- Arne Duncan is taking advantage of an unbelievably large budget and pushing a tough reform agenda targeting low-income kids and struggling schools. While he’ll have his hands full with reauthorization, he has assembled a top notch team.
- Joanne Weiss leads the mother of all grant program—Race to the Top—with the same skill and diplomacy she exhibited at New Schools.
- Jim Shelton and sidekick Shivam Shah run grant programs of historically gigantic proportions: i3, Promise Neighborhoods.
- Gene Wilhoit is pushing state chiefs, supporting common standards, and asking us all to think hard about the future of learning.
- Eric Smith, FL Commissioner, is leveraging the progress that Gov. Bush made earlier in this decade; he’s got a lock on phase 1 Race to the Top money
- Paul Pastorek, LA Superintendent, is a smart outsider and has maintained post-Katrina intensity.
- Joel Klein, with support of Mayor Bloomberg, is the best urban school leader and continues to expand impact with Education Equality Project.
- Joe Williams, Democrats for Education Reform, is reframing partisan debate, challenging historical alliances, and pushing an aggressive performance-based agenda
- David Steiner, NY Commissioner, and his able deputy John King, got more done in the first few weeks than most chiefs do in a lifetime.
10. George Miller will play the most important role in the reauthorization of major federal education bill.
10 reformers to watch in 2010
- Alex Johnston, ConnCAN, runs the most effective state education advocacy organization and is thinking about expanded impact.
- Ben Austin, Parent Revolution, crafted a parent empowerment bargain in Los Angeles and is close to gaining the same power for parents of students trapped in low performing schools statewide.
- Barb O’Brien, CO Lt. Gov., lead the most extensive RttT outreach effort in the country and pushed her state into likely phase 1 winner category.
- Gerard Robinson, Black Alliance for Educational Options, recently took the reigns from Howard Fuller.
- Marjorie Scardino, Pearson, leads the most active R&D and acquisition agenda in the sector and has a clear vision of digital learning services to come.
- Kim Smith, founder of New Schools, will do something interesting next year; so will Andy Rotherham, founder of EdSector.
- Larry Berger, Wireless Generation, is working on three of the most interesting projects in the sector with a mixture of private and philanthropic capital.
- 8. Nelson Smith, National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, is leveraging administration interest in charter schools.
- Susan Patrick, International Association of K-12 Online Learning, will help shape the explosive growth of online learning.
- [your suggestion here], I’m holding one spot for someone you tell me about; maybe a superintendent, human capital leader, consultant, state chief?
note: this list obviously incorporates Tom’s biases and includes friends, clients, and business partners