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New at The A Word: State Education Leaders Speak Out on School Accountability
This week’s edition of The A Word: Accountability-The Dirty Word of Today’s Education Reform presents interviews with four state education leaders: Hanna Skandera, Kevin Huffman, Felicia Cummings Smith, and Gerard Robinson.
Skandera led New Mexico's schools from 2010 to 2017. Huffman headed Tennessee's education system from 2009 to 2015. Robinson was chief of Virginia's schools from 2010 to 2011, and Florida's schools from 2011 to 2012. And Smith served as Kentucky’s chief academic officer and associate commissioner of education from 2009 to 2014.
As state leaders, their decisions impacted thousands of students. That includes the decisions they made about their state accountability systems.
They each believe in the fundamentals of accountability: raising academic standards, testing students independently to make sure they meet those standards, and assigning consequences to the results. At the same time, they have ideas about how to improve accountability systems, starting with getting classrooms better supports to help students overcome learning deficits.
You can read more of these conversations at our site, as well as at The 74, the non-partisan education news site that simultaneously is publishing these Bush Institute interviews. And next week, we will wrap up with the views of several education leaders at the local level, plus a set of recommendations for accountability’s future.
William McKenzie is editorial director for the George W. Bush Institute, where he also serves as editor of The Catalyst: A Journal of Ideas from the Bush Institute.
Active in education issues, he co-teaches an education policy class at SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development. He also participates in the Bush Institute’s school accountability project.
Before joining the Bush Institute, the Fort Worth native served 22 years as an editorial columnist for the Dallas Morning News and led the newspaper’s Texas Faith blog. The University of Texas graduate’s columns appeared nationwide and he has won a Pulitzer Prize and commentary awards from the Education Writers Association, the American Academy of Religion, and the Texas Headliners Foundation, among other organizations. He still contributes columns and essays for the Morning News and The Weekly Standard.
Before joining the News in 1991, he earned a master’s degree in political science from the University of Texas at Arlington and spent a dozen years in Washington, D.C. During that time, he edited the Ripon Forum.
McKenzie has served as a Pulitzer Prize juror, on the board of a homeless organization, and on governing committees of a Dallas public school. He also is an elder of the First Presbyterian Church in Dallas, where he lives with his wife and their twin children.Full Bio
Preparing All Kids for an Unpredictable Future
This essay, which draws from remarks that Bush Institute Education Reform Director Anne Wicks gave at the Bush Center's Forum on Leadership, appeared last week on The 74.
Forget the Edu-Wonks. NAEP Scores Should Get the Attention of Workforce Development Leaders
There is no shortage of buzz in the education policy world about the scores from the 2017 NAEP exam. But the people who really ought to be thinking about the results from the so-called “Nation’s Report Card” are the ones in charge of developing the workforce in a state or community.
Accountability Systems Need to be Simple Enough for Parents and the Public to Understand and Act Upon
What we need is a constant balancing of fairness and simplicity. This should be a primary goal for states like Texas now that the new Every Student Succeeds Act gives them more responsibility for holding schools accountable for their results.