In November, Barack Obama bewildered education reformers by tapping Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford professor who had advised his campaign, to oversee the transition's education policy team. Their verdict was swift and harsh. "Worst case scenario," wrote Mike Petrilli, vice president for national programs and policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank, the day after The Wall Street Journal leaked the news. "This is a sign that the president-elect isn't a bona fide reformer," he later told me. Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, confirmed, "The reform community is scared to death."
Bio of Michael Lomax
As president and chief executive officer of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Dr. Michael L. Lomax heads the nation's largest and most successful minority higher education assistance organization. Through its headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, and 24 field offices across the country, UNCF annually provides operating and program funds to its 39 member private historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and their 60,000 students. In addition, it manages more than 400 scholarship programs that support nearly 10,000 students at over 900 of the nation's colleges and universities. In the course of its 62-year history, UNCF has raised and distributed over $2.5 billion and has assisted over 300,000 students in earning undergraduate degrees. In 1999, UNCF received over $1 billion, the largest private gift to American higher education, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to administer the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, which provides outstanding minority students with an opportunity to complete their undergraduate and graduate college educations.
Dr. Lomax joined UNCF after serving in a series of high-level academic and political positions. Immediately before joining UNCF, he served seven years as president of Dillard University in New Orleans.
Dr. Lomax went to Dillard after thirty years in Atlanta, where he pursued simultaneous full-time careers as a university professor and public servant. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Atlanta's Morehouse College (the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King) and, after receiving his M.A. degree from Columbia University and his Ph.D. in American and African American literature from Emory University, taught literature at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges and the University of Georgia.
At the same time, he became a prominent figure in Atlanta government and politics. He began his public service as an assistant to Maynard Jackson, Atlanta's first African American mayor, and went on to serve as the first head of Atlanta's Bureau of Cultural Affairs. In 1978, he was elected to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners. Two years later, he became the Board's chairman, the first African American ever to hold that position and served in that position for twelve years.
Dr. Lomax is a trustee of Emory University, a member of the founding Council of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture, and a member of the Boards of Directors of Teach for America, The KIPP Foundation, The Carter Center, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Studio Museum in Harlem, The Bill T. Jones Dance Company and the National Black Arts Festival, of which he was founding chair. President George W. Bush appointed him to the President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He has also received numerous awards including The Laurel Crowned Circle Award from Omicron Delta Kappa (2006), the distinguished Emory Medal, the Candle in the Dark award from Morehouse College and several honorary degrees.
Dr. Lomax and his wife, Cheryl Ferguson Lomax, have two daughters, Michele and Rachel. His oldest daughter, Deignan, graduated from Dillard University in 2000.
Bio of Ted Mitchell
Ted Mitchell assumed the role of CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund in the fall of 2005, after having served on the NewSchools Board of Directors for seven years.
Prior to joining NewSchools, Mitchell served as the 12th president of Occidental College in Los Angeles. Mitchell's tenure at Occidental was marked by a dramatic improvement in both the College's national reputation and its engagement in the community, as well as by unprecedented financial growth. A former deputy to the president at Stanford University and vice chancellor at University of California, Los Angeles, Mitchell is a national leader in the effort to provide high-quality education for all students and has long been active in California and Los Angeles educational reform initiatives. He currently chairs the Governor's Committee on Educational Excellence, charged with making recommendations to improve California's system of K-12 finance and governance, and is President of the California State Board of Education. He also serves on the boards of a variety of nonprofit education organizations.
Ted graduated from Stanford with bachelor's degrees in economics and history, and also earned a master's degree in history and a doctorate in education there.
Bio of Andrew Rotherham
Andrew Rotherham is co-founder and co-director of Education Sector, an independent national education policy think tank. Rotherham, who Washingtonian Magazine describes as being "at the forefront of U.S. education policy," is also a member of the Virginia Board of Education. In addition, Rotherham writes a monthly column for U.S. News & World Report as well as the widely read and award winning blog Eduwonk.com, which an Education Week study found to be among the most influential sources of information in American education today.
In 1998, Rotherham launched the Progressive Policy Institute's 21st Century Schools Project, which he directed until 2005. Under his leadership, the project became a leading Washington D.C.-based education policy center. It developed public policy strategies to eliminate systemic inequities in American education and to redesign American public education into a system based on universal access to high-quality instruction, public sector choice and customization, common academic standards, and accountability for results. The project's ideas have been implemented in national and state education policy. Washington Post columnist David Broder cited one of the project's major policy proposals as "the clearest evidence of change" in the national education policy debate.
Rotherham previously served at The White House as Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy during the Clinton administration. He managed education policy activities at the White House and advised President Clinton on a wide range of education issues including the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, charter schools and public school choice, and increasing accountability in federal policy. Rotherham also led the White House Domestic Policy Council education team, the youngest person to have done so.
Governor Mark Warner appointed Rotherham to the nine-member Virginia Board of Education in 2005. He was the youngest appointee in the modern era. In addition, Rotherham is currently a member of the board of directors of the Indianapolis Mind Trust and Democrats for Education Reform. He is also a trustee of the César Chavez Public Charter High School for Public Policy in Washington, D.C., and serves on advisory boards and committees for numerous organizations and institutions including The Broad Foundation, Harvard University, the National Governors Association, the National Charter School Research Project, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and the Campaign for a U.S. Public Service Academy. Rotherham is also a member of the Aspen Institute-New Schools Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education 2008 Fellows class.
Rotherham has published more than 100 articles, book chapters, papers, and op-eds about education policy and politics. Doublethink calls him "the go-to guy for those looking for serious, cogent, analysis of the latest education trends" and American School Board Journal says Rotherham is "one of Washington's leading commentators on education policy." He is a regular commentator on National Public Radio, and has written for a wide-range of publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Education Week, The Washington Monthly, and The Times of London as well as academic and trade publications. In addition, Rotherham has authored or edited four influential books on education policy.
Rotherham, recently recognized as one of the "40 People Under 40 to Watch" by Washingtonian Magazine, was born and raised in Virginia and educated in Virginia's public schools and universities. A graduate of Virginia Tech he holds a master's degree from the University of Virginia and is completing a doctorate in political science from the University of Virginia. Rotherham lives in Earlysville, Virginia, with his wife, Julie who worked in international aid and public education prior to taking a professional break to focus on their two young daughters.
Bio of Jon Schnur
Jon Schnur is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of New Leaders for New Schools - a national non-profit organization devoted to improving education for every child by attracting and preparing the next generation of outstanding principals for our nation's urban public schools. Schnur was a policy advisor on K-12 education in president Bill Clinton's administration for seven years, serving as White House Associate Director for Educational Policy, Vice President Gore's Senior Policy Advisor on education, and Special Assistant to U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley.
He spearheaded the development of many educational policies in such areas as teacher recruitment and training, after-school programs, school reform and charter schools.
Schnur spent several months at Harvard designing the business plan for New Leaders for New Schools while taking coursework at the Graduate School of Education, the Business School and John F. Kennedy School of Government. He graduated from Princeton University cum laude in 1989 and from a public high school near Milwaukee, WI, in 1984.