School & District Management

NGA Transition Won’t End Push for ‘Innovation’

By Michele McNeil — July 31, 2007 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Even though her stint as chair of the National Governors Association ended last week, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano is forging ahead with her national “Innovation America” initiative by forming a new foundation and convening a task force to recommend ways of reshaping public schools to help students better compete globally.

“This is my innovative way of keeping the agenda going,” Ms. Napolitano, a Democrat, said in an interview. “Now we’re looking at really tying innovation into the economic future of the states. The vast majority of governors are now engaged in this subject.”

The subject of innovation is, indeed, a broad one. The initiative’s education and technology agenda focused on states’ building strong, competitive K-12 systems with a heavy emphasis on math and science. Ms. Napolitano worked on getting colleges and universities to better connect with their state and regional economies. And she tried to get business leaders involved in the conversation.

Earlier this month, six states—Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia—won $500,000 each from the NGA’s Center for Best Practices to create science and technology education centers.

Ms. Napolitano explained that her initiative tries to answer this question: “How does the U.S. maintain and grow its place in the world as a place where new developments are conceived of and moved to market as quickly as possible?”

Foundation, Task Force

The new Innovation America Foundation, which Gov. Napolitano announced July 23 and is separate from the Washington-based NGA, is slated to start this fall with a public-outreach campaign that seeks to tout the work of American innovators and spur more innovation.

A Web site, www.youinnovate21.net, has been created and in October will showcase the work of high school students from around the country who will be asked to submit 30-second videos explaining what innovation means to them.

The companies and groups that have already pledged to participate in the foundation’s work, according to Ms. Napolitano’s office, include: the Advertising Council, Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., eBay Inc., and the National Science Foundation. In the interview, Ms. Napolitano wouldn’t say how much start-up money she’s already secured for the foundation.

Ms. Napolitano’s one-year term as the chair of the NGA ended during the group’s July 20-23 meeting, which drew about 30 governors to this small community near Traverse City off Lake Michigan. Some superstars were absent. No-shows included Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer of New York, and Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who is running for president.

The new NGA chair, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican who has made high school improvement a priority in his state, has chosen energy as his platform issue for the coming year.

But Gov. Napolitano said she wants to continue the work she started last summer. In addition to the new foundation, she’s working with the NGA as well as the Council of Chief State School Officers and Achieve Inc.—both based in Washington—to convene a task force of corporate executives, state education chiefs, governors’ staff members, university officials, and education think tank leaders.

The task force is to be charged with helping states benchmark their education systems against international best practices, not just against U.S. standards.

Two state schools chiefs, Ohio’s Susan T. Zelman and Wisconsin’s Elizabeth Burmaster, have agreed to serve on the advisory group, according to Ms. Napolitano’s office.

‘Revolution’ Predicted

This fall, states will be invited to take part in a learning lab that will showcase Alabama’s efforts to improve its K-12 standards and offerings in science, technology, engineering, and math, called the STEM subjects.

The NGA has singled out Alabama’s efforts before, most recently in February when the state approved an additional $22 million to expand its STEM initiative.

Gov. Napolitano is pushing states—and is working in her home state of Arizona—to ratify compacts with their postsecondary institutions to encourage them to be more innovative and more closely align their programs with regional economic needs.

From the business community, governors heard that those kinds of changes in education are sorely needed.

“Our education system has fallen flat,” said Randall L. Stephenson, the chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T Inc., during the meeting’s opening session. “We’ve gotten fat and lazy.”

And with so many children learning and communicating in ways different from those of older generations, Google Inc. Chairman and CEO Eric E. Schmidt told the governors that classrooms need to be transformed to harness the power of the Internet, with less reliance on teachers’ standing before students and lecturing.

Mr. Schmidt said: “We are very much at the beginning of a real revolution in education.”

Events

Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education
Reading & Literacy K-12 Essentials Forum Writing and the Science of Reading
Join us for this free event as we highlight and discuss the intersection of reading and writing with Education Week reporters and expert guests.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Leader To Learn From Transforming a School District, One Relationship at a Time
Richard Tomko of Belleville, N.J., schools wants to build an early foundation for students and help those with disabilities flourish.
8 min read
Richard Tomko, Superintendent of Belleville Public Schools in Belleville, N.J., visits Mrs. Gras’ pre-K class and participates in a dancing activity to enrich gross motor skills on Tuesday, January 10, 2023. One of Dr. Tomko’s main initiatives as superintendent has been to grow Belleville Public School’s “Preschool Universe,” which has been largely successful since the opening of the Hornblower Early Childhood Center in 2020. District enrollment in the “Preschool Universe” was at 7.8% in the 2018-19 school year, and is now at 86.7% for the 2022-23 school year.
Richard Tomko, superintendent of Belleville public schools in Belleville, N.J., has deepened community trust while improving the district's financial footing and expanding academic programs.
Sam Mallon/Education Week
School & District Management Photo Essay PHOTOS: A Superintendent Who Exudes Joy in All Things
EdWeek photographer Sam Mallon reflects on her day with Richard Tomko, a 2023 Leaders to Learn From honoree.
2 min read
During a visit to the new Belleville Indoor Training Facility, Richard Tomko, Superintendent of Belleville Public Schools, speaks with Carolyn Guancione, Indoor Training Facility Support Staff, about how the space continues to transform, in Belleville, N.J., on Tuesday, January 10, 2023. The new training facility was built to facilitate and accommodate general physical activity and training for sports teams within the school system and the greater Belleville community.
Richard Tomko, the superintendent of Belleville public schools, speaks with Carolyn Gancione during a visit to the district's new indoor training facility, which is shared with the community.
Sam Mallon/Education Week
School & District Management Opinion Your School Leadership Needs More Student Voice
When one Virginia principal moved from middle school to high school, he knew he would need to find new ways of soliciting student feedback.
S. Kambar Khoshaba
3 min read
Illustration of students holding speech bubbles.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
School & District Management First Latina Selected to Lead National Principals Group
Raquel Martinez is a middle school principal in Pasco, Wash.
3 min read
Raquel Martinez, the principal of Stevens Middle School, in Pasco, Wash., was named president-elect of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She’s the first Latina to hold the position.
Raquel Martinez, the principal of Stevens Middle School, in Pasco, Wash., was named president-elect of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. She’s the first Latina to hold the position.
Courtesy of the National Association of Secondary School Principals