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Johnson Picked as Minneapolis Superintendent

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The Minneapolis school board has picked Bernadeia Johnson, the district's deputy superintendent, as the next leader of Minnesota's largest school district.

The board unanimously chose Johnson as its sole finalist on Jan. 19 and then had her go through a process of meeting with communities throughout the city in public forums, along with a formal interview, before voting Tuesday night to place her as the permanent superintendent.

Two board members abstained from Tuesday's vote, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, to express their objection to the board not conducting a wider search.

I asked Johnson yesterday what her first steps were in the new job, and she's springing into action.

The first priority she listed was to "reduce the number of initiatives—that will assist with addressing workload for teachers, while allowing them to focus on teaching and learning."

In addition, Johnson wants to ensure all district employees have an accountability system, as principals and teachers do now. A "Connecting For Results" agenda is designed to get everyone from parents to corporate partners involved and focused on raising student achievement.

Also chief among goals is improving the academic outcomes of students of color in Minneapolis. The district signed a "covenant" in late 2008 with local African-American leaders, pledging to improve achievement gaps.

Johnson, the granddaughter of a former Minneapolis principal, has spent most of her education career as a teacher, principal and administrator in the Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts.

She also served as deputy superintendent in the Memphis, Tenn. school district under her mentor, Carol Johnson (no relation), a former Minneapolis superintendent who is now leading Boston's public schools.

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