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Director of State Chiefs' Group Recovering from Heart Attack

Gene Wilhoit, the executive director of the influential Council of Chief State School Officers, is recovering from a heart attack that occurred over the holidays.

In a note sent to state schools superintendents today, Wilhoit said that he suffered a heart attack on Christmas Eve, when he was with his family and friends. He said he expects to make a full recovery and return to work at the CCSSO full time in six to eight weeks.

The CCSSO has been a major player on education issues spanning the state and federal policy spectrum. It was one of the main organizers of the effort to establish common standards across the states, and it has taken a lead role in voicing state concerns over the No Child Left Behind Act and in trying to shape the law's reauthorization in Congress.

"Please know that CCSSO will continue to support your efforts to advance your education reform priorities while I am out," Wilhoit wrote in a letter to state chiefs. "This is a great time for state education reform, and I am confident that states will continue to deliver in this new year."

Wilhoit has served as CCSSO's executive director since November of 2006, according to the organization. A former social studies teacher, he led state education agencies in Arkansas and Kentucky earlier in his career. During his recovery, he asked the chiefs to work with Chris Minnich, CCSSO's membership director. Minnich said that his boss was already eager to return.

"He's ready to go," Minnich said. "If you know anything about Gene, his doctors are going to have to hold him back."

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