Walton Family Foundation Announces Education Reformers to Watch

Mar 27, 2013, 10:55 ET from Walton Family Foundation

Foundation to recognize individuals whose work will empower families  with high-quality, publicly funded educational options

BENTONVILLE, Ark., March 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In order to recognize individuals successfully empowering parents with the choice of high-quality, publicly funded educational options, the Walton Family Foundation launched its Education Reformers to Watch program today. Having invested more than $1 billion in education reform, the foundation is the largest donor to initiatives that support parental choice and competition within education.

Four times a year the foundation will recognize four individuals who are creating and advocating for high-quality choices for parents. Education Reformers to Watch honorees may direct a $10,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to a non-profit education reform organization of their choice. The foundation is also seeking nominations for Education Reformers to Watch at www.educationreformerstowatch.com.

"We are seeing powerful momentum in the national movement to empower parents with more and more choices of high-quality schools," said Ed Kirby, deputy director of the foundation's K-12 education reform initiative. "We are focusing attention on these four reform leaders as they execute big and bold strategies to help tens of thousands of families gain access to publicly funded, high-quality schools of all types, from traditional public schools to public charter schools to private schools."

The inaugural Education Reformers to Watch for the first quarter of 2013 are:

  • Darrell Allison, President, Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina.
  • Mark Gleason, Executive Director, Philadelphia School Partnership.
  • Jason Kloth, Deputy Mayor, Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Lisa Macfarlane, Director, Washington State Education Reform Now/Democrats for Education Reform.

Darrell Allison is working to expand publicly funded private school options for North Carolina's special needs children and will soon launch an initiative to increase the number of rural charter schools across the state. Under Allison's leadership, Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) has been building momentum to increase quality education choices for North Carolina families since 2005 and has successfully worked to remove the state's cap on the number of public charter schools. Allison plans on directing the $10,000 grant to high-performing traditional, public charter and private schools in North Carolina.

Mark Gleason is working with city officials and civic leaders to transform or replace Philadelphia's lowest-performing district, charter or private schools. Gleason and Philadelphia School Partnership's goals include creating 50,000 more seats in high-quality schools within the next five years. Formerly a publishing industry entrepreneur, Gleason has worked since 2010 to raise a $100 million "Great Schools Fund" to increase the number of high-quality schools in Philadelphia. Gleason will be directing the $10,000 grant to Philadelphia School Partnership to support turnaround work.

Jason Kloth, Deputy Mayor of Education in Indianapolis, oversees the Office of Education Innovation and is working to create 30,000 high-quality school seats over the next decade through partnerships between district, charter and private schools as part of the Neighborhoods of Education Opportunity initiative. In 2013, his office is expected to authorize seven new charter schools and anticipates another school in 2014 which combined will double the number of students in mayor-sponsored charter schools. Kloth will be directing a $10,000 grant to Teach For America's Indianapolis Principal Fellowship.

Lisa Macfarlane is Education Reform Now's and Democrats for Education Reform's (DFER) first Washington State director and worked in that role to help campaign for the state's winning charter school initiative last November. Other supporters included the League of Education Voters and Stand for Children. Now, Lisa and her colleagues are turning their attention to implementation and protecting the new law from legal and political challenges. If they're successful, 40 high-performing charter schools are expected to open by 2019. Macfarlane will be directing a $10,000 grant to Education Reform Now to help support their work in Washington.  

About the Walton Family Foundation

Driven by the urgent need to improve K-12 education in the United States, the Walton Family Foundation has invested more than $1 billion to date in initiatives that expand parental choice and equal opportunity in education. Empowering parents to choose quality schools, regardless of type - traditional public, private or public charter school - will help spur the bold transformation of our national K-12 system of public education. Our nation's children will only reach their potential in today's global economy by having access to a high-quality, publicly funded education. Visit the foundation at: www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org.

SOURCE Walton Family Foundation