Los Angeles school administrator Tommy Chang, who is vying to lead Boston’s public schools, fielded a wide range of questions and touted his track record Tuesday at a series of community events. Chang was the second of four candidates for school superintendent to meet with community leaders and School Committee members. He made the following remarks at a morning forum in downtown Boston.
On improving struggling schools:
“You need an intense focus on instruction. If you don’t change what’s going on in the classroom, things aren’t going to change.”
On narrowing achievement gaps:
Chang quoted Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” that the country was moving “at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.”
“For many of our youth, that cup of coffee is their education. There is no silver bullet here. But we have to be relentless.”
On special education:
“We live in an inclusive world, so why are students being segregated [by classroom]? Every single school should serve every single kid.”
On Common Core standards and standardized testing:
“There is great opportunity with Common Core, but we need to be very careful.”
On diversity in hiring:
Chang said improving education would encourage more graduates to eventually return to teach. “People come back to the community to serve when they get a great education there.”
The other finalists are Dana Bedden, superintendent in Richmond; Pedro Martinez, a former superintendent working on school overhaul in Nevada; and Guadalupe Guerrero, a deputy superintendent in San Francisco.
Boston’s School Committee is expected to choose the new superintendent March 3.
More on Tommy Chang:
Professional: As instructional superintendent for the Los Angeles school district’s Intensive Support & Innovation Center, he oversees more than 130 schools and some 95,000 students. More than 80 percent are Hispanic, and 95 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. A former teacher and principal, he previously served as special assistant to the superintendent of the Los Angeles public schools.
Education: Holds a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Loyola Marymount University, a master’s degree from UCLA, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Fun facts: As a teacher at Compton High School, he developed the AP biology curriculum and raised more than $10,000 to support the program. He also coached the girls’ softball team.