Aspen Institute Education & Society Program to Unveil Bipartisan Policy Tools for New Guard of Education Leaders

December 10, 2018

Media Contact: Julien Martinez

Abigail Swisher
Education & Society Program

Washington, DC, December 11, 2018 – With a wave of new education leaders set to take office in 2019, The Aspen Institute Education & Society Program worked with leaders from the left and right, from communities, schools and statehouses, to create new resources for policymakers to better design education policy. The tools will be unveiled at The Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., as part of its “The Changing of the Guard: New Opportunities for Education Leadership” event on December 12, at 10 a.m. ET

The 2018 midterm elections brought about considerable change that will impact the future of education policy. Twenty new Governors and hundreds of new state legislators were elected. These new state leaders will have a tremendous amount of responsibility and authority over education policy, but with limited institutional knowledge at their disposal and many competing demands from other policy priorities. A remarkable 22 states have had new state education chiefs since 2016 alone

Editor’s Note: Press can still register to attend the event here. Alternatively, watch the livestream here. Please plan to arrive by 9:45 a.m. if possible, as the event will begin promptly at 10 a.m.

“Public education is essential to America’s aspirational identity as a land of opportunity,” said Aspen Institute President and CEO Dan Porterfield. “Right now, both opportunity and democracy are in need of renewal. It will require true leadership to end the partisan and ideological debates that have defined education policy in the recent past, to improve education outcomes for all of our communities and to revive the American Dream. Education is an active process that demands the involvement of policymakers, students, educators and families. These resources provide a pathway for all stakeholders to do just that – come together from the beginning stages of policy development all the way through implementation.”

The event will also feature presentations from some of the experts who helped design the new resources, as well as a panel discussion hosted by Aspen Institute President & CEO Dan Porterfield. Speakers will include Veronica Crespin-Palmer, Co-Founder & CEO, Rise Colorado; Senegal Mabry, Advisory Board Member, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance; Manny Lamarre, Executive Director, Nevada Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation;  and Pedro Rivera, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education and Board President, Council of Chief State School Officers.

“New state leaders will have more control, more discretion and flexibility,” explained Pedro Rivera, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education and Board President, Council of Chief State School Officers. “They will have more capacity and policy levers at their disposal than any time in recent memory. I am proud to have been one of many collaborators to help develop resources that our newest colleagues can leverage to develop a research-based approach to education that puts students, families and the workforce front and center.”

“Our school systems can better meet the needs of our students when the families most impacted by educational inequity partner with educators, school leaders and policymakers,” said Co-Founder and CEO of RISE Colorado, Veronica Crespin-Palmer. “Every successful social justice movement in our country’s history has been led by those who are most impacted. These tools will empower all parties to understand the right approach to engaging with one another at the onset of policy development, not after it is too late.”

The new resources for policymakers, which include four issue briefs, three rubrics and two policymaking checklists, flip the traditional approach to education policy and instead put parents, students and the state’s workforce needs front and center bringing a focus on true equity in education. They also provide a pathway for state leaders to return education policymaking and education debates themselves back to the historically non-partisan issue it once was.

“Education is neither a red issue nor a blue issue,” explains Danielle Gonzales, Managing Director of The Aspen Institute Education & Society Program. “But over time we have drifted away from education’s nonpartisan legacy and into a zero-sum game where students emerge as either winners or losers. Too often, the losers are students of color, low-income youth and students with special needs. With the ascension of new state leaders, we felt it was the perfect time to convene leaders from both sides of the aisle, along with parents, students, educators and employers to create materials and resources that prioritize non-partisan, non-ideological solutions to improve educational equity.”

The resources are co-branded by The George W. Bush Institute, Center for American Progress, the Council of Chief State School Officers, The Council of State Governments, Education Commission of the States, Education Strategy Group, Education Reform Now, ExcelinEd, Teach Plus, and RISE Colorado. The event will be held at The Aspen Institute, 2300 N Street, NW, Smith Room, 8th Floor, Washington, DC, from 10 – 11:30 a.m., including a 30-minute press availability after the panel.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, CO; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit



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