Wave of high-profile departures in education hit Massachusetts

Commissioner of the Department of Early Childhood Education and Care Samantha Aigner-Truorgi announced her resignation early next month, the latest in a series of high-profile ups and downs in the spectrum of education leadership.

“Going to the EEC at a time when childcare was so important to the Commonwealth was difficult and extremely rewarding,” said Aigner-Truorgi.

Although Aigner-Trevorgi, who took office in August 2019, clearly did not name the pandemic as a reason to resign, mentions of this appeared in her statements.

“Serving as a commissioner when we rose to deal with these unprecedented challenges has been an honor for my career and I look forward to further supporting the work,” she said.

At the other end of the education spectrum, Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago announced last month that he would also resign.

“After forty years as a teacher, researcher and academic administrator, it is a good time for me to help (the Higher Education Council) determine a new leadership,” Santiago said in a statement.

Santiago, who plans to leave his post at the end of the school year, has held the post since 2015.

Boston’s head of education, Brenda Caselius, announced her retirement from Boston’s public schools later this school year, the Herald reported earlier this month. Mayor Michelle Wu called the decision “reciprocal” between her administration and Casellius, although details of preparations for her resignation remain unclear.

Caselius joined BPS in 2019, and the school committee last summer voted to extend her contract until 2024.

Although she also never directly cited the pandemic as the reason for her departure, she noted in her opening letter that during her tenure, “we faced a global pandemic, considered an escalation of racial division and civil unrest, and worked over restoring relationships in the community that have been undermining trust in our schools and trust in our city ”.

Massachusetts Association of School Supervisors Executive Director Tim Scott said that while there are “alarming numbers” of school head departures nationally, Massachusetts is not such a serious problem.

Scott spoke of the “exhaustion” experienced by superintendents as competing demands in the face of a pandemic take time.

“Many leaders feel quite beaten down in terms of the anger and some of the negative reactions that have been received,” he added. “No matter what decision they make, there will always be a pretty strong response from some part of the general public.”

This month, successive presidents of two prestigious Massachusetts universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts, also announced their decision to resign in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

Tufts President Anthony of Monaco said in a letter to the community that “after 12 years for the community will be the right time to welcome a new leader, a person with bold vision and fresh energy who can lead Tufts to take every opportunity it deserves.

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