State Snapshot

tennessee
Governor

Bill Haslam (R)

2014 Legislative Session

Jan. 14 – mid April

Chief Selection

Appointed by the Governor

State Board of Education

10 members appointed by the Governor, confirmed by the General Assembly

Students
934,246
Schools
1,764
Districts
137

Kevin Huffman

Tennessee Commissioner of Education

A Message from The Chief

Through our Race to the Top reforms, Tennessee has set out to dramatically change the trajectory of our education system by raising student outcomes and closing the achievement gaps that exist in many of our schools. Through Chiefs for Change, we have connected with states across the country that share our priorities—believing in the potential of all students and seeking constant improvement in education on their behalf.

State Snapshot

tennessee
Governor

Bill Haslam (R)

2014 Legislative Session

Jan. 14 – mid April

Chief Selection

Appointed by the Governor

State Board of Education

10 members appointed by the Governor, confirmed by the General Assembly

Students
934,246
Schools
1,764
Districts
137

Kevin Huffman

Tennessee Commissioner of Education

Appointed by Governor Bill Haslam in April 2011, Kevin S. Huffman brings a strong educational leadership background to his role as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Education. Huffman has spent nearly two decades working with public education systems as a teacher, lawyer, non-profit executive and non-profit board member.

Huffman began his education career as a first and second grade bilingual teacher in the Houston Independent School District, teaching students in English and Spanish. He was a member of his school’s elected shared decision making committee, and trained new teachers as a faculty advisor and school director at Teach For America’s summer training institutes.

As a lawyer at the Washington D.C. law firm of Hogan & Hartson, Huffman represented school districts, state departments of education and universities, working on policy and litigation matters including challenges to state finance systems, desegregation litigation and special education hearings and trials.

Huffman joined the senior management of Teach For America in 2000, serving as the general counsel, the senior vice president of growth strategy and development, and the executive vice president of public affairs during more than a decade with the organization. As head of growth strategy and development, he grew Teach For America’s annual revenue from $11 million to over $110 million and managed the opening of 14 new regional sites. As the head of public affairs, he managed all federal policy and legislative work, including passing authorizing legislation through Congress, managing organizational engagement in the reauthorization of education and national service legislation, and overseeing federal grants including receipt of a $50 million Innovation Fund grant. Huffman also managed research and evaluation, communications, state and district policy, and relations with nonprofit and faith community leaders. Huffman served on the organization’s leadership team throughout his tenure, as Teach For America grew into the largest provider of new teachers in the country.

In 2009, Huffman won the Washington Post’s “America’s Next Great Pundit” writing competition, besting nearly 5,000 competitors. He wrote opinion columns for the Post’s editorial page, and has written columns, articles and blogs for multiple publications.

Huffman graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.A. in English Literature in 1992, and from the New York University School of Law in 1998, where he was a member of the Law Review. Huffman has served on the advisory boards of KIPP-Denver, Explore Schools Inc., College Summit, and the National Science Resources Center.

Profile in Reform