Bernadeia Johnson, superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools, 2010 to 2015

Bernadeia JohnsonBY ED FELIEN

Bernadeia Johnson was appointed superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools in the winter of 2010.  She was the only candidate.  School board members considered her perfect for the job because for the past two years she had worked under Superintendent Carol Johnson in administration to develop the long-range Strategic Plan, so she seemed the logical person to understand and implement it.
Bernadeia Johnson has spent most of her professional life in school administration.  She was principal from 1999 to 2004 in the same North Minneapolis school where her grandmother was principal.   She went to Memphis as an assistant superintendent under Carol Johnson, and when Carol Johnson became superintendent in Minneapolis, Bernadeia followed her.
When a child isn’t doing well in school, the parent won’t blame the child or motivation from home, and the parent is reluctant to blame the teacher—for fear the teacher might retaliate on their child, so the parent will blame the school system, and that most often means blame the superintendent.
By all accounts, Bernadeia Johnson faced a particularly hostile crowd during her “Soup with Super” get-together with parents in Southwest Minneapolis in December.  Also, a year ago the school board expressed frustration that there had been little progress in closing the achievement gap for minority kids.
Kerry Jo Felder, a North Minneapolis community activist who was part of the successful struggle to keep North High open in 2010, complains that Minneapolis is a top-heavy district: ““We need less administrators and more teachers in the classroom,” she told The Daily Planet.
Maybe Kerry Jo Felder is right.  Maybe we need fewer administrators coming up with catchy slogans and bright ideas and more teachers in the classrooms reaching out to the kids who are being left behind.

One Comment:

  1. Please see below

    I’m sorry, but as a MPS employees I do not want to risk my job in following up on the conclusion to this article.
    If you want to ask for my name by phone I will tell you.
    I understand if you decline. There cannot be different policies for different people.

    Supporting Ed’s opinion on top-heavy administration of MPS
    is this history of superintendents’ recent announcements to employees.

    Superintendent Johnson announced, a couple months before she left, that there would be no new hires. Presumbly she meant at the Davis Center headquarters. Nonetheless, more people got hired there and at schools.

    Temporary Superintendent Goar announced in email and to employees withint the past two weeks a substantial “right-sizing”, in a downward direction, in the number of employees at Davis Center. The purpose was to give more money to schools.

    Following S. Goar’s announcement was last week’s email to employees about these new administrative positions:

    Minneapolis Public Schools Job Postings
    Capital Planning – Planning & Design Manager, Senior – 40 hours/week, 52 weeks
    Capital Planning – Planning & Design Manager – 40 hours/week, 52 weeks
    Design & Construction – Design & Construction Coordinator, Senior – 40 hours/week, 52 weeks

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