Hall of Fame Portrait: Charlotte Frank, Ph.D., Part 2

On December 1, 2011, AEP will induct Charlotte Frank, Ph.D., McGraw-Hill Education; Don Johnston, Don Johnston, Inc.; and Paul McFall, Pearson into the Educational Publishing Hall of Fame. Here in her second installment, Frank, who is SVP, Research and Development, discusses the greatest challenge she faced and the next big challenge for the educational resource industry.

What was the greatest challenge you faced in your career, and how did you handle it?

I was confronted by my greatest challenge more than 22 years ago when I was offered the opportunity to work for McGraw-Hill. If I accepted the position, I would be leaving my comfort zone in the New York City Schools for the unfamiliar corporate world.

As Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the New York City Public Schools, I had a staff of over 125 people and a budget of  $10 million (a substantial sum 25 years ago) as well as the respect of the Schools Chancellor. I asked myself if I would be able to make the transition to a private enterprise. I had been offered a research and development position in the field of education that had not yet clearly been defined. And I was also being asked to serve as an advisor to senior corporate executives.

After making the decision to accept the offer I reached a new comfort zone by realizing the similarities in both worlds. I needed to demonstrate results and establish productive relationships and networks. Both school districts and corporations have to demonstrate RESULTS. For schools, it’s about demonstrating outstanding student achievement. For corporations, it’s about delivering great financial returns for shareholders. If you collaborate effectively with your colleagues and others to provide the best research, that helps you to design and develop the best strategies and programs to achieve your goals. That’s true in public education as well as the corporate world. You can do whatever you want; it always depends on how much you care. McGraw-Hill has a corporate structure that truly cares and everyone works together to achieve the collective goals that are similar in the public sector. I’ve loved every minute of my time with McGraw-Hill.

What do you think is the greatest challenge that educational publishing will face in the next five years?  Any thoughts on how to approach it?

The educational publishing industry must continue to devote a major effort to addressing the needs of today’s student – the digital native. Children are using a range of technology outside the classroom, but when they come to school they must often “power down.” Publishers need to incorporate educational technology in the classroom that’s interactive, engaging collaborative — providing tools that support effective instruction and drive student achievement in almost every subject. This digital transformation has the power to help students make the transition from elementary school to secondary school and on through to successful postsecondary education and/or careers. Educational publishers must also ensure that all of the content and technology tools they employ align with all pertinent curriculum standards. They have to continue to provide the quality information digitally wherever and whenever it is needed. Publishers also must partner with other companies to develop the best strategies for leveraging educational technology. In addition, it is critical that we engage schools of education, businesses, communities and families in these technological changes if we are to see significant progress in student achievement.

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Dr. Charlotte K. Frank is Sr. Vice President, Research and Development for McGraw-Hill Education of The McGraw-Hill Companies. She has been the keynote speaker at major forums e.g. Teachers College, Harvard University, City University of New York and Bank Street College with a focus on comparing and contrasting school practices with the needs of the workforce for the twenty-first century. She also participates in school reform efforts for the Business Round Table and provides leadership for the annual Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize for Those Who Have Made A Difference in Education as well as serving as the co-chair with Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul & Mary) – “Operation Respect: Don’t Laugh At Me.” She graduated with a B.B.A. from CCNY, an MS.ED. from Hunter College, received her Ph.D. from New York University and is now a N.Y.S. Regent Emerita.

Read more about Charlotte Frank and the Hall of Fame.

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