The Maryland State Board of Education has selected Mohammed Choudhury, an alumnus of the Chiefs for Change Future Chiefs leadership development program, as state superintendent of schools. Choudhury will oversee the Maryland State Department of Education, which is responsible for developing and implementing standards and policy for education programs from prekindergarten through high school. He currently serves as associate superintendent of the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) in Texas.
“I am honored that the Maryland State Board has entrusted me with the great responsibility of working with schools to support students during this critical time,” said Choudhury. “As we emerge from COVID-19, we must do everything possible to give all children, especially those who are most vulnerable, the opportunities and support they need to excel in their learning and heal from the loss and disruption of the pandemic. I know that, together, we can create a system that prepares every child to thrive in the classroom and beyond—and I look forward to engaging in that work along with Maryland’s dedicated educators.”
For the past four years, Choudhury has worked under Chiefs for Change Board Chair and SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez. The district has gone from being an F-rated system to a B-rated system and is now the fastest-improving large district in Texas. Choudhury worked with Superintendent Martinez and the SAISD team to develop a nuanced way of tracking poverty in a district where roughly 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The method takes into account several socioeconomic indicators for each student, including their family’s income and level of educational attainment, whether the family owns their home, and whether the child lives in a single-parent household. Using that information, the district calculates a ranking for each Census block in the city, maps the level of poverty in each neighborhood, and pinpoints the areas with the greatest need. SAISD then reserves space for children from the poorest neighborhoods at its highest-performing schools. The district has more than tripled the number of high-quality schools and options and has developed partnerships to create new school models and redesign existing neighborhood schools.
These efforts have served to improve student achievement, stem the tide of declining enrollment, and attract more families to the district. SAISD also changed the way it allocates resources to ensure that children with the greatest needs get appropriate levels of support. The State of Texas adopted SAISD’s socioeconomic block system in what has been called perhaps the biggest change in the way the state funds schools.
“Mohammed has played an integral role in the progress we’ve made in San Antonio,” said Superintendent Martinez. “He has an extraordinary ability to understand how to redesign systems so they lead to better outcomes for students. That starts with knowing what our children need, figuring out how best to support them, and then structuring programs and operations in ways that give all students, regardless of where they live, opportunities to succeed. Our city is one of the most economically segregated communities in America—but we also now have some of the nation’s most socioeconomically and academically diverse schools. We will miss Mohammed in San Antonio but know he will be an outstanding state chief for Maryland.”
Prior to San Antonio, Choudhury spent more than four years leading transformation and innovation initiatives for the Dallas Independent School District. He started his education career as a middle school teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District and later led policy and programming for the Future is Now Schools Network.
Choudhury earned his undergraduate degree from California State University, Northridge and holds a master’s in urban education and leadership from UCLA. He was part of the fourth cohort of the Future Chiefs program. The program identifies talented, diverse emerging leaders and integrates them into a community of practice where they receive coaching and mentorship from members of Chiefs for Change and participate in a variety of other learning opportunities. For more on the Future Chiefs program, click here.
About Chiefs for Change
Chiefs for Change is a nonprofit, bipartisan network of diverse state and district education chiefs dedicated to preparing all students for today’s world and tomorrow’s through deeply committed leadership. Chiefs for Change advocates for policies and practices that are making a difference today for students, and builds a pipeline of talented, diverse Future Chiefs ready to lead major school systems.