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

To improve the curriculum, engage the whole system -

Curriculum reform must be led by those who understand how schools work. All of a sudden, the education pundits and policy wonks here in the DC area all seem to be shifting their...

What leaders can (and cannot) learn from scientists -

Back in my teenage years, I hated science. Or, more specifically, I hated science class. As far as I could tell, the point of biology, chemistry, and physics was just to...

Small steps, big changes -

The most powerful forms of school improvement aren't necessarily the most glamorous. When talking with potential funders and organizational partners, I'm often asked what I see...

Armed officers in schools: The good, bad, and ugly -

In the wake of horrific shootings in Parkland, Fla., and elsewhere, Americans have grown increasingly concerned about school safety. That doesn't mean they want teachers to...

Which kind of bold leadership? -

If they want to take bold action to confront inequities in their school systems, superintendents must be willing - and able to afford - to burn some bridges along the way....

The silent, reasonable majority must be heard -

The loudest voices don't always represent the majority. It's essential for school leaders to listen to everyone, including those who aren't so easily heard. In today's political...

Reducing suspensions or building relationships? Reframing the problem -

Whenever I hear education policy wonks arguing about the topic of student suspensions, I'm reminded of the Rorschach tests I learned about in Psychology 101. Show people an...

Let's be precise about personalization -

As a district cabinet member and superintendent, I spent countless hours in planning sessions, retreats, and other meetings where system leaders are supposed to come up with a...

2 challenges for community schools -

I wrote my doctoral dissertation, back in 2001, on the topic of collaborative leadership. More specifically, I focused on the need for superintendents and directors of community...



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.


AASA | The School Superintendents Association

Before Day 1 of his new superintendency, the author launched a systematic plan for listening to a wide array of perspectives while infusing a new spirit of community engagement.

Education Next

A Testing Moratorium Is Necessary - Education Next

Meaningful assessment data reveal what students know and are able to do, and provide teachers with the information they need to track student progress and to identify and...

The Washington Post

Schools need time to implement Common Core standards

The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by 45 states and the District as the foundation for what students in America's public schools need to know and be able to do.