Louisiana Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek has been selected to chair Chiefs for Change, a newly formed bipartisan group committed to bold Pre-K – 12 public education reforms. Pastorek was joined by education leaders from four states Tuesday when the initiative was announced in Washington, D.C., during the opening session of the annual national summit of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a reform organization headed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

The chiefs collectively committed to continue their pursuit of controversial, yet critical changes with a sense of urgency in both their individual states and on the national policy front. Bush has agreed to provide the group with staffing and financial resources.

“As we seek to improve K-12 public education across our country, never before has so much seemed possible,” Pastorek said in a prepared statement. “At the same time, the stakes couldn’t be higher. The economic viability of our country and the future of our next generation are reliant on the courage and willingness of national, state, and local leaders to move beyond what is politically comfortable and to bring about crucial changes in policy and practice. We must begin by recognizing that the ‘best interest of our students,’ is not simply a rhetorical phrase or tag line to promote the good will of one agency or another. It’s a non-negotiable gauge that requires us to implement with urgency strategies that have proven to increase academic achievement. It’s a commitment that requires us to put children first and adults second. And while we must be thoughtful and continue to collaborate with those who are resistant to change, as state leaders who are pushing for change on the front lines, we appreciate the benefit of pushing together. Chiefs for Change signifies our support for each other and our collective allegiance to advocate for proven, student-centered reforms.”

In addition to Pastorek, members of Chiefs for Change include Eric Smith, Florida Commissioner of Education – Vice Chair; Tony Bennett, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction; Deborah Gist, Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education; and Gerard Robinson, Virginia Secretary of Education.

Louisiana is nationally recognized for its progressive Pre-K – l2 public education reform initiatives, including its charter school policies, human capital strategies and the state’s Recovery School District, which has been successful at transforming some of the state’s lowest performing schools. The Fordham Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to researching, publishing, and directing projects in elementary and secondary education, recently pegged New Orleans as the most reform-friendly city in the country, crediting the city for “jumping on its unique opportunity to rebuild the city — and its once abysmal schools — from the ground up.”

“It’s an honor to be among these leaders,” Pastorek said. “And it’s a testament to the progress and potential of our state.”

For a copy of the mission and guiding beliefs of Chiefs for Change, click here.

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