Members of the African American Leadership Forum (AALF) were saddened to hear the announcement of Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson resignation. The legacy of Superintendent Johnson will be “Putting Children First.” Superintendent Johnson has forged partnerships and alliances with high performing schools, both locally and nationally, in order to create more high quality educational seats for the children of Minneapolis; even if it has meant, at times, incurring the dissatisfaction of some adults.
AALF has been a strong supporter of Superintendent Johnson throughout her tenure; and, she in turn, has been a willing partner with AALF in its educational goal of closing the achievement gap for the children of Minneapolis by 2020. We believe that the children of Minneapolis could not have had a better and more supportive school leader.
Superintendent Johnson has left in place a strong leadership team to take over for her. CEO Michael Goar will become Interim Superintendent, and Chief of Schools Michael Thomas will provide organizational stability during the transition.
While school superintendents get most of the blame for the intransigent achievement gap with which we are all faced, it should be known that this is an issue for, and responsibility of, not only the superintendents, but the governor, the mayors, business and philanthropic leaders, university presidents, and members of the community. In point of fact, Generation Next, an organization headed by former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, was created in 2012 with the express mission of forming a Collective Impact approach to closing the achievement gap. The leadership group of Generation Next is made up of the superintendents of Minneapolis and St. Paul Public schools, the presidents of the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the leaders of Twin Cities major corporations and philanthropic organizations, and organizations involved in educating children from “Cradle to Career.” Thus, while the superintendent is the figurehead in the Minneapolis effort to close the pernicious achievement gap, we all share the responsibility.
AALF applauds Superintendent Johnson’s decision to make her family the priority in her life. We know it was a hard decision to make. It is a difficult choice to decide between the care of one’s parents and one’s job. We believe that Superintendent has made the right choice in making her family the priority. We can also learn and take a lesson from her decision. We will miss Superintendent Johnson’s leadership, and wish her and her family well and God’s blessings!