Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson will step down at the end of this school year, she said this week. She has held the job since August 2007 and is expected to formally retire in July.
“Dr. Johnson is one of the most compassionate, caring and talented Superintendents in the United States,” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said in a statement Wednesday, as the Reporter went to press. “She continued the extraordinary transformation of our schools and from day one has focused on creating better schools and offering great classrooms for every child. I often say that she has one of the hardest jobs in the city and she has done it well.”
Johnson pointed to improved high school graduation rates and MCAS scores during her tenure, along with an increase turnaround in-district charter and innovation schools.
But after six years at the job and the death this year of her husband of nearly 40 years, Johnson said it was time for her to turn her attention to her family. “This has been a difficult decision, but as you aware, the loss of my husband and best friend Matthew last month has been life-altering for me and my entire family,” she said in a statement.
Johnson’s tenure has come in for criticism as well. City Councillor At-Large John Connolly, the chair of the Council’s Education Committee, called for her resignation last year after Johnson did not discipline an O’Bryant School headmaster despite learning he had been arrested on a domestic assault charged. The headmaster eventually resigned and Johnson apologized for the inaction.
Her tenure received a ringing endorsement from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Gov. Deval Patrick, and Mass. Secretary of Education Matthew Malone, among others.
"A former teacher, Carol Johnson understands that strong school systems are built classroom by classroom,” Duncan said in one of several statements from various elected officials and education experts that were distributed by the school department. “She has done extraordinary work for Boston's students and families. Every time I visit Boston, I come away hopeful about our country's future and the potential of our urban schools.”