Last Wednesday, Mississippi hired Dr. Carey Wright as its first (permanent) female superintendent of education.
Wright holds a Master’s of education in administration and a Doctorate in education policy analysis. A portion of her 41-year background in the education industry is summarized by the Sun Herald:
“Wright served decades in Maryland, which has become one of the highest academic achievers among states. During six years as associate superintendent for special education and student services in Montgomery County, Wright said she pushed a more inclusive approach for special education students, leading to better academic results.”
Her latest post was Washington, D.C., where she became chief academic officer. After leaving in March, she started an education consulting firm. Since December 2012, she has been in the running for several education administration positions across the country. Her position in Mississippi will likely start early November, with a yearly compensation of about $300,000 if the Mississippi legislature approves her by the end of the 2014 session.
The Clarion Ledger noted a recommendation made by Michelle Rhee, former hot-button Chancellor of D.C. schools.
“‘At DC Public Schools, Dr. Carey Wright led a number of initiatives — including expanding AP classes and implementing a new teacher assessment system — that increased the quality of schools for thousands of children,’ a statement from Rhee issued Wednesday says. ‘Carey’s passion and commitment to delivering a high quality education to all students never wavered. Students and families in Mississippi are lucky to have her serving as their state superintendent.'”
Though Rhee has been known as an aggressive reformer, Wright has differentiated her own style as less upheaving. Her colleagues also believe she’s easier to work with.
But another question arising from her D.C. connections is the recent 2011-2012 testing scandal, in which some D.C. teachers changed student test answers to improve scores. While Carey was apparently not involved in the scandal, the candidate search firm of Ray and Associates has gotten flack for not mentioning the issue to the Mississippi School Board when suggesting her for the job. This is not the first time Ray and Associates has been chided for withholding information.
A number of Mississippians are happy with the choice, and Wright is excited about the opportunity.
“‘I feel there’s a tremendous amount of untapped potential in the state,’ Wright said in a written statement. “My background and experience are what drew me to apply for this position.'”
As Wright’s administration gets into swing, it will be interesting to see what unleashing that “untapped potential” looks like in Mississippi.