President Michael Ortiz has been selected to again serve on the national Commission on No Child Left Behind, a bipartisan panel composed of educators, policy experts and business leaders who are assessing how to improve student performance, teacher and principal effectiveness, and school accountability and standards.
The commission announced Wednesday an expanded membership and plans for a series of hearings nationwide, which will inform its recommendations to improve the No Child Left Behind Act.
Ortiz was a member of the original commission, which three years ago conducted hearings, sought public feedback and studied No Child Left Behind extensively before issuing a blueprint to strengthen the important legislation, which President George W. Bush signed into law in 2002 following passage by a bipartisan majority in Congress.
“We must close achievement gaps and raise expectations for all so that each child can be prepared to succeed in the future and the nation can remain preeminent in the global economy,” the commission said in its 2007 report, “Beyond NCLB.”
The commission embarks on its new round of work at a propitious time. No Child Left Behind is due for reauthorization in Congress, and the group’s findings and recommendations should be well received on both sides of the political aisle, as they were two years ago. In addition, the federal economic stimulus package (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, or ARRA) has put education reform in the spotlight. The U.S. Department of Education’s proposed guidelines for awarding funding under the ARRA largely align with the commission’s 2007 recommendations.
Ortiz, one of four returning members, will have a unique vantage point as the lone university president.
“The challenges facing all levels of education require innovative solutions,” Ortiz said. “I look forward to working with the commission as we identify opportunities that can reenergize our educational policies and advance our economy.”
The commission will work in a committee structure, with Ortiz serving on the group assessing teacher and principal effectiveness. Other groups will look at school improvement; accountability, data and standards; and high school reform. Each will conduct hearings to gather information, feedback and expert analysis. Commission co-chairs are former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and former Georgia Gov. Roy E. Barnes.
“We must reaffirm our national commitment to closing the achievement gap and improving the academic success of all children,” Barnes said. “As we move closer to reauthorization of the law, it is important to take a fresh look at our recommendations to ensure they have kept pace with research, practice and policy that has developed during the past two and a half years.”
The commission’s first hearing, Sept. 2 at Howard University in Washington, D.C., will explore the challenge of chronically low-performing schools and examine what can be done to more effectively address the issue. For more information, see the commission’s website at www.nclbcommission.org.
Other members of the commission are, by committee:
Teacher and Principal Effectiveness
- Jane Hannaway, director, Education Policy Center, the Urban Institute, and director, National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research
- Mike Johnston, state senator and former principal, Colorado
- Tasia Providence, master educator, District of Columbia public schools
- Danika Lacroix, principal, Young Scholars’ Academy for Discovery and Exploration, Brooklyn
- Michael Lomax, president and CEO, United Negro College Fund
- Paul Pastorek, state superintendent of education, Louisiana
- Greg Richmond, president and CEO, National Association of Charter School Authorizers
- Edward Sontag, chief management official, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Accountability, Data and Standards
- Andres Alonso, CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools, Maryland
- F. Philip Handy, CEO, Strategic Industries, and former chairman of the Florida State Board of Education
- Judith Heumann, director, Department of Disability Services, District of Columbia
- Delia Pompa, vice president for education, National Council of La Raza
High School Reform
- Eduardo Cancino, superintendent, Hidalgo Independent School District, Hidalgo, Texas
- Andrea Messina, member, Charlotte County School Board, Florida
- Dan Schab, mathematics teacher and former Michigan Teacher of the Year, Williamston High School
- Laysha Ward, president of community relations, Target Corp., and president of the Target Foundation
The commission, housed by the Aspen Institute, is funded by some of the top education foundations in the nation, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Joyce Foundation and the GE Foundation.