Maryland Board of Education Selects Carey Wright as Permanent Superintendent of Public Schools

She will continue in her role.

After a unanimous decision by the Maryland Board of Education on Wednesday, Carey Wright will be officially appointed as the permanent state superintendent of public schools, removing the interim title.

Wright took over as the interim superintendent on Oct. 23 following Mohammed Choudhury’s departure, who resigned to serve as a senior adviser to the state school board with a base salary of $310,000 until June 30.

Starting with a prorated $350,000 salary until June 30, Wright, a Maryland native, introduced various programs during her six-month tenure overseeing the state’s nearly 890,000 students.

Effective July 1, Wright will serve as the permanent superintendent until June 30, 2028, earning an annual salary of $360,500.

Originally a teacher in the Prince George’s County public schools since September 1972, Wright expressed gratitude to the board and emphasized the importance of engaging all stakeholders in enhancing public education.

“We strive for the maximum success of all our children, and it is our responsibility to facilitate their journey toward achievement,” she stated. “I am dedicated to elevating Maryland as the vanguard of education.”

In December, the state school board enlisted Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA) from Illinois to carry out a nationwide search. The firm, with a track record in Maryland, collaborated with the search committee to identify and assess potential candidates.

By the application deadline on March 1, nearly 40 candidates demonstrated interest, with 26 “fully completing” applications.

A special session was held on April 13, during which the board convened an executive session and later interviewed semifinalists to ultimately select the finalists.

The final decision was made on Wednesday as the board opted to appoint Wright.

“With an extensive national search, your outstanding capabilities as a leader were recognized, making you a top candidate,” mentioned board Vice President Joshua Michael, also the search committee chair. “Your unique blend of Maryland insights, educational experience, and leadership qualities equip you to drive reforms and enhancements in public schools.”

Under Wright’s guidance, the state will implement a comprehensive literacy program across all 24 school systems starting in the 2024-25 academic year, emphasizing phonics-based teaching approaches for enhanced reading proficiency, comprehension, and vocabulary acquisition.

Wright urged state legislators in Annapolis to uphold full funding for public education and to remain dedicated to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education reform.

Maryland public schools Interim State Superintendent Carey Wright testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee on Jan. 24, 2024. (William J. Ford)

Overseen by the Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB), the decade-long, multi-billion-dollar Blueprint strategy receives Wright’s full endorsement.

Yet, local school officials remain challenged by the Blueprint directives, particularly in areas such as teacher recruitment amidst shortages, expanding prekindergarten to cater to 3- and 4-year-olds, and integrating career readiness into the educational framework.

Wright spearheads various educational ventures, including deploying literacy expert teams to educational institutions and unveiling a statewide literacy blueprint later this year. Additionally, she is formulating plans to enhance math proficiency scores and has established a task force in conjunction with representatives from the state Higher Education Commission and the University System of Maryland to evaluate educator training programs.

In January, the state Department of Education published a comprehensive leadership profile report outlining agency strengths and challenges, derived from 564 interviews and surveys conducted with various stakeholders, parents, students, and state, regional, and local entities.

Among the positive aspects highlighted in the report are the commitment to educational reform, continued support for the Blueprint, and collaborative efforts among the state board, department officials, staff, and stakeholders.

Challenges mentioned include ensuring equitable learning environments for all students, the collaborative complexities between the state superintendent, state board, and AIB, and the need to secure buy-in from local school officials regarding the Blueprint.

Several mentions were made about the necessity of enhancing relations between the education department, local school systems, and the community.

“During interviews and focus groups, building transparency between the State Superintendent and various stakeholder groups emerged as a significant challenge that developed during the previous administration,” as stated in the report. “While recent strides have been made, ensuring transparent communication to rebuild trust with stakeholders is a paramount task for the new superintendent.”

Upon her arrival last autumn, Wright’s accomplishments in Mississippi and Maryland heritage were acknowledged. She acquired her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park.

“Dr. Carey Wright’s extensive journey as an educator, administrator, and educational trailblazer positions her uniquely in fulfilling the role of Maryland’s State Superintendent,” remarked Gov. Wes Moore (D) in a statement. “Her unwavering dedication to students ensures that she is the ideal leader to realize the vision of crafting a world-class public education system for Maryland.”

Cheryl Bost, president of the Maryland State Education Association, expressed gratitude for the collaborative partnership with Wright during her interim superintendency.

“As superintendent, we trust that she will prioritize the inclusion of teacher perspectives in critical decisions impacting our schools, students, and seminal issues like addressing teacher shortages and executing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future,” Bost noted.

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