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Aspen Take Two: The Commission on No Child Left Behind is Back in Business

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If you're enough of an education policy geek to read this blog regularly, you probably remember the Aspen Commission on the Future of No Child Left Behind, which ramped up in 2006 and was charged with devising a bipartisan set of recommendations for improving the law.

At the helm were two former governors, Tommy Thompson, a Republican from Wisconsin, and Roy Barnes, a Democrat from Georgia. And leading the staff was Alex Nock, who is now a top aide for Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.

Recommendations included providing states with incentives for tracking teacher effectiveness and a move towards more common standards. (Sound familiar, stimulus watchers?)

Many of the recommendations were incorporated into a bill introduced by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who was defeated in the 2008 election.

Well, now Congress is supposedly going to get going on NCLB reauthorization early next year. So the commission is back in business and plans to hold a series of hearings over the next four months on issues including turning around low-performing schools and high school improvement. Early next year, it will release an addendum to its original report.

The first hearing will be held next Wednesday, Sept. 2, at Howard University in D.C. It will focus on turnarounds. Witnesses include:

*Steve Barr, founder and chairman, Green Dot Public Schools in Los Angeles
*Natalie Elder, principal, Hardy Elementary School in Chattanooga, Tenn.
*Phyllis Lockett, president and CEO, the Renaissance Schools Fund in Chicago
*Ronald Peiffer, deputy state superintendent for Maryland

Thompson and Barnes are still on board, but the commission also has some new members. The new ones include:

*Danika Lacroix, principal, Young Scholars’ Academy for Discovery and Exploration, Brooklyn, N.Y.
*Michael Lomax, president and CEO, United Negro College Fund
*Paul Pastorek, state superintendent of education for Louisiana
*Greg Richmond, president and CEO, National Association of Charter School Authorizers
*Andres Alonso, superintendent, Baltimore City Public Schools
*F. Philip Handy, CEO of Strategic Industries, and former chairman of the Florida State Board of Education
*Delia Pompa, vice president for education, National Council of La Raza
*Jane Hannaway, director, Education Policy Center at the Urban Institute
*Mike Johnston, state senator and former principal in Colorado
*Tasia Providence, master educator, District of Columbia Public Schools
*Eduardo Cancino, superintendent, Hidalgo Independent School District in Texas
*Dan Schab, mathematics teacher and former Michigan teacher of the year, Williamston High School in Michigan
*Laysha Ward, president of community relations, Target Corp., and president, Target Foundation

Returning members include:

*Dr. Edward Sontag, chief management official, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
*Judith Heumann, director, Department of Disability Services, District of Columbia
*J. Michael Ortiz, president, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Calif.
*Andrea Messina, member, Charlotte County School Board, Florida

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NB: Andrea Messina was on the original Commission.

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