1. Arne Duncan is taking advantage of an unbelievably large budget and pushing a tough reform agenda targeting low-income kids and struggling schools. While he'll have his hands full with reauthorization, he has assembled a top notch team.
2. Joanne Weiss leads the mother of all grant program--Race to the Top--with the same skill and diplomacy she exhibited at New Schools.
3. Jim Shelton and sidekick Shivam Shah run grant programs of historically gigantic proportions: i3, Promise Neighborhoods.
4. Gene Wilhoit is pushing state chiefs, supporting common standards, and asking us all to think hard about the future of learning.
5. Eric Smith, FL Commissioner, is leveraging the progress that Gov. Bush made earlier in this decade; he's got a lock on phase 1 Race to the Top money
6. Paul Pastorek, LA Superintendent, is a smart outsider and has maintained post-Katrina intensity.
7. Joel Klein, with support of Mayor Bloomberg, is the best urban school leader and continues to expand impact with Education Equality Project.
8. Joe Williams, Democrats for Education Reform, is reframing partisan debate, challenging historical alliances, and pushing an aggressive performance-based agenda
9. David Steiner, NY Commissioner, and his able deputy John King, got more done in the first few weeks than most chiefs do in a lifetime.
10. George Miller will play the most important role in the reauthorization of major federal education bill.
10 reformers to watch in 2010
1. Alex Johnston, ConnCAN, runs the most effective state education advocacy organization and is thinking about expanded impact.
2. Ben Austin, Parent Revolution, crafted a parent empowerment bargain in Los Angeles and is close to gaining the same power for parents of students trapped in low performing schools statewide.
3. Barb O'Brien, CO Lt. Gov., lead the most extensive RttT outreach effort in the country and pushed her state into likely phase 1 winner category.
4. Gerard Robinson, Black Alliance for Educational Options, recently took the reigns from Howard Fuller.
5. Marjorie Scardino, Pearson, leads the most active R&D and acquisition agenda in the sector and has a clear vision of digital learning services to come.
6. Kim Smith, founder of New Schools, will do something interesting next year; so will Andy Rotherham, founder of EdSector.
7. Larry Berger, Wireless Generation, is working on three of the most interesting projects in the sector with a mixture of private and philanthropic capital.
8. Nelson Smith, National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, is leveraging administration interest in charter schools.
9. Susan Patrick, International Association of K-12 Online Learning, will help shape the explosive growth of online learning.
10. [your suggestion here], I'm holding one spot for someone you tell me about; maybe a superintendent, human capital leader, consultant, state chief?
note: this list obviously incorporates Tom's biases and includes friends, clients, and business partners