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Interviews from Governor Bill Haslam and Four State Leaders Added to the Bush Institute's "A" Word Series on Accountability

Interviews reiterate state leaders have the most responsibility for creating educational opportunity for students, highlight updated State of Our Cities data tool

Press Release by Sarah Gibbons January 24, 2019

DALLAS— Today, the George W. Bush Institute added five new interviews focused on state leadership to a series of interviews with education leaders on accountability titled, The “A” Word: Accountability—The Dirty Word of Education Reform. Federal policy continues to defer the creation and implementation of standards and accountability measures to the states, and Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans have now moved from document to action. What remains clear since the initial launch of The “A” Word in 2017 is that state leaders have the most responsibility for creating educational opportunity for students.

The five state leaders who have been added to The “A” Word series include:

  • Bill Haslam, Tennessee Governor, 2011-2019
  • Jamie Woodson, CEO, Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education, 2011-2019
  • John White, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education
  • Pedro Rivera, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education
  • Steve Canavero, Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction

“Calibrating accountability policy and practice is difficult, but critical, as these five leaders describe,” said Bush Institute’s Director of Education Reform Anne Wicks. “Simply put, students who are off track academically greatly reduce their chances for prosperous, self-determined lives. These five state leaders agree that getting this right sits at the core of America’s future.”

The Bush Institute simultaneously released an updated State of Our Cities, an accountability tool that tracks a range of data in cities including academic outcomes, high school graduation rates, teacher salaries, and school finance. The tool demonstrates that gaining a clear picture on student success in a state or city rests on how these data points paint a complete picture of educational performance.  The state leaders noted above all agree on the importance of measuring what matters most – and using that data to improve outcomes for all kids.

The Bush Institute initially launched The “A” Word series in 2017. By speaking with recognized education leaders who have embraced accountability as essential to their work to improve outcomes for students and families, The “A” Word brought missing voices to today’s accountability debate. The first round of interviews, which included perspectives from former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, former Secretary of Education of New Mexico Hanna Skandera, and former Denver Public Schools superintendent Tom Boasberg, were a combination of national leaders, state leaders, and district/charter management organization leaders.

The “A” Word is part of the Bush Institute Education Reform Initiative’s ongoing efforts to increase student achievement and improve the quality of our schools by using data and research-based education practices and policies with a focus on accountability and principal leadership. The series also appears on The 74, a non-partisan news site covering education in America.


About the George W. Bush Institute

Housed within the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the George W. Bush Institute is an action-oriented, nonpartisan policy organization with the mission of developing leaders, advancing policy, and taking action to solve today’s most pressing challenges. Through three Impact Centers – Domestic Excellence, Global Leadership, and an Engagement Agenda – the Bush Institute delivers measurable results that save and improve lives. To learn more, visit www.BushCenter.org.