During his MCPS tenure, Dr. Starr was recognized for his willingness to advocate for teachers and school staff. He was a strong believer in the potential of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to create meaningful change in public education, and urged state and national leaders to consider a moratorium on accountability systems and evaluations based on out-of-date standardized tests so schools and districts can effectively align their systems, policies, and professional development to the CCSS.
He resigned from the position on February 16, 2015, in what officials said was a mutually agreed upon decision.
Dr. Starr began his career as a special education teacher in New York City, working with students with emotional and behavioral disorders. He held administrative and executive positions in urban and suburban school districts and served as Director of School Performance and Accountability for New York City Public Schools, the nation’s largest school district. From 2005 to 2011, Dr. Starr was the Superintendent of Stamford (Conn.) Public Schools, where he distinguished himself by increasing academic rigor for all students, standardizing curriculum, and building partnerships with the civic and business communities.
Dr. Starr is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, earned a Master’s degree in special education from Brooklyn College, and holds a doctorate degree in administration and social policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
More on his book, Equity-Based Leadership, per Harvard Education Press:
Starr asserts that the essential goal of good system leadership lies in designing, implementing, and sustaining comprehensive strategies for school reform, in collaboration with school leaders, educators, and community shareholders. Drawing on his own experiences and those of other distinguished superintendents, he offers core practices that system leaders can use to ensure that the mission of their district is upheld throughout any change process and that precious time and funding are used judiciously.
Recognizing that there is no single path to transformation, Starr sets forth a flexible, customizable agenda for district reform that concentrates on six elements, or entry points. Starr’s first entry point is curriculum content, as teaching and learning are the fundamental goals of a school system. But he goes further to advocate for a deep dive into the organization and alignment of the system itself, via deliberate support of shared values; explicit and transparent decision-making; resource allocation in line with vision and need; talent management to achieve new levels of educator performance; and nourishment of school culture.
Additionally, Starr brings together a wide range of real-world examples, evidence-based practices, and sensible advice to guide district leaders in aligning their systems around a coherent equity strategy.
This bold new approach to transforming educational systems confidently guides the higher-level decision-making of leaders—not only superintendents but also school board members, cabinet members, and central office administrators—within the context of district-wide efforts to make education better for all students.