Former Aide to Clinton To Replace the Founding President of Achieve

By Lynn Olson — July 10, 2002 2 min read

Achieve, which was founded by governors and corporate executives following the 1996 national education summit to help states pursue standards-based education, will soon be experiencing a change in leadership.

Robert B. Schwartz

Robert B. Schwartz, the organization’s president since its founding, will step down Dec. 30. Michael Cohen, a former White House aide and assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education in the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton administration, will replace him.

Mr. Schwartz, 64, has been the president of Achieve while serving as a lecturer at Harvard University’s graduate school of education. Until recently, the group maintained two offices, one in Cambridge, Mass., the other in Washington. With Mr. Schwartz’s departure, Achieve will close its Cambridge office and move all operations to the nation’s capital, where most of its staff members are based.

“Particularly with the passage of the ‘No Child Left Behind’ Act,” Mr. Schwartz said last week, “the demands on the organization to help states are only going to grow. And having a full-time person—particularly somebody who is as steeped in federal policy issues and has as much history working with the states as Mike does—made sense.”

State Challenges

The 51-year-old Mr. Cohen oversaw the implementation of the 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act while working for President Clinton. He earlier served as a staff member for the National Governors’ Association and the National Association of State Boards of Education.

“States continue to be at the center of this reform effort,” Mr. Cohen said last week, “and they’ve got, I think, a growing list of challenges on their plate.”

Among other goals, he mentioned improving the quality of state assessments and providing more effective help to low-performing schools.

Since leaving the Clinton administration, Mr. Cohen has been a senior fellow at the Aspen Institute, a think tank based in Colorado, where he has worked on such projects as high school restructuring, the student- achievement gap, and urban education.

Mr. Schwartz, a former head of education programs for the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts, plans to remain at Harvard and to work as a consultant for Achieve. “I’m going to be 65 next year,” he said, “and this just seemed a good time to start the process of spending a little less time on the road, a little more time for reflection.”

A version of this article appeared in the July 10, 2002 edition of Education Week as Former Aide to Clinton To Replace the Founding President of Achieve