In the world of dynamic duos there is no shortage of pairs with their claim to fame. There are outlaws (Bonnie & Clyde) and crime fighters (Batman & Robin); crooners (Simon & Garfunkel) and jesters (Abbott & Costello); class acts (Lucy & Ricky) and aspiring world conquerors (Pinky & the Brain). But what about education policy experts, advocates for students or defenders of reform? Well, in a quirky three story office building in downtown Salt Lake City you can find a pair of reformers who fit the bill: Robyn Bagley and Judi Clark. Respectively, the Board Chair and the Executive Director of Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) are relentless in their determination to ensure each and every Utah student is able to access a high-quality education.
I first met Robyn and Judi in December of 2011. As a colleague and I stepped out of the Salt Lake City Airport, the PCE reform team rolled up to the curb in a white PT Cruiser. Within minutes the vehicle had transformed from automobile to mobile education reform command center as we were briefed on the next set of ambitious reforms they were ready to tackle.
Parents have the right and are best equipped to choose the educational environment that is best for their children.
Children, without regard to race, income, or geography, deserve equal access to a quality education.
Education excellence is achieved through choice, accountability and 21st century innovations necessary to compete in a global economy.
These are the values that PCE is unashamed to stand by as they work to advance choice, parent empowerment, transparent accountability, efficient funding models and quality instruction in their home state. Their ability to couple deep understanding of policy and implementation with effective advocacy and communication channels has earned this duo the respect of state officials and allowed them to share insight on successes and lessons learned with other states that are working to advance reform.
Daily, Robyn and Judi work hand in hand with education leaders and the state legislature – which is full of reform star champions in their own right – to help spearhead policies that put the interest of students at the heart of the state education system. Policies that grade schools on a transparent A-F scale, expand choice and opportunity via online and blended learning, advance one of the country’s pioneering course choice programs, create a system of innovative backpack funding, and help parents of students with special needs find the best schools to educate their children embody the result of their work.
Next time you’re passing through Salt Lake City keep an eye out for these high-heeled heroines of reform, but don’t waste your time looking for them on the sidelines. Robyn and Judi know better than most that success is never final, and where there is work to be done to advance education reform you’re likely to find them in the mix.
About the author
Nadia is the National Advocacy Director for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Nadia helps coordinate the Foundation’s work with governors, law and policy makers, business leaders and organizations who are working to advance state-level, student-centered education policy. In addition to helping coordinate nationwide advocacy efforts, she is also the Foundation’s main point of contact for Texas and Hawaii. Contact Nadia at Nadia@excelined.org