Monday, May 08, 2023

Texan Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds to lead Tenn. education department as Penny Schwinn exits

Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds

 By Marta W. Aldrich, Chalkbeat, May 1, 2023- Penny Schwinn will step down as Tennessee’s education chief at the end of this school year and be replaced by a former Texas administrator who currently oversees policy for the Jeb Bush-founded advocacy group ExcelinEd.

Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds will become the first Hispanic American to lead Tennessee’s education department when she starts her job on July 1.

... The changes, announced Monday by Gov. Bill Lee, come at a critical time for the state’s 1 million public school students and just a few months into the second term of an administration that has been one of the most active in history on changing education policies.

Tennessee is shifting to a new education funding formula, enforcing a controversial new third-grade retention policy for struggling readers, operating large-scale tutoring and summer learning programs to help students catch up from the pandemic, expanding its private school voucher program to a third major city, and fortifying its school buildings after a Nashville school shooting left six people dead on March 27. Replenishing Tennessee’s teacher supply is also a priority. ... In Reynolds, Lee has chosen a leader who is heavy on political and policy experience but who has little to no experience leading a classroom. 

...she was deputy legislative director for then-Gov. George W. Bush and later served as chief deputy commissioner for the Texas Education Agency. ... At the federal level, she worked in the Bush administration under U.S. education secretaries Rod Paige and Margaret Spellings. Since 2016, Reynolds has been vice president of policy for ExcelinEd, launched by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in 2008 to pursue education policies that he believes improve student learning and lessen inequities. They include emphasizing early literacy and school accountability, and giving families more education choices such as charter schools and vouchers. (read more)

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