Search Delayed for New Memphis Superintendent Until Dirty Work Wrapped Up

All the pieces were in place for the installation of Eli Broad’s choice for the new Shelby County/Memphis superintendent when suddenly someone in the office of the search firm, PROACT, called a time out.  Over the next few months, there is plenty of dirty work to be done, and no one at PROACT wants their new Broadie tainted by the anti-public and anti-teacher crackdown that is part of the privatization scheme now underway.    

There’s the planned closing of so many Memphis public schools (11 now scheduled), the dumping of experienced teachers, the hiring of TFA corporate colonizers and the  local missionary equivalents from the “Christ-centered” Memphis Teacher Residency, the outsourcing of services from custodial to transportation,  and turnover of closed public schools to the corporate charters so that they will have space to operate their behavioral-neutering operations without any public officials snooping around.  And then there is that $58 million budget hole created by local loss of so much state funding that will go directly to those same charter schools, a hole that will widen for the next five years

But back to PROACT, which is the firm put in place by the Broad and Gates acolytes in Memphis to find a new Super for Shelby County.  According to the Commercial Appeal, PROACT’s CEO, Gary Solomon is personally handling the job of finding just the right fit.  Solomon, after all, has experience delivering the goods for the Broadies. 

When John Covington decided to break his contract and leave Kansas City Schools for Detroit, he made up some damaging stories about corruption on the KC school board as an excuse for breaking his contract.  What we know now is that Covington’s assignment to shut down half of Kansas City Schools had been accomplished, and his hard fists were needed in Detroit to do more of the same.  PROACT’s Solomon was there to handle the transition after the Broad Foundation gave the okay.  (See story here for full details.)  The damage in Kansas City remains an open wound.

The dots between Broad and the Memphis search became a red line when a bit of googling found that the president of PROACT, Thomas Vranas, is also President of a non-accredited training academy for school administrators called Supes Academy. 

PROACT lists Timothy Quinn as the primary reference in its company proposals for services, as in this one from August 2012 for Norwalk Public Schools:

*Dr. Quinn is a pioneer in K12 education leadership and was engaged by Broad Foundation to partner on the creation of The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems and the Broad Superintendents Academy. He has intimate knowledge of our work and successes, and will be able to give perspective on our work in a number of districts.

So Quinn is the founder of Supes Academy, as well as founding partner of the Broad Superintendents Academy.  Small world.  Quinn also served as Managing Director of the Broad Academy as late as 2007, and Quinn remains an advisor to the Supes Academy that he helped found.

And yet, Quinn denies that he has any connection with PROACT.  On a hunch that there was, indeed, some connection, I telephoned PROACT earlier today and asked to speak with Quinn.  When the receptionist asked my reasons for calling, I told her it was about the “Memphis search.”  A few moments later Quinn came on the line.  When I told him I was a blogger doing a story on the connection between the Memphis super search and the Broad Foundation, he denied any connection with PROACT and wondered aloud how the receptionist got his number.  How, indeed!

My only regret in writing this story is for the likely job loss by the poor receptionist who did what she was supposed to do. 




  1. Jonathan Massey says:

    Chalk, do you have a list of search firms that specialize in placing graduates of the Broad Superintendents Adademy?

  2. George, It’s a 2-minute read…

  3. freetoteach says:

    Yes, George Lord,

    Please do tell. What are the facts? Please go on….

  4. George Lord says:

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t read all this due to the number of errors early on. I am not a supporter of what is happening in Memphis. I live in Memphis and am not at all pro reform. But, you clearly do not have all the facts on this.

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