Derrell assumed leadership of NYCAN in 2014 after more than 12 years of working in education advocacy in New Jersey and across the country.
Derrell previously served as the executive director at Better Education for Kids, a 501c4 organization supporting bipartisan education reforms in New Jersey. At B4K Derrell worked to secure passage of the tenure reform legislation TEACH NJ. Prior to B4K, Derrell spent nine years with New Jersey’s Excellent Education for Everyone (E3) as director of communications and then executive director. While there he also served on Governor Christie’s Educator Effectiveness Task Force, which gave recommendations on a new, statewide evaluation system for teachers and leaders.
Derrell frequently contributes to education debates in print, digital, radio and TV media. He serves on several boards dedicated to putting the needs of students and families first, including Success Academy Charter Schools in New York City, EdBuild, The Partnership for Educational Justice and The Parent Coalition for Excellent Education. He is a former board member of We Can Do Better New Jersey and St. Anthony High School in Jersey City. A native of Baltimore, Derrell attended the St. Paul’s School for Boys and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a B.A. in English.
Mohammed Choudhury serves as the founding Director of Transformation and Innovation for the Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) in Texas, the 13th-largest school district in the country with an enrollment of 158,000 students in 231 schools, 92 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged, and an operating budget of $1.6 billion. In his role, Mohammed leads what has come to be known as the district’s “Learning Lab” to reimagine Dallas schools, and a budget of $40 million over five years. His team oversees the district’s expansion of school choice options through Dallas ISD’s Public School Choice initiative, and pilots initiatives that will have the greatest impact on teaching and learning district-wide and bring about greater levels of equity. Mohammed’s work and results include:
- Designing and overseeing the annual Public School Choice competitive proposal process to launch 35 new Choice Schools by 2020: 15 Choice Schools have successfully launched ranging from those that anchor teaching and learning under a Personalized Learning model to schools that are driven by a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) framework.
- Seeing significantly accelerated student achievement in Choice Schools: two years into the district’s Public School Choice initiative, open enrollment campuses have exceeded district averages in all tested areas on state assessments, especially for historically underserved students.
- Creating and implementing an “equity audit” to ensure that open enrollment campuses enroll students from the most disadvantaged census tracts throughout the city.
- For the first time in district and Texas history, successfully codified enrollment regulations for a new school that looked at an individual student’s socioeconomic status as the primary factor in admissions to ensure a research-based balance — half of the seats were reserved for students eligible for free/reduced lunch; the other half were for students ineligible for free/reduced lunch. Solar Preparatory School for Girls (Solar Prep), a Choice School that launched in August 2016, represents Dallas ISD’s most serious and explicit attempt to promote socioeconomic integration at a campus.
This conversation will be facilitated by Kim Desmond. Kim is a Denver native, a graduate of Manual High School, and the current Director of the Denver Office on Women & Families for the City and County of Denver.