Joshua P. Starr

CEO PDK International

Former SPED teacher accountability guy & superintendent, husband, father of 3, committed to public ed for social justice

Bachelor’s degree in English and History from the University of Wisconsin- Master’s degree in special education from Brooklyn College- Doctorate in education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

United States


Kappan Column

Culture, tweets, and change

When I was transitioning from being superintendent in Stamford, Conn., to being superintendent in Montgomery County, Md., I knew that while the title was the same, the jobs were...

Using Advanced Placement as a lever for social justice

Encouraging and allowing students to enroll in rigorous courses is a critical first step in providing more equity in high schools. The former school superintendent of Hartford,...

Lead with transparency and integrity

Being clear about who makes various decisions and enacting those decisions with integrity is key to effective leadership. One of the least understood aspects of school systems...

Values: Why do we believe what we believe?

Leaders must have language that drives their actions; that begins with identifying their personal core values and those of their district. What do we believe is important, why...

Teacher professionalism from the superintendent's perspective

School system leaders can't do everything, but they can do a lot to make teaching jobs more professional.  If you haven't yet read journalist Dana Goldstein's 2014 book The...

The paradox of standardized testing

Standardized achievement tests are deeply flawed, and test-based accountability has been terribly damaging to public education. Even so, such tests have their uses. At the...

Organizing for adaptive change management

If schools are going to adapt and improve in meaningful ways, then central office leaders must lead the way by being facilitators, funders, advisers, evaluators, and quality...

To lead for equity, learn how the system works

It's not enough to be passionate about social justice. School leaders can't make positive change unless they know how school systems really work. By Joshua P. Starr I recently...

Spending dollars to make a difference

Make a stronger case for greater resources by first doing a deep dive on how you're using resources already on hand. School superintendents rarely get fired for moving too...

The talent narrative

Leaders can change the narrative about teaching at-risk kids through their deliberate words and actions. To gauge a school system's commitment to social justice and equity, all...

Content is king

Every school and district express their values through the content that students learn; leaders shape that content through policies, contracts, and regulations. Change efforts...

Strategic thinking about change

Strategies must be ever evolving in service of the changes they're intended to support. A suburban district has seen its demographics change considerably over the past decade....



Counting attendance in school ratings could be smart - or completely misleading

As a superintendent, no part of my job was more important than visiting schools and seeing students, teachers, and leaders in action. Those visits kept me grounded, reminding me...


Betsy DeVos isn't listening to parents: Column

Education secretary is out of step with public views on vouchers and school spending. Betsy DeVos, our new secretary of Education, claims that she wants the federal government...

The Aspen Institute

Taking SEAD To Scale: the Educator Perspective - The Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute's National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development is focused on helping our nation's schools support the holistic development of our young...


What Parents Think: Insights from New PDK/Gallup Poll | NAESP

School leaders should take comfort that poll respondents, especially public school parents, value the real work of improving teaching and learning.

The Edge

Follow the data to frame new questions

This year’s PDK/Gallup Poll on the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools marks a shift in both the poll and PDK International.

The Hechinger Report

Guest Post: A New Approach to Accountability

School districts across the country are in the middle of the very difficult work of revising and reshaping their curriculum to align with the Common Core State Standards.