the best interest of students and the community as a whole. She possesses outstanding organizational skills, an ability to collaborate with a broad range of stakeholders, and the capacity to achieve success.
Dr. Kamela Patton is a student centered leader who recognizes that the most important mission of any school district is to maximize teaching and learning for all children. In my opinion, she is ready for the next level of leadership, and it is a pleasure to recommend her for this opportunity.
Wow. Recommended by a star.