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An 'Alliance' on ESEA Reauthorization?

Good news for fans of overhauling high schools: Two veterans of the Alliance for Excellent Education, whose signature issues include boosting graduation rates and high school quality, are likely to play key roles in helping lawmakers craft the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Bethany Little already serves as the top education adviser on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

Now, Jamie Fasteau has been hired by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, as a senior education policy adviser. The position was left vacant when Alice Johnson Cain left the committee to work on teacher quality issues for the Hope Street Group.

Most recently Fasteau, whose bio you can find here, served as a vice president at the alliance. Before that, she worked for Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., focusing on legislation affecting children and families. And she was a senior lobbyist for the National PTA, as well as a government-relations manager for the American Association of University Women.

The alliance, which is headed by former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, a Democrat, has been instrumental in shining a spotlight on schools with very high dropout rates, and in helping to champion legislative remedies such as these bills. Having Little and Fasteau in such important staff positions could give a boost to those efforts.

And the organization has had a hand in the Common Core State Standards Initiative, an effort headed by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association to craft more rigorous, common state standards. The feds, including Congress, are largely staying out of that effort.

UPDATE: Jason Amos at the alliance emailed me to say that Gov. Wise did not start the group, as I had originally stated. He wrote, "The Alliance was founded in 2001 by philanthropists Gerard and Lilo Leeds. Susan Frost was the Alliance's first president and served from 2001-2004. Gov. Wise came aboard in 2005." Thanks Jason!

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