In 1998, Alan Bersin became one of the nation’s best known non-traditional superintendents, as this former U.S. District Attorney took over the San Diego Public Schools. He immediately recruited Tony Alvarado, a well-known and respected New York educator, to turn around the district’s approach to teaching and learning—an effort that foreshadowed many of today’s struggles as schools work to implement the new Common Core standards.
By 2005 Bersin was out—despised by the teachers union and devoid of political support. In his new book, Tilting at Windmills, veteran journalist Richard Colvin provides the definitive account of Bersin’s San Diego years, and, thanks to hours of interviews, of Bersin’s thinking as he led California’s second largest school district. Mike Petrilli talks with Colvin about Bersin, San Diego, and the future of urban school reform.
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