Escambia School District needs to hire Eric Smith

Escambia County public schools need a CEO – Chief Education Officer. A great candidate is Eric Smith, the outgoing Florida Secretary of Education.

Smith was hired in 1996 as the Superintendent of Schools in Charlotte, N.C. When he started the district had 22 failing schools, none when he left. Minority kids showed more that “adequate yearly improvement” under his leadership. Reading and math scores went up. In 1992, there were 77 black students in AP and International Baccalaureate courses. By 2000, there were 1,000. Smith was named the nation’s top urban educator by the Council of the Great City Schools.

Before his appointment to DOE Secretary, Smith was Senior Vice President for College Readiness for The College Board. He was responsible for leading the EXCELerator project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which aims to prepare all students for college. The project is now implemented in five school districts across the country, including Duval and Hillsborough in Florida, inspiring nearly 45,000 students.

Every school district that Smith has led has seen significant gains in academic achievement, increased enrollment in rigorous coursework and advanced studies, improved reading and math scores, and meaningful progress toward lessening the achievement gap among minority student populations.

Maybe Escambia County should elect a solid community or leader as superintendent of schools, who in turn would hire an education superstar like Smith.