Speaking no English when he first attended public schools in Union City, New Jersey at the age of 12, Andres A. Alonso graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University, and earned a J.D. and a Doctorate in Education from Harvard University. After practicing corporate litigation law in New York City for the firm of Hughes, Hubbard and Reed, he changed course to become an educator.
From 1987 to 1998, Andres taught English language learners at the Samuel L. Berliner School, a center school for classified emotionally disturbed adolescents in the Central Ward, and Peshine Avenue Elementary School, a k-8 school in the South Ward of Newark, NJ. He was a teacher leader, writing the district’s bilingual special education guide, and later chairing the committee of teachers that revised its English Language Learner curriculum guide. After returning to Harvard to continue his studies, he served as Chief of Staff for Teaching and Learning and as Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning at the New York City Department of Education, overseeing the educational mission of the nation’s largest district, and supervising over one hundred local instructional superintendents and twelve hundred schools.
In 2007, Dr. Alonso became CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools). During his tenure, Baltimore City students reached their highest outcomes in state exams, across all categories of students. City Schools saw its enrollment climb, following four decades of steady enrollment decline. It posted its best-ever dropout and graduation rates, driven largely by attention to all students, a focus on adult performance, the promotion of choice and bounded school autonomy for all schools, a commitment to reduce suspensions and increase opportunities for students to stay in school, and intensive efforts to engage parents and community. In 2010 City Schools settled the Vaughn G. special education lawsuit, ending 26 years of court oversight and litigation. In 2013, with support from the entire community, City Schools succeeded in receiving over 1B in funding from the state and the city to renovate its schools.
Since July 1, 2013, Dr. Alonso has served as Professor of Practice at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, where he teaches on urban district and school reform, helps steer the Education Doctorate in Leadership Degree program, and co-chairs the Public Education Leadership Project, a partnership between the School of Education and Harvard Business School that brings together leadership teams from twelve of the largest urban school systems in the country to work on their problems of practice.
Among numerous awards, Dr. Alonso holds the Medal for Distinguish Service from Teachers College, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents. In 2011, he was appointed as trustee of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as “The Nation’s Report Card.” He is a trustee and former chair of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, as well as a trustee of the William T. Grant and Panasonic Foundations, and the Center for Collaborative Studies.