Almost five years on the job, Camden school superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard announced unexpectedly last week that he will step down from the state-appointed post at the end of the school year. By most accounts, he has helped shepherd significant improvements for the district and its children since former Gov. Chris Christie named him to lead the state’s fourth takeover district in 2013. Yet by his own admission, steep challenges remain.
Rouhanifard spoke with NJ Spotlight this weekend about the lessons learned and the obstacles that remain. He spoke candidly about why he’s leaving, what surprised him in the job, what worked and what didn’t, and what he might have done differently. In one segment, he had surprising things to say about the testing focus that dominates so many New Jersey schools, not just in Camden. And he was unapologetic about the new and prominent role of charter and Renaissance schools in his city.
Question: So tell me the genesis of your decision to leave.