4 insights from city school leaders

Media stories about large metropolitan school districts usually focus on their challenges rather than the influential work they are doing to help students succeed.

As a former Great City School Council (CGCS) CIO who has spent part of my career working in the larger school system, I have collaborated with countless talented, intelligent, and inspiring education leaders. Many of these relationships have been developed through my active participation in CGCS, a non-profit organization that aims to “promote the cause of urban schools and support inter-city students through law, research and media relations.” Founded in 1956, the agency now includes 77 of the largest urban public school systems in the country.

The recently retired executive director of CGCS and now strategic adviser Dr. Michael Caserley, who has been with the company for more than 40 years, and its managing services director, Dr. Robert Carlson, who has worked in public education for 60 years, 30 of whom he has spent at CGCS, has witnessed tremendous progress in large school districts. They shared four key reflections during their tenure with the company.

Technology seats on the table

When Dr. Caserley and Dr. Carlson started at CGCS, technology was in its infancy. Now, many public urban school district CIO / CTO positions have moved from the second or third level management level to the enterprise level. According to Dr. Carlson, this change in leadership structure was much needed. “Technology plays a key role in achieving and aligning the five core functions of a public school district – people, products, goods, money and information,” said Dr. Carlson.

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