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Statement on the Passing of Tom Payzant By the Council of the Great City Schools


FOR RELEASE                                                         CONTACT: Joanne Coley

July 26, 2021                                                                at:             


Statement on the Passing of Tom Payzant

By the Council of the Great City Schools



WASHINGTON, July 26 – The Council of the Great City Schools and its member urban school systems are profoundly saddened at the passing of former superintendent of Boston Public Schools Tom Payzant. Tom died on July 23 at his home in Boston surrounded by his family.


“Tom Payzant was a tireless advocate for urban public education and a relentless warrior on behalf of urban children and he will truly be missed,” said Council Executive Director Ray Hart.


Payzant led the Boston school system for 11 years and under his leadership, the school system experienced dramatic improvement in student achievement, with increased test scores on both state-mandated tests and SAT college entrance exams. From 2003–2005 Boston's fourth- and eighth-grade students displayed the largest improvement in math scores of the 11 major cities participating in the National Assessment of Educational Progress Trial Urban District Assessment.


In 2004, Payzant was presented with the Green-Garner Award, the nation’s highest honor in for urban education leadership, at the Council’s 49th Fall Conference in Las Vegas.


After leaving Boston, he served as a senior lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he focused his time with students and faculty interested in urban school district reform; leadership; and ways to connect research, policy, and practice in urban school districts. Prior to serving as superintendent in Boston, Payzant served as assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education in the Clinton administration. 


The Council family extends its deepest sympathies to Tom’s family, who he loved deeply and from whom he drew strength and courage.