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The Manhattan Institute Honors outstanding urban leaders who have improved the quality of life in their cities with its annual Urban Innovator Award.

Gina M. Raimondo
Michelle Rhee
Renee Glover
Mitch Daniels
Jeb Bush
Paul Vallas
Raymond Kelly
Manuel Diaz
Martin O'Malley
Anthony Williams
Norm Coleman
Jerry Brown
Richard Daley


Urban Innovator Award Winner

Paul Vallas.2006
Paul Vallas First Education Leader to Receive Urban Innovator Award

On September 21, CCI hosted a luncheon at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia to celebrate the accomplishments of Paul Vallas, Chief Executive of the Philadelphia School District, and presented him with the centerís Urban Innovator Award. Mr. Vallas is the first education official to receive the award, which is given annually to an urban leader for improving the quality of life in their city. Stephen Goldsmith, founding chairman of CCI, introduced Mr. Vallas and presented him with the award.

Mr. Vallas served as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools from 1995 to 2001 and was appointed CEO of the Philadelphia School District in 2002. In Philadelphia, Mr. Vallas has dramatically increased school choice, raised expectations and academic standards, and improved accountability in a once financially unstable, and largely ineffective, district.

"The city of Philadelphia has more school choice than any major urban school district in the country," Mr. Vallas said. "One-third of the children educated in our schools are educated in nontraditional schools, charter schools, privately-managed schools, or independent schools (...) and they are all performing splendidly."

Among the many other significant transformations in the Philadelphia school district, Mr. Vallas noted that, during his talk, it had:

  • Created a district-wide early childhood education program.
  • Standardized curriculum and instructional manuals.
  • Restored Advanced Placement and Honors programs to most schools.
  • Developed "accelerated academies" in elementary schools.
  • Doubled the number of high schools in city in just five years.

The Philadelphia school district's smaller high schools are outperforming larger ones. "We've had small schools, but now we have small schools with high standards," he said. "And wherever you live in Philadelphia," he added, "you have multiple high school choices."

While in Chicago, Mr. Vallas introduced test-based retention policies, eliminated a projected four-year budget shortfall of $1.3 billion, oversaw the construction and renovation of hundreds of school buildings, and established the largest after-school and summer reading programs in the country.






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