Farah Assiraj is joining the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) as the Chief of Teaching and Learning. Farah is an equity-centered leader with 20+ years of service in urban schools. As a Moroccan immigrant who arrived to the U.S. at the age of ten fluent in three languages and later graduated high school as an undocumented student, Farah’s personal schooling experience and professional trajectory have culminated in a deep understanding of systemic inequities and necessary conditions required for all students to thrive, especially those with other languages as assets, who have varying abilities that must be attended to and/or historically marginalized.
Farah recently served as the Deputy Chief Academic Officer for the Boston Public Schools (BPS) where she supported all of the academics departments and led the district’s Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) strategy to redefine equitable tiered supports, services, data and professional learning. She also served as the BPS Office of English Learners’ Interim Assistant Superintendent where she restructured the department to the Office of Multilingual and Multicultural Education (OMME) and secured $10MM ESSER funding to align the department’s work with the new instructional vision. She developed a 3-year Strategic Plan as a blueprint for the district to deliver on a promise of implementing bilingual education that included parent, educator, and advocate voices. Additionally, she implemented a systemic action plan that moved the district to achieve the highest compliance ratings for English learner services in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice’s agreement with the Boston Public Schools. In other BPS roles, Farah led the district in areas of curriculum, instruction and research; developed guidance and professional development for language and literacy; adopted K-12 district instructional materials; implemented CCSS, WIDA standards and assessments; and implemented the 3Ls: ELs need Language, Literacy and Learning professional learning with lab sites for elementary and secondary school cohorts.
As the founder of cairEDucation, Farah has consulted with various organizations such English Learner Success Forum (ELSF), Student Achievement Partners (SAP) amongst others and has developed School Justice Framework focused on anti-racist, ethnically, culturally and linguistically affirming practices. She is contributing author for the Benchmark Education Advance Core K-6 ELA, ELD materials and K-12 leveled readers. As a previous elementary school leader, Farah developed an instructional vision centering student agency and restructured all academic programs to ensure equity across core content and services. She has teaching experience across K-12 grades as a special education resource teacher, a reading interventionist, an ELA and ESL teacher. Farah’s district, school, and classroom knowledge is coupled with her mission for equity which she has put into action as the former Director of Organizing for the Boston Teachers Union, a founder of Peregrinum community nonprofit, and co-founder of various community and parent coalitions. Farah leads with a collective framework and consistently centers students on the margins in policy and practice.
Farah has an undergraduate degree in sociology; a Master’s degree in Linguistics; a creative leadership certificate; and is completing a Ph.D. in Research and Evaluation in Education. Farah was the recipient of the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching where she researched the usage of mother tongue languages in classrooms. She lives in Boston with her daughter who is also a BPS student.
Farah has partnered with the CGCS over the past decade as a presenter at several CGCS conferences, a reviewer with the CGCS Strategic Support Teams, and contributor to various CGCS project such as Supporting Excellence Curriculum Framework, 2nd edition; “A Framework for Raising Expectations & Instructional Rigor for ELLs”; Re-envisioning English Language Arts and English Language Development for English Language Learners; and Instructional Materials for English Language Learners.