Go Big, Be Bold & Be Impatient: Reflections from 2018 ExcelinEd Summit
December 13, 2018

More than 1,000 legislators, state superintendents, policymakers, and advocates recently gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s National Summit on Education Reform. Advocates from across the PIE Network shared their insights and expertise during the 11th annual event, which included panelists from Network members America Succeeds, the Colorado League of Charter Schools, Educators for Excellence, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Ready Colorado, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute-Ohio, and TNTP.

Attendees explored topics such as strengthening states’ career and technical education programs, improving charter schools’ facilities access, addressing gaps in teaching capacity, and much more. Though Governor Jeb Bush, ExcelinEd’s founder and chairman, could not attend the event due to funeral services for his father, he kicked off the Summit via video with a key message for attendees:

“go big, be bold, and be impatient.”

Below, Network members share their most important takeaways and favorite sessions from this year’s ExcelinEd Summit. Interested in learning more? Check out additional highlights via #EIE18, and click here to watch keynotes from Dr. Howard Fuller and other leaders.

“This conference always seems to have breakout sessions that present practical tools we can take home with us.”

Thomas Rains, vice president of operations and policy at A+ Education Partnership, found that a session on early literacy was the most valuable for his work: “We are working with Gov. Ivey in Alabama to launch a statewide Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, and hearing from the panelists during that session was exactly what I needed.”

“As an education advocate in Hawaii, it is critically important to step outside my own context at times to learn about cutting edge ideas and conversations happening at the national level.”

David Miyashiro, executive director at HawaiiKidsCAN, said he appreciated the opportunity to hear from other advocates and leaders grappling with topics such as innovation and modernizing career and technical education. He added, “As a data nerd, I was particularly transfixed by Dr. Chetty’s presentation on the Opportunity Atlas.”

“Hearing from education innovators from across the country motivates us to continue making these gains by protecting and building on reforms that are helping us do better for students.”

For Victor Evans, incoming executive director of TennesseeCAN, this year’s Summit served to drive home how important the key pillars of opportunity, innovation, and quality are to improving student learning outcomes, both nationally and in his home state of Tennessee. “For the past decade, we have worked to increase options for students and families, while holding teachers and schools accountable,” Evans said. “As a result, Tennessee has been ranked as one of the fastest-improving states in the nation for education…and we cannot go backwards.”

“U.S. Senator Ben Sasse’s remarks were a timely reminder of the importance of high-quality educational experiences for students inside and outside of the classroom, starting from birth and continuing throughout the educational pipeline.”

In addition to Sen. Sasse’s keynote, another session highlight was learning about OpenStax, a website offering college-level, peer-reviewed, and open-access textbooks completely free for students to use, said Courtney Bollig, government affairs and communications associate at The Education Trust. According to Bollig, “This approach to college affordability is unique and could have major implications for equity work as Congress looks to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.”


    Christina Dobratz

    Christina is PIE Network's Project Manager, Communications & Policy  


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