Chiefs for Change: Making a Difference for Kids

IN chief Tony Bennet

State education agencies play a crucial role in American education.  With the shift to personal digital learning and  the dismantling of NCLB, state leadership will become even more important.  That makes the role of elected and appointed state superintendents and commissioners critical to quality.
Chiefs for Change, supported by The Foundation for Excellence in Education, is a group of reform-minded state education leaders (members below).  Tony Bennet, Indiana chief, chairs the group.  At a Chiefs forum this morning Tony said, “The adults in the system are well represented, but Chiefs for Change exists to represent the interests of students.”
New Jersey chief Chris Cerf pointed out that we deal with policy and politics.  The former can be challenging, but the later is far more difficult.  “This is all about political courage. We have shown a complete lack of political courage for many years. We have beeen nibling around the edges.  There are deep funamental organizational constraints that are the problem.”
Hanna Skandera, who staffed Chiefs for Change before joining their ranks, outlined their Guiding Principles:

  • Achievement-focused Teacher and School Leadership Effectiveness
  • Rewarding Excellence and Replacing Failure with Success
  • High Academic Standards
  • Transparent and Rigorous Accountability
  • Viable Options for all Students

Tony Bennet described how the Indiana legislature passed a comprehensive package of reform based on competition, freedom, and accountability.
Paul Pastorek, former chief in Louisiana, said “It is time to stop blaming the kids and blaming the parents.”  Paul said we need to stop just saying “all kids can learn” and prove it community by community.
Chiefs for Change Members

  • Janet Barresi, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Tony Bennett, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction & Chair of Chiefs for Change
  • Stephen Bowen, Maine Commissioner of Education
  • Chris Cerf, New Jersey Commissioner of Education
  • Deborah A. Gist, Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Kevin Huffman, Tennessee Commissioner of Education
  • Paul Pastorek, Former Louisiana State Superintendent of Education & Member Emeritus
  • Gerard Robinson, Florida Commissioner of Education
  • Hanna Skandera, New Mexico Public Education Department Secretary-Designate
  • Eric Smith,  Former Florida Commissioner of Education & Member Emeritus 


Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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