CEO, Cleveland Metropolitan School District
It’s easy to anoint new schools superintendents as saviors and miracle workers, then turn against them when their weaknesses become clear (Barbara Byrd-Bennett, anyone?). So let’s look at how Eugene Sanders has already influenced Cleveland schoolkids since he took over the district in mid-2006, and what he still needs to do. He’s improved their test scores and moved up the district in state rankings by lobbying parents and setting up new test-prep lessons. This fall, he got the district’s 53,000 kids into new school uniforms, to encourage discipline and focus on learning. Backed up by $1.65 million from the Cleveland and Gund foundations, he’s creating innovative new places to learn: five single-sex academies that opened this school year and two new high schools coming in August. Now, everyone is impatient to see if he can improve safety and security for students and teachers. He also wants to move the district higher in the state report-card rankings and improve its 55 percent graduation rate.