U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has selected Haley Barbour, the former governor of Mississippi, to serve as chairman of the board that oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress, along with two other new members.
Barbour, who also served as chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997, will serve as chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board for a term that lasts until Sept. 30, 2023, DeVos said in an announcement Thursday. (Technically, the term for which DeVos appointed Barbour began on Oct. 1 of last year.) Barbour currently works at a D.C. lobbying and public-relations group he founded, BGR.
Mississippi received a great deal of praise following the release of the most recent scores on the NAEP—the Magnolia State was the only state in the nation to demonstrate improvement on the 4th grade reading assessment; the NAEP is commonly referred to as the “nation’s report card.” Barbour served two terms as Mississippi’s governor from 2004 to 2012, successfully pushing for “full funding” for the state’s K-12 funding formula in 2007. He favored providing more money to current preschool service providers instead of creating state-backed services. And he was not a big fan of Race to the Top.
“I especially want to thank Governor Barbour for his willingness to serve as board chair,” DeVos said in a statement announcing the appoint of Barbour and two others to the governing board. “His experience leading education reform in Mississippi, the fruit of which is seen in the latest Report Card, is one of many assets he will bring to the table.”
This is not the first time an ex-governor has been picked to lead the NAGB. Former Michigan Gov. John Engler, a Republican, served as chairman of the NAGB for the term covering 2017 to 2018, for example.
Barbour’s lobbying firm’s clients in 2019 included Alabama State University and the University of Mississippi.
In addition to Barbour, DeVos also picked Christine Cunningham, a professor of education at Pennsylvania State University, and Patrick Kelly, a 12th grade teacher in Columbia, S.C., to serve on the NAGB.
Photo: Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour speaks during first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)