A Tennessee native, John Barker joined CPS in January 2013 after serving as Chief of Staff to the Superintendent of the Memphis City Schools. Prior to that role, he was head of Research, Evaluation, Assessment and Student Information for that same district, where he was described by his colleagues as a great spirit-bearer who performed his duties with the highest levels of integrity, professionalism, skill, grace, and good humor.
As Chief Accountability Officer for CPS, John oversees the work of directors and their teams in Access & Enrollment, strategic planning, student testing, performance data, research and evaluation, and the deployment of strategic support aimed at improving the lives of all students and stakeholders. John holds M.P.P and PhD degrees from Vanderbilt University and considers it a privilege to do what he feels is his gift – encouraging, motivating and inspiring others while connecting them with information that makes them more efficient and effective every day.
Q. What most excites you about your work and the contribution you can make at CPS?
A. As the father of a fourth-grader who attends school at Ogden, I’m passionate about providing all children with the same quality of education that I want for my daughter. That our team gets to make a difference in the lives of young people and families across the city is totally exciting to me.
Q. Who has been the biggest influence on your life and decision to work in the field of education?
A. My parents, who are both lifelong educators, deserve the credit for both my sister (a kindergarten teacher in Philadelphia) and me going into this field. They set the example that education is a noble profession and is the basis for democracy and equality.
Q. What are you passionate about personally?
A. I’m crazy about my two girls. I’ve been married to one of them for 22 years and father to the other for 10 years.
Q. How would you want to be remembered for your work at CPS?
A. I do my work to benefit children so that they can have the best education possible. If I am able to help make that happen, I’ve made a lasting impact for good in the world.
Q. What is your most prized possession?
A. The possession that has meant the most to me since moving to Chicago is my winter coat. I bought it on sale in Jackson, Mississippi and almost never had a need to wear it there or in Memphis. I wear it on cold days and I’m thankful for it.
- Hometown: Humboldt, Tennessee
- Pets: A guinea pig named Ashley
- Favorite Spot in Chicago: Museum of Science & Industry
- Favorite Artist: Jazz musician Al Jarreau
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