Consultant Paul Kihn picked as deputy superintendent for Philadelphia schools

Paul Kihn (Photo from mckinsey.com)
Paul Kihn (Photo from mckinsey.com)
Posted: September 01, 2012

The Philadelphia School District will hire a teacher turned education strategist as its next deputy superintendent.

Paul Kihn, now a leader of the global consulting firm McKinsey & Co.'s education practice, will begin work in the district by Oct. 1, when new Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. starts. Hite confirmed the appointment Thursday night.

"This is an exciting choice," said Hite. "I'm really encouraged by the fact that I've been able to attract someone of Paul's caliber to join me in Philadelphia."

Kihn will be paid $210,000.

He will serve as Hite's second-in-command, managing day-to-day operations. His expertise, Hite said, "is in education-systems strategy and transformation and school-system management. We're going to use that expertise to really get our shop in order."

Financially distressed and academically struggling, the 145,000-student district is preparing to radically revamp operations, though what form the new structure will take is very much a work in progress, Hite said.

The new superintendent and deputy met when Kihn did some consulting work in Prince George's County, Md., where Hite is currently schools chief.

"I've been trying to convince him to come back" to K-12 education, Hite said.

Kihn is a former New York City public school English teacher and middle school administrator who has also taught in Ireland and Africa. He also holds an M.B.A. degree from Columbia University and worked for a nonprofit that serves as an alternative to prison for teenagers convicted of felonies.

With McKinsey, he has worked with clients including "federal, state, and local public education systems in the U.S. and abroad, as well as charter management organizations and private foundations supporting educational reform efforts," according to the company's website.

Kihn, 46, is also an author. Deliverology 101: A Field Guide for Educational Leaders, a book he cowrote, was published in 2010. He has also written about teacher organizations in South Africa.

His most recent book holds that "most previous reforms were unsuccessful due to failed implementation," its publisher said, and illustrates "a field-tested program that ensures reform is achieved in the most profound sense, with students able to see, feel, and reap the benefits of a high-quality education."

As Hite continues his transition to Philadelphia, expect more job announcements, he said. The new superintendent said he was still looking for people - across the nation and inside the district - "to work on some fundamental issues, some very significant reform issues, across the city of Philadelphia."

Chief academic officer Penny Nixon will continue to report to Hite, but Kihn will also work closely with her.

Asked if Nixon would continue in her role, Hite said: "At the moment, yes. Penny is the person in that position until such time that there's a need to re-advertise or change the nature of the job."

Hite said the district's organizational chart would evolve over the school year, "following the work" as the district is transformed.


Contact Kristen Graham at 215-854-5146 or kgraham@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @newskag. Read her blog, "Philly School Files," at www.philly.com/schoolfiles.

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