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Press Release

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jaryn Emhof
(850) 528-8629

State Education Chiefs form "Chiefs for Change"

~ Unified Voice for Bold Education Reform ~

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Foundation for Excellence in Education announced the formation of Chiefs for Change, a bi-partisan group of State Education Chiefs committed to bold education reform during the opening session of Excellence in Action National Summit on Education Reform 2010.

Chiefs for Change is committed to putting children first through bold, visionary education reform that will improve student achievement and prepare students for success in college and careers. As state education leaders, Chiefs for Change will provide a national network of experts with experience in successful reform who will continue to advance proven education policies at local, state and federal levels.

Members of Chiefs for Change include:

  • Paul Pastorek, Louisiana Superintendent of Education - Chair
  • Eric Smith, Florida Commissioner of Education - Vice Chair
  • Tony Bennett, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Deborah A. Gist, Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Gerard Robinson, Virginia Secretary of Education

Statements from the Chiefs
“As we seek to improve K-12 public education across our country, never before has so much seemed possible. At the same time, the stakes couldn’t be higher. The economic viability of our country and the future of our next generation are reliant on the courage and willingness of national, state and local leaders to move beyond what is politically comfortable and to bring about crucial changes in policy and practice. We must begin by recognizing that the “best interest of our students,” is not simply a rhetorical phrase or tag line to promote the good will of one agency or another. It’s a non-negotiable gauge that requires us to implement with urgency strategies that have proven to increase academic achievement. It’s a commitment that requires us to put children first and adults second. And while we must be thoughtful and continue to collaborate with those who are resistant to change, as state leaders who are pushing for change on the front lines, we appreciate the benefit of pushing together. Chiefs for Change signifies our support for each other and our collective allegiance to advocate for proven and student-centered reforms.” Paul Pastorek, Louisiana Superintendent of Education

"Chiefs for Change represents an important step by educational leaders throughout this country to join together to create better academic outcomes and educational opportunities not just for students in our respective states, but for every child in the nation. By working together, we can pool our expertise, passion, experience and drive to develop collaborative, working solutions to the issues being faced by our schools. My colleagues in this organization are among our nation's strongest reform-minded educational leaders and I am proud to be a part of this tremendous effort. Now is the time for bold and intentional reform of our educational system; our children deserve it and our nation demands it." Dr. Eric J. Smith, Florida Commissioner of Education

“Never before has a bipartisan group of national and state political leaders come together with such resolve to comprehensively and immediately reform our system of schools. Some have called education the civil rights issue of our generation, but as we continue a decades-long quest to achieve equal educational opportunities for all students, it’s clear that education is the civil rights issue for every generation. The bottom line is if we consistently set high expectations and deliver top-notch instruction, all children can learn. I am excited about the opportunity Chiefs for Change has to ensure all American students receive the high-quality education they deserve.” Dr. Tony Bennett, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction

“As leaders committed to transforming education, each of us believes that we must act urgently and in the best interest of students and that we can best do so in partnership. All of us – elected leaders, teachers and school leaders, leaders of teachers’ unions, parents, students, members of the business community, and community members – share the responsibility for transforming America’s schools. I look forward to working with Chiefs for Change to help improve education for students across the country and to make America competitive in the 21st-century global economy.” Deborah A. Gist, Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education

“It is an honor to be a member of Chiefs for Change. At a point in American history when the debate about federalism, states’ rights and the role of education in a technology-driven society is alive and well, giving critical attention to public policies and public funds that influence the human resource side of the schooling equation—educators, students and interest groups—remains important. This is one reason I am a member of Chiefs for Change.” Gerard Robinson, Virginia Secretary of Education