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SEATTLE -- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced today that Dr. John E. Deasy has been named deputy director of its education division within its United States Program. Deasy is currently superintendent of Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland, where he has earned a national reputation for his leadership in significantly narrowing the achievement gap between low-income and minority students and their peers.
"John put a strong plan in place and gained the trust of teachers, parents, and the community, producing real results for all students," said Vicki L. Phillips, director of the foundation’s education division. "Today when nearly half of African-American and Hispanic students fail to graduate high school, we’re eager to take what he has learned and accomplished in Prince George’s County and continue to help students all across the country prepare for college."
In his new position, Deasy will focus on promoting policies and practices throughout the country designed to ensure that all students graduate high school with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college. Since 2000, the foundation has invested $2 billion in innovative schools models and districts’ efforts toward its goal of increasing graduation and college readiness rates. He is expected to begin work at the foundation on February 1, 2009.
"At the heart of the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a fundamental belief that every young person in our country can and should be given the opportunity to reach their full potential," Deasy said. "I’ve been honored to work with the Prince George’s County Board of Education and with extraordinary young people, parents, and teachers. I believe that through strong policies, leadership, and accountability, other districts can see significant achievement gains and more young people succeeding."
As superintendent of Prince George's County Public Schools, the nation’s 18th largest school district, Deasy moved quickly to institute a series of Children Come First initiatives to strengthen teaching and learning beginning in 2006. The Board of Education set a foundation for equity by developing policies to ensure that district improvements focused on boosting school and district accountability and expanding access to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses in high schools. In 2008, the district saw large achievement gains across all grade levels and all major race and ethnic groups, with particularly dramatic gains among English Language Learners and low-income and special education students. Remarkably, from 2007 to 2008, Prince George’s County doubled the number of schools in which 80 percent of students scored proficient or advanced in reading and math on the Maryland state exam.
"For the Prince George's County Board of Education, it is bittersweet to lose an effective superintendent but we see his move to a national level as validation of the tremendous achievements of our school district," said Board Chair Verjeana M. Jacobs, Esq. "When elected, this board recognized the historic inequities in our county's schools and has since codified our commitments in policy to make equitable investments and close gaps in achievement between schools and students. We are grateful for the passion and energy that Dr. John Deasy brought to making improvements in teaching and learning for all students regardless of their backgrounds or where they live. Our school system is poised to serve as a national model for improvement in large urban systems."
Deasy is also well known for presenting a pilot pay-for-performance plan that was approved by the board of education and developed jointly with labor, making the district a leader nationally in efforts to reward its teachers for gains in student achievement. The plan had strong support of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association.
Previously, Deasy served as superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District in California and of Coventry Public Schools in Rhode Island. In all three districts, he championed fair teacher and administrator evaluations, pay-for-performance, staff development and training, and data-based decision-making.
### About Prince George’s County Public Schools Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is Maryland’s second largest school system and the nation’s 18th largest district, providing approximately 130,000 children an innovative, technology-infused curriculum, which has produced improved test scores in reading and mathematics on the Maryland School Assessments (MSA) for five consecutive years--reaching the highest achievement levels in the system since 2003. This diverse, urban school system serves children from 145 countries, speaking 154 different languages.