Carey Wright, Maryland’s interim state superintendent of schools, will be on the job another four years.

In a unanimous vote Wednesday evening, the Maryland State Board of Education selected Wright to run the state’s public schools on a more permanent basis — a job she’s said she wanted from the beginning.

Wright, a native Marylander, called her selection an honor and committed to improving how schools teach reading and math.

“I believe by advancing literacy and mathematics for every child at every level from prekindergarten to high school graduation, we can prepare students for the career pathway they choose and success in life,” she said in a news release. “Our work will bring transformational change and elevate public education in ways that will benefit today’s students and future generations.”

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Wright spent decades in Maryland as an educator, but she’s most known for her nine years as state superintendent in Mississippi, where students transformed their academic performances in both math and reading before she left in June 2022. The state that was often at the bottom of academic achievement list and is now above the national average.

Already in Maryland, Wright has championed the science of reading, an approach to literacy instruction backed by brain science. The state board signed a resolution in January that would require all schools to have research-backed instruction by next school year.

“Dr. Carey Wright’s distinguished career as an educator, administrator, and leader in public education has uniquely prepared her to meet this moment as Maryland’s State Superintendent,” Gov. Wes Moore said in the news release. “She is a champion for students, and I’m confident that she is the leader we need to fulfill the promise of creating a world-class public education system for Maryland.”

Wright was selected after the state board conducted a nationwide search that started in October. She competed against 25 other applicants, according to Joshua Michael, vice president of the state board and chair of the search committee.

Her predecessor, Mohammed Choudhury, decided not to seek a four-year term following allegations that he created a toxic work environment and shielded messages from public records requests. He now serves as a senior adviser for policy at the department until the end of June.

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Choudhury had been criticized for strained relationships, particularly with the group that oversees the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, landmark education reform legislation that’s just beginning to take effect.

In her short time as interim superintendent, Wright built “foundational relationships with key stakeholders,” the state board said in its news release.

“Dr. Carey Wright is the leader for this moment, ready to move in partnership and with purpose to improve outcomes for children in Maryland,” said Michael, who is also executive director of the Sherman Family Foundation, a financial supporter of The Banner.

Cheryl Bost, president of the Maryland State Education Association, said the union hopes Wright will “prioritize ensuring that educator voices are at the table” and address issues like ending the teacher shortage..

State Board President Clarence Crawford said Wright ”has the experience, expertise, and leadership track record to execute successful implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future that will show demonstrable results for children.”

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Board members on Wednesday expressed their excitement and gratitude for Wright’s leadership. In response, Wright said she’s grateful for the opportunity and that’s she’ll do “anything possible” for the students at Maryland public schools.

Her new term starts July 1. Her salary will increase from $350,000 to $360,500.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct Joshua Michael’s titles with the state school board and with the Sherman Family Foundation.

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