Standards Advocate Named To Lead Achieve Group

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After a six-month search, the group of governors and business leaders that created a nonprofit resource center to raise standards in K-12 education has selected someone to run it.

Robert B. Schwartz, the former head of education programs for the Pew Charitable Trusts in Philadelphia, is to become the president of the center, known as Achieve, on July 1, officials from the group announced last week.

Since September, Mr. Schwartz has been on the faculty of the graduate school of education at Harvard University, an appointment he said he will keep.

Achieve will have its headquarters in the Boston area, said Mr. Schwartz, instead of Washington as had been expected.

Achieve was created as a way for the governors and corporate chief executives who gathered at last year's national education summit in Palisades, N.Y., to follow up on their promises to improve academic standards, student assessments, and the use of technology in schools. ("'Entity' Has New Name and $5 Million in Support," Oct. 23, 1996.)

Out Front on Standards

After being turned down by one candidate, Achieve's directors settled on a man who is seen as being able to hit the ground running.

In discussions prior to the 1996 summit, Mr. Schwartz pushed the governors and corporate leaders to embrace the idea of a new organization focused solely on pushing higher standards--the same entity that became Achieve. While at Pew, he oversaw its shift in educational giving from higher education to K-12.

Some in the education reform community had wondered if the Achieve board would be able to find someone with strong education credentials who could work with an opinionated group and whom educators and politicians alike would consider palatable.

For the board, populated as it is with some conservative Republicans, to select a former education adviser to then-Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts, a liberal Democrat, really speaks to Mr. Schwartz's abilities, said John F. Jennings, the director of the Washington-based Center on Education Policy and a former Democratic congressional aide.

The board could not have made a better choice, Mr. Jennings said "He's very knowledgeable, he's very energetic, and he knows everyone," Mr. Jennings said. "He's been a pivotal person during this whole standards movement."

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