Friday, August 8, 2008


I recently felt the need to express my support for the Dade County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Rudy Crew, amid calls by many in the community for his ouster. Towards that end, I submitted an op-ed to the Miami Herald, which they unfortunately failed to publish. Because of my belief that this is an issue of great importance to our community, I have added my op-ed to this post, so that you may read it below:

When I was elected 7 years ago, the opportunity for a quality education for the youth of the City of Miami in public schools was questionable. 61% of our City’s schools were failing academically and our school buildings were falling apart from neglect and mismanagement. Education is THE stepping stone for opportunity and the City’s schools were in dire need of help to get out of the well of hopelessness. This drove me during my first year in office to fight for control over our schools at the state level. At the same time, the governor and the state legislature created the Miami-Dade Land Acquisition and Facilities Maintenance Operations Advisory Board. The advisory board was charged with overseeing the school district's land acquisition, facilities, maintenance, transportation and procurement departments. Dramatic change was needed one way or the other and our community was fed up and needed to do something.

My efforts to take over the City’s schools did not evolve as originally planned, but the search for a path to reform the Miami-Dade County Public School District remained a top priority, so much so, that I sat shoulder-to-shoulder with a cross section of vested members of the community from the business, government, and non-profit sectors set to focus on solutions for our community’s youth.

This lead to a nationwide search for a Superintendent that had the depth of understanding to take on the challenges we were facing in Miami-Dade County. As part of the Superintendent Selection Committee, it was clear to me that Rudy Crew had what we needed. This included leadership experience, high expectations, and an educator’s perspective. Our children needed the best, our community needed the best, and Dr. Crew was the best choice across the nation. St. Louis and Washington D.C. were also eagerly working at convincing him that their cities were the locations to invest his time and expertise in. The county’s business community stepped up to the table and invested in our community’s future and provided an additional incentive package with a clear expectation that student achievement would improve and innovations and investments would be made in the development of a better prepared workforce. Elected officials, community leaders, and a 7-2 School Board vote for Dr. Crew demonstrated that we were all vested in a new day for our schools.

Within his first days, Crew identified the system's three highest priorities: eliminating low performing schools, improving academic performance for all students, and improving business and construction practices. These are the reasons why our community fought to bring this nationally recognized leader and educator to our community and he has delivered.

For the third consecutive year, the Broad Foundation has selected Miami-Dade County Public Schools as a finalist for its prestigious annual prize to the nation’s most effective urban school district. 65,000 new student stations have been added to date to relieve schools that were overcrowded. Secondary school options available in Miami have been redefined with projects such as the Young Women’s Preparatory Academy; the Young Men’s Preparatory Academy, opening this August; and the upcoming High School of Law Studies, Forensic Science and Homeland Security within the City’s College of Policing. Enrollment and performance excellence in Advanced Placement and gifted courses across the county has increased substantially, particularly among minority students. And our very own City of Miami Education Compact has set the stage for other municipalities to take an active role in the education of their youth and establish education compacts within their municipalities.

Let me express this again. He has delivered and done so during some of the most challenging times our community and nation have faced. We brought Dr. Crew here for the kids in our community. He has raised the bar and they have soared with a focus not only on state accountability tests, but on being prepared for life as responsible citizens.

Oust the Superintendent? When looking at the facts at hand, it is unclear to me how or why this question is being posed at all. If our youth and the future of our community are at the heart of the decision, then let us focus on the facts and let the Superintendent get to the work that he does best. Leading our educational system.