The Excellence and Equity Commission

Partners for is partnering with many former commissioners from the Equity and Excellence Commission, and others. For more information about the commission itself, read on.

The Commission

In February 2011, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appointed members of the congressionally-chartered national Commission on Educational Equity and Excellence to make recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education and the nation. The appointees, each an expert and prominent voice in the field, included current and former education officials from all levels of government, academic and policy researchers, civil rights leaders, the presidents of the national teachers’ unions, education policy advocates and associations, and public interest lawyers. Also serving were ex officio subcabinet education officials from the Department of Education and White House. As their work began, the Commission members’ central task, 30 years after A Nation at Risk, was to propose a reformulation of purpose and strategy for the myriad federal, state, and local efforts to improve education outcomes for our children and the nation.

The Report

After two years of deliberation, drafting and negotiation, the Commission issued a consensus report, For Each and Every Child: A Strategy For Education Equity & Excellence, that adopted over 50 pages of analysis and recommendations for work at all levels. The report was unanimous—an unexpected and noteworthy accomplishment in view of the perspectives represented. For Each and Every Child included a clarion call and five “clusters” encompassing scores of evidence-based policy principles. The report was proffered as guidance—a polestar—for a decade and more of struggle to come.

Read The Report

Read Report Compendium

Former Commission Co-Chairs

Christopher Edley, Jr.

Christopher Edley Commission Co-Chair: Chris Edley has been dean of University of California, Berkeley Law School since 2004 and is also senior policy adviser to the university president. He was co-founder of two multidisciplinary think tanks: the Civil Rights Project at Harvard, where he taught law for 23 years; and Berkeley’s Chief Justice Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity. Edley held White House policy positions under Presidents Carter and Clinton and was on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar

Mariano-Florentino CuéllarCommission Co-Chair: Mariano-Florentino (Tino) Cuéllar is the Stanley Morrison Professor of Law and co-director of the interdisciplinary Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. His teaching and research focus on administrative law, executive power and how organizations manage public health and safety, migration and citizenship, and security problems. He serves on the board of directors of the Constitution Project, a bipartisan initiative to improve the public’s understanding of important constitutional issues. He has served in the Clinton and Obama administrations and is a member of the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States.

Former Commissioners

Russlynn Ali

Russlynn Ali: Served as Ex-Officio from February 2, 2011, through November 30, 2012; Served as Commissioner from January 14, 2013, through the end of the Commission. Russlynn Ali works with the Emerson Collective, LLC. She served as the assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education from March of 2009 through November 2012. As assistant secretary, Ali was Secretary Duncan’s primary adviser on civil rights and responsible for enforcing U.S. civil rights laws as they pertain to education—ensuring that the nation’s schools, colleges and universities receiving federal funding do not engage in discriminatory conduct related to race, sex, disability or age. Until her appointment to the Department of Education, Ali had been a vice president of the Education Trust in Washington, D.C., and the founding executive director of the Education Trust–West in Oakland, California, since 2001. In those positions, she developed and implemented a long-range strategy to close achievement gaps among public school students in California; worked with school districts to improve curriculum and instructional quality at high-poverty and high-minority public schools; and designed, field-tested and implemented comprehensive audit tools that examined inequities in schools and districts.

Cynthia Brown

Cynthia Brown: Cindy Brown is the vice president for education policy for the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the Center for American Progress, she was appointed by President Carter as the first assistant secretary for civil rights in the U.S. Department of Education and has worked for the Council of Chief State School Officers as director of its Resource Center on Educational Equity, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Children’s Defense Fund.

Mike Casserly

Mike Casserly: Mike Casserly has served as the executive director of the Council of Great City Schools, the nation’s primary coalition of large urban public school systems, since January 1992. Prior to assuming this position, he served as the organization’s director of legislation and research for 15 years.

Linda Darling-Hammond

Linda Darling-Hammond: Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University, where she has launched the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and the School Redesign Network and served as faculty sponsor for the Stanford Teacher Education Program. She is a former president of the American Educational Research Association and member of the National Academy of Education. Her research, teaching and policy work focus on issues of school restructuring, teacher quality and educational equity.

Reed Hastings

Reed Hastings: Served as Commissioner and Co-Chair from February 2011 through August 2011: Reed Hastings co-founded Netflix as a DVD rental by mail company in 1997. Reed is an active educational philanthropist and board member of many nonprofits. In addition, he was president of the California State Board of Education from 2000 to 2004. He has led successful statewide political campaigns for more charter public schools and easier passage of local school bonds.

Sandra Dungee Glenn

Sandra Dungee Glenn: Sandra Dungee Glenn is the president and chief executive officer of the American Cities Foundation. In 2001, she Sandra Dungee Glenn was appointed to the Board of Education for the School District of Philadelphia, and she served from 2002 to 2007 as a commissioner on the School Reform Commission (SRC), the governing body of the School District of Philadelphia. In September 2007, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell appointed her to the position of chairwoman of the SRC. In 2009, Governor Rendell appointed her to the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.

Eric Hanushek

Eric Hanushek: Rick Hanushek is the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. He has been a leader in the development of economic analysis of educational issues, and his work on efficiency, resource usage and economic outcomes of schools has frequently entered into the design of both national and international educational policy. His research spans such diverse areas as the impacts of teacher quality, high-stakes accountability and class-size reduction on achievement along with the role of cognitive skills in international growth and development.

Karen Hawley Miles

Karen Hawley Miles: Karen Hawley Miles is executive director and founder of Education Resource Strategies, a nonprofit organization in Boston, Massachusetts, that specializes in strategic planning, organization and resource allocation in urban public school districts. Her work aims to help states, districts and schools rethink resource allocation and empower principals to create great schools and redirect resources to promote excellent teaching, individual attention for children and productive instructional time.

Kati Haycock

Kati Haycock: Kati Haycock is currently serving as the president of the Education Trust. She previously served as executive vice president of the Children’s Defense Fund, the nation’s largest child-advocacy organization. A native Californian, Haycock founded and served as president of the Achievement Council, a statewide organization that helps teachers and principals in predominantly minority schools improve student achievement.

Ben Jealous

Ben Jealous: Ben Jealous is the 17th president and chief executive officer of the NAACP and the youngest person to hold the position in the organization’s nearly 100-year history. During his career, he has served as president of the Rosenberg Foundation, director of the U.S. Human Rights Program at Amnesty International and executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a federation of more than 200 African American community newspapers.

John King

John King: John King is the commissioner of education and president of the University of the State of New York. He is the co-founder of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Massachusetts and was a managing director of the Uncommon Schools, a nonprofit charter management organization.

Ralph Martire

Ralph Martire: Ralph Martire is executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. Martire teaches a master’s-level class on education finance and fiscal policy for the University of Illinois and Roosevelt University. He has received numerous awards for his work on education policy reform, including the 2007 Champion of Freedom Award, presented by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition to individuals whose professional work embodies Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s commitment to equal educational opportunities.

Matt Miller

Matt Miller: Matt Miller is a columnist for the Washington Post, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the host of Left, Right & Center, public radio’s popular political week-in-review program. A former Clinton White House aide, Miller is also the author of The 2 Percent Solution (2003) and The Tyranny of Dead Ideas (2009), books that in part addressed issues of educational inequity. He consults to corporations and nonprofits on issues of strategy, policy and communications. Miller also serves on the board of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.

Marc Morial

Marc Morial: As president of the National Urban League since 2003, Marc Morial has been the primary catalyst for an era of change—a transformation for the 100-year-old civil rights organization. His energetic and skilled leadership has expanded the League’s work around an empowerment agenda, which is redefining civil rights in the 21st century with a renewed emphasis on closing the economic gaps between whites and African Americans as well as rich and poor Americans.

Michael Rebell

Michael Rebell: Michael Rebell is a professor and executive director of The Campaign for Educational Equity, at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is also an adjunct professor of law at Columbia Law School. Previously, he was counsel for plaintiffs in Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State of New York.

Ahniwake Rose

Ahniwake Rose: Ahniwake Rose (Cherokee) is the executive director of the National Indian Education Association. She also served as a policy analyst for the National Congress of American Indians. Leading the human resources legislative team, Rose’s position at NCAI encompasses addressing and leading national policy initiatives that serve to empower Tribes and Indian communities to improve their overall health and well-being. Rose’s portfolio includes health, education, nutrition and child welfare. Prior to joining NCAI, she worked for the Department of Education as a consultant implementing Presidential Executive Order 13336, providing culturally appropriate education to Indian students through the No Child Left Behind Act.

Jesse Ruiz

Jesse Ruiz: Jesse Ruiz is a corporate and securities partner in the law firm of Drinker, Biddle & Reath LLP. From 2004 until 2011, he served as chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, which oversees the operation of the state’s school system for 2.1 million students in grades pre-K-12 and administers an $11.1 billion annual budget. In 2011, Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed him as the vice president of the Chicago Board of Education—the third-largest school district in the nation. He also formerly served on the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) Government Affairs Committee and the National Association of Latino Elected/Appointed Officials (NALEO) Education Task Force. He now serves on the board of directors of the Illinois Association of School Boards, on the Illinois Council on Re-enrolling Students Who Have Dropped Out of School and on the City of Chicago Early Learning Executive Council.

Jim Ryan

Jim Ryan: Jim Ryan joined the faculty of the University of Virginia’s School of Law in 1998 after completing a two-year public interest fellowship in Newark, New Jersey. His scholarship focuses primarily on law and educational opportunity, and he has written a book on the topic, published by Oxford University Press, titled Five Miles Away, A World Apart. He has published numerous articles on school finance, school desegregation, school choice, school governance, a right to preschool and the No Child Left Behind Act, which have appeared in the leading law journals in the country.

Thomas Saenz

Thomas Saenz: Thomas A. Saenz is the president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), a national civil rights legal organization. Previously, as counsel to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Saenz helped to lead the legislative effort to change the governance of the Los Angeles Unified School District. As a MALDEF attorney, Saenz was involved as lead counsel in several lawsuits related to educational equity and access in California. For 11 years, he has been a member of the appointed Los Angeles County Board of Education.

David Sciarra

David Sciarra: David Sciarra is the executive director of the Education Law Center (ELC) in Newark, New Jersey. ELC works to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for low-income students, students of color and students with special needs through policy initiatives, action research, public engagement and, when necessary, legal action.

Robert Teranishi

Robert Teranishi: Robert Teranishi is an associate professor of higher education at New York University and co-director for the Institute for Globalization and Education. Teranishi’s research is broadly focused on race, ethnicity and the stratification of college opportunity. His work has been influential to federal, state and institution policy related to college access and affordability.

Jacquelyn Thompson

Jacquelyn Thompson: Jacquelyn Thompson is the recently retired director of the Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services at the Michigan Department of Education. She is a past president of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education as well as a former coordinator of the Michigan Education Policy Fellowship Program.

José Torres

José Torres: José Torres is the superintendent of School District U-46 in Elgin, Illinois. Previously, Torres served as area instructional officer in Chicago Public Schools, a district with 675 schools and more than 430,000 students. Torres has also served as assistant superintendent of student support services for Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Maryland.

Dennis Van Roekel

Dennis Van Roekel: Dennis Van Roekel, a 23-year teaching veteran, is the president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union and advocate for quality public schools. He has served two terms as NEA vice president and NEA secretary-treasurer, and he has held key positions in all levels of the association, including Arizona Education Association president and Paradise Valley Education Association president. His accomplishments include dramatic increases in membership among teachers and education support professionals while president of the Arizona Education Association and a notable rise in voluntary political action committee contributions during his term.

Randi Weingarten

Randi Weingarten: Randi Weingarten is president of the 1.5 million–member American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, which represents teachers; paraprofessionals and school-related personnel; higher education faculty and staff; nurses and other health-care professionals; local, state and federal employees; and early childhood educators. She was elected in July 2008, following 11 years of service as an AFT vice president.

Doris Williams

Doris Williams: Doris Terry Williams is executive director of the Rural School and Community Trust. Williams guides the organization’s work with a network that has numbered more than 700 rural schools and communities in 35 states, connecting student work to local community development needs; strengthening the capacity of rural people to advocate for quality public education; and improving the climate for teaching and learning in rural places. Williams has more than 35 years of experience as an educator and education policymaker and was previously assistant dean and associate professor in the School of Education at North Carolina Central University.

Ex Officios

Robert Gordon

Robert Gordon: Robert Gordon is the associate director for education, income maintenance and labor at the Office of Management and Budget within the White House (soon to be named the executive associate director of OMB). In that role, he helped shepherd through the president’s education reforms and, along the way, instituted reform that helps make sure that those funds are being used in the most effective way and with measurable outcomes. Previously, Gordon was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he focused on education and domestic policy. He has clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, worked as a staffer in the U.S. Senate, run domestic policy in two presidential campaigns and helped overhaul the multibillion-dollar school budgeting system in his home town of New York City.

Martha Kanter

Martha Kanter: Martha J. Kanter is the undersecretary of education. In this position, she reports to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and oversees policies, programs and activities related to postsecondary education, vocational and adult education, and federal student aid. From 2003 to 2009, Kanter served as chancellor of the Foothill–De Anza Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation, serving more than 45,000 students with a budget of approximately $400 million. In 1993, she was named president of De Anza College and served in this position until becoming chancellor. Kanter has served as a board member or officer in a wide variety of national, state and local organizations, including the League for Innovation in the Community College, the Community College League of California, Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, Peninsula Open Space Trust, the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, the Mexican Heritage Corporation, the Rotary Club of Palo Alto and the California Association of Postsecondary Educators of the Disabled.

Carmel Martin

Carmel Martin: Carmel Martin is the assistant secretary for planning, evaluation and policy development at the Department of Education. In this position, she serves as a senior adviser to Secretary Arne Duncan on K-12 and postsecondary education policy and oversees the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development (OPEPD), which coordinates policy and budget activities with the department’s principal offices as well as with the Office of Management and Budget, the House and Senate education committees and state education agencies. OPEPD is home to the Education Department’s Budget Service, the Performance Information Management Service, the Policy and Program Studies Service, the Office of Educational Technology and the Family Policy Compliance Office, which works to protect student privacy. Prior to coming to the department, Martin served as general counsel and chief education adviser to Senator Edward Kennedy for his work on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. She previously worked at the Center for American Progress as the associate director for domestic policy and in the Senate as chief counsel and senior policy adviser to Senator Jeff Bingaman and special counsel to Senator Tom Daschle.

Tony Miller

Tony Miller: Anthony Wilder Miller is the deputy secretary of education, the chief operating officer of the Education Department. Prior to joining the department, Miller had been an operating partner since 2007 with Silver Lake, a leading private investment firm with more than $15 billion in capital. From 2003 to 2006, Miller was executive vice president of operations with LRN Corporation, a market-leading provider of governance and compliance software, and legal research services. In addition to his private-sector operating experience, Miller worked extensively with the Los Angeles Unified School District from 1997 to 2000, developing student achievement goals and strategies, aligning budgets and operating plans, and designing metrics and processes for monitoring districtwide performance. Through his service as an ex officio member of the Board of Education of the City of Los Angeles’s Budget and Finance Committee in 2002 and 2003, Miller became particularly familiar with school district budget issues.

Roberto Rodriguez

Roberto Rodriguez: Roberto J. Rodríguez serves in the White House Domestic Policy Council as special assistant to President Obama for education. Previously, Rodríguez was chief education counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. In this capacity, he managed the Democratic education agenda for the committee and led policy development and strategy for legislation addressing early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, higher education and adult education. Rodríguez began his tenure on Capitol Hill working for the Senate HELP Committee on the development of the No Child Left Behind Act. He has worked on various reauthorizations of federal legislation, including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Head Start, Child Care, Higher Education and the America COMPETES Act.

Joanne Weiss

Joanne Weiss: Joanne Weiss is chief of staff to the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. She joined the department in 2009 to serve as senior adviser to the secretary and director of the Race to the Top Fund. In this capacity, she led the department’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top program, designed to encourage and reward states making systemwide, comprehensive and coherent education reforms. Prior to joining the administration, she was partner and chief operating officer at NewSchools Venture Fund, a venture philanthropy firm working to transform public education by supporting education entrepreneurs and connecting their work to systemic change. At NewSchools, Weiss focused on investments and management assistance for a variety of charter management organizations, human capital solutions providers and academic tools and systems designers; in addition, she oversaw the organization’s operations. Prior to her work at NewSchools, she was chief executive officer of Claria Corporation, an e-services recruiting firm that helped emerging-growth companies build their teams quickly and well. She previously spent 20 years in the design, development and marketing of technology-based products and services for education. She was co-founder, chief executive officer and, before that, vice president of products and technologies at Academic Systems, a company that helped underprepared college students succeed in mathematics and writing. Weiss also served as executive vice president of business operations at Wasatch Education Systems, where she led product development, customer service and operations for this K-12 educational technology company. She began her career as vice president of education research and development at Wicat Systems, where she was responsible for the development of nearly 100 multimedia curriculum and assessment products for K-12 schools. Weiss has a passion for education and has spent much of her career pioneering innovative work to increase the effectiveness of teaching and learning processes. She holds a degree in biochemistry from Princeton University.

Senior Administration and Department of Education officials served as ex officio members. Ex officio members included Robert Gordon (OMB), Robert Rodriguez (WH DPC), Tony Miller, Martha Kanter, Carmel Martin, Joanne Weiss, and Russlynn Ali—NOTE: Russlynn served as an ex officio member until December 2012, and then Arne appointed her to the Commission in January 2013.

**Biographies from 2013