Alonso became a professor of practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in July 2013. Previously, he served as the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools). During his tenure, Baltimore City students have reached their highest outcomes in state exams, across all categories of students.
He serves on the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as “The Nation’s Report Card.”
Alonso emigrated from Cuba to the United States with his parents at the age of 12. Originally speaking no English, he attended public schools in Union City, New Jersey, graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University, and earned a JD and a doctorate in education from Harvard University. After practicing law in New York City he changed course to become an educator.
From 1987 to 1998, Alonso taught emotionally disturbed special education adolescents and English language learners in Newark, New Jersey. He then served as chief of staff for teaching and learning and as deputy chancellor for teaching and learning at the New York City Department of Education during the launch of its Children First reform.