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School Choice Advocate to Lead Independent Schools Association

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John E. Chubb, the interim chief executive officer of the think tank Education Sector and a longtime and vocal advocate for school choice measures such as vouchers, was recently named the new president of the National Association of Independent Schools.

The NAIS board's appointment of Chubb, who was a member of Mitt Romney's education advisory team and the founder, senior executive vice president, and chief education officer of EdisonLearning, has sparked some backlash from the private school community. One member of NAIS, Chris Thinnes—the head of the upper elementary school, academic dean, and director of The Center for the Future of Elementary Education at Curtis School—published an open letter to the NAIS board, expressing concerns about the decision.

In the letter, Thinnes takes issue with Chubb's defense of the federal No Child Left Behind law and his criticism of teachers and teacher training programs. He contrasts Chubb's statements with those of current NAIS president Pat Bassett, who has led the nonprofit membership association of 1,400 independent private K-12 schools for the past 12 years. Thinnes points out stark differences in their fundamental ideas about how education works:

Bassett explored assessment in the 21st century as an opportunity for more individualized and deeper learning; Chubb advocates for one-size-fits-all standards and trumpets the virtues of "achievement." Bassett understood the value of great public school models, and promoted respectful collaboration with their constituents; Chubb explicitly articulates his contempt and disdain [for public schools]. Bassett recognized that private schools serve an unjustly narrow segment of our national population; Chubb demonstrates no such awareness or concern.

Chubb is scheduled to take over as president of the Washington-based association on July 1.

He could not be reached for comment at the time of this post, but look for additional analysis about this appointment in the coming week.

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