Six district superintendents were announced Tuesday as new members of Chiefs for Change, the national education advocacy group that for most of its existence supported an agenda that included school choice and the Common Core State Standards, but has recently revamped its policy priorities to include implementation of the new federal K-12 law, talent development, and extending the reach of practices that improve student learning.
The group, which started in 2010 as an affiliate of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which was founded by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, once consisted solely of state school chiefs. But the organization has recently started adding superintendents of large urban school systems, including those who run state-created districts focused on turning around low-performing schools. (The organization became an independent non-profit in 2015.)
Among the 17 current members, seven are school superintendents, and two are state education chiefs. Other members include the state superintendent of education in the District of Columbia; four former state school chiefs; two former district superintendents, and the chancellor of Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority.
Three of the new superintendents are from Florida: Robert Avossa of Palm Beach County; Desmond Blackburn of Brevard County; and Barbara Jenkins of Orange County.
The others are Tom Boasberg, the longtime superintendent in Denver, who is currently on a sabbatical; Antwan Wilson of Oakland Unified in California; and Chris Cerf, the state superintendent of the school system in Newark, N.J.
Cerf first joined Chiefs for Change in 2011 when he was the state commissioner in New Jersey.
“These leaders understand that change is not a criticism of the past but a recognition that our schools and systems need to adapt to serve today’s students, as well as tomorrow’s,” Mike Magee, Chief for Change’s CEO, said in a news release announcing the additions. “They are focused on empowering students, families, teachers, and school leaders. These Chiefs will help us continue to advocate for students across the country, and we look forward to working closely with each of them.”
Jenkins from Florida’s Orange County district said she was pleased to join forces with other school leaders who are committed to finding solutions to the challenges students encounter.
“I believe these committed leaders will offer diverse solutions to the challenges our students face, and that our alignment around a common vision for educating all students will afford us an opportunity to impact change on a national scale,” Jenkins said in the statement.