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Gendron Tapped for Education Policy Task Force
Group to recommend first 100 days education strategy to Obama’s transition team
December 2, 2008
AUGUSTA – Maine’s Education Commissioner, Susan A. Gendron, returned Monday night from a meeting of state education chiefs aimed at offering a 100-day transition plan for President-elect Barack Obama’s yet-to-be-named secretary of education.
The 10 chiefs were appointed by the new president of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), which was the first member group to engage in a conversation with Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford University professor and education advisor to President-elect Barack Obama. Darling-Hammond participated in the discussions on Monday, held at the offices of CCSSO in Washington, D.C. CCSSO President T. Kenneth James, the education chief in Arkansas, said his goal is to present a document to President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team on Dec. 15 that communicates the chiefs’ recommendations for the first 100 days they are in office.
“We focused on how the 50 states and the CCSSO could partner with the new administration in ensuring that each child graduates prepared for work, college and citizenship,” Gendron said after the meeting. “We all acknowledged that NCLB (the No Child Left Behind Act) had been beneficial, but it was now time to focus on how to build on strong standards with a focus on 21st century skills, expanded learning opportunities, and differentiated practice in the classroom to reach every child.”
At Gendron’s suggestion, the group recommended investing in expanded broadband as part of the anticipated economic stimulus package to reach all learners from pre-kindergarten to adult. The education chiefs also encouraged a transition team to examine recently adopted rules for NCLB, the Family Educational Rights and Policy Act (FERPA), and Medicaid to determine if they advance or hinder the goals of improving achievement for all students, expanding longitudinal data systems, and increasing funding for special education through Medicaid dollars.
The chiefs also spoke to Darling-Hammond about: state education agency resources and capacity; innovation; the need to move beyond a compliance-driven relationship with the U.S. Department of Education; the importance of more research and development on best practices in teaching; maintaining accountability with the support of better tools and resources; and professional development.
“The CCSSO team saw this as an opportunity to build strong relationships with the new President-elect’s transition team as well as staff from Sen. Edward ‘Ted’ Kennedy's and Congressman George Miller's offices,” Gendron said. Staff from those two offices also participated in the discussions.
Serving on the transition task force with Gendron are the state education chiefs from Texas, California, Iowa, Wisconsin, Kansas, Alabama, Illinois, Rhode Island and Virginia.
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