Conservative Leaders for Education is a campaign comprised of leading state lawmakers and education chairs focused on ensuring conservative principles gain traction in state policy decisions as states begin to develop accountability plans under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
The enactment of ESSA which supplants No Child Left Behind (NCLB) decidedly returns the principal authority of education policymaking to its rightful place: states and localities. We are now requiring states to develop state-specific implementation plans covering things like teacher evaluations, assessments, and plans on how they will intervene in the states’ lowest performing schools.
ESSA presents us with a unique window of time to weigh in and shape education policies in a way that leaves a lasting and meaningful imprint. Conservatives currently control more state legislatures than at any time in modern history. Let’s seize the day and create a brighter future for education in America.
William J. Bennett is one of America’s most important, influential, and respected voices on cultural, political, and education issues. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Bill Bennett studied philosophy at Williams College (B.A.) and the University of Texas (Ph.D.) and earned a law degree (J.D.) from Harvard. He is currently the Chairman of Conservative Leaders for Education and serves on the Advisory Board of Udacity, one of the world’s leading online education organizations, as well as the Advisory Board of Viridis Learning, Inc. He is also a Senior Advisor to HigherEducation.com, which specializes in assisting universities in marketing their degrees.
Over the course of his professional life, in education, government and the private sector, Dr. Bennett has succeeded in a trifecta of American institutions. He is an award-winning professor in academia, having taught at Boston University, the University of Texas, and Harvard; he is a three-time confirmed executive in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations including holding two cabinet-level positions, Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan and the Nation’s first Drug Czar under the first President Bush. He was formerly the host of Morning in America, one of the largest national talk shows in the country, and is now host of The Bill Bennett Interview, a nationally syndicated series of exclusive, in-depth interviews aired across the country on the Salem Radio Network. And he is also an experienced technology entrepreneur, having been the founding Chairman of K12.com a multi-billion dollar online education company. He is the author of more than 24 books, including two New York Times number one best sellers and two of the most successful books of the 1990s.
Mary Scott Hunter currently serves as a member of the Alabama State Board of Education. Mary Scott’s political focus areas have included Workforce Development, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics), Career Technical Education, and closing Alabama’s School-to-Prison Pipeline.
Representative Paul Boyer currently serves as the Chairman of the Arizona House Education Committee. In 2017, he worked closely with Governor Doug Ducey and a broad coalition of education reformers to create a new Results-Based Fund in the state’s school finance formula that focuses on top performing schools. Representative Boyer also teaches at Veritas Preparatory Academy, a charter school in Phoenix, Arizona.
Senator Jane English currently serves as the Chairwoman of the Arkansas Senate Education Committee. Senator English formally served as the Executive Director of the Arkansas Workforce Development Board and as member of the State House of Representatives.
Senator Owen Hill currently serves as the Chairman of the Colorado Senator Education Committee. He has been a strong advocate for private education, and he has made equal funding for charter schools and traditional public schools a top priority. Senator Hill is an Air Force Academy Graduate.
Representative Michael Bileca currently serves as the Chairman of the Florida House Education Committee. He has passed significant education reform measures such as expanding choice options for special needs children and enacting the nation’s largest Education Savings Account program.
Lieutenant Governor Cagle has established himself as a bold leader and champion for education and economic development. He authored the book, “Education Unleased,” discussing student reform and measuring classroom achievement. Lieutenant Governor Cagle served in Georgia’s State Senate.
Senator Amy Sinclair currently serves as the Chairwoman of the Iowa Senate Education Committee. Senator Sinclair advocates for strong local control of schools; improved teacher, student and parent accountability; and renewed pre-eminence for Iowa’s educational system.
Representative Bob Benning currently serves as the Chairman of the Indiana House Education Committee. Representative Behning believes all parents deserve the right to choose the school that best meets their child’s needs. In 2011, Representative Behning authored legislation creating the School Choice Scholarship program, providing families who do not have the financial means to pay the cost of tuition at a private school with a scholarship/voucher.
Senator Mike Wilson currently serves as Senate Majority Whip. He is the former Chairman of the Kentucky Senate Education Committee. Senator Wilson led passed of SB1 in early 2017, a measure to improve the state’s education accountability system. The legislation was the first to use the guidance of the Every Student Succeeds Act to usher in state education reforms.
Representative Kathy Swan currently serves as Chairwoman of the Missouri House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education. She is also the Chairwoman of the Missouri Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia, a member of the Missouri Career and Technical Education Advisory Council, and a member of the Missouri School Improvement Plan 6 Development Team.
Senator Peggy Lehner currently serves as Chairwoman of the Ohio Senate Standing Committee on Education. She has also been at the forefront of efforts to align K-12 education with college and career readiness by working with stakeholders from across the country to find innovative solutions to Ohio’s challenges.
Senator Gary Stanislawski currently serves as Chairman of the Oklahoma Senate Education Committee. After graduating college, he entered the Air Force and earned his pilot’s wings in 1984. Senator Stanislawski flew for eight years, piloting B-52s and the B-1 Bomber.
Pennsylvania: Senator John Eichelberger
Senator John Eichelberger currently serves as the Chairman of the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee. Senator Eichelberger is a strong advocate for providing the opportunity for students to have a choice about where they attend school, and reforming public education.
Tennessee: Senator Dolores Gresham
Senator Delores Gresham currently serves as Chairwoman of the Tennessee Senate Education Committee. She had served in the State House of Representatives before her election into the State Senate. Senator Gresham also serves as the Vice-Chair of the Women’s Caucus.
Donna Bahorich currently serves as Chairwoman of the Texas State Board of Education. Her focus includes promoting courses that will ensure students are college and career ready, including strong Career and Technical Education class that will increase opportunities for students after high school.
Senator Howard Stephenson currently serves as the Chairman for the Utah Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee. He is a champion for personalized learning. Senator Stephenson also serves on the National Conference of State Legislator’s State Policy and Research for Early Education (SPREE) Working Group.
Delegate Paul Espinosa currently serves as Chairman of the West Virginia House Education Committee. He also co-chairs the Joint Standing Committee on Education, and serves on the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability, and the Joint Technology Committee.
Senator Luther Olsen currently serves as the Chair of the Wisconsin Senate Education Committee. He also serves on the Executive Committee and Steering Committee for the Education Commission of the States (ECS). Senator Olsen previously served as the Vice-Chair of ECS and was Co-Chair of the Education Committee for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
President: Karen Nussle
Karen Nussle serves as President of Conservative Leaders for Education. A veteran communications strategist with experience in the private, public, political and non-profit sectors, Karen has owned and operated a successful boutique communications firm, Ripple Communications, held positions at both Burson-Marsteller and Prime Policy Group, and has considerable non-profit leadership experience. Karen worked for Newt Gingrich when he was Minority Whip and made the historic move to The Speaker’s Office in 1994. She served in a variety of roles in The Speaker’s Office, including policy advisor on education issues.
Christopher Mohrman has worked for 25 years on issues at the intersection of public policy, law and politics. Before receiving his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Mr. Mohrman held various positions in the administration and campaigns of Governor Tommy Thompson. In addition to leading campaign roles, Mr. Mohrman assisted in the development, passage, and implementation of many of Thompson’s groundbreaking reforms, including education reform.
Mark has a broad background in education policy, advocacy, and lobbying. Previously, as the Georgia DOE Chief of Staff, Mark was responsible for all administrative functions of the department, including direct supervision of the legal, legislative, public relations, personnel, procurement, and budgetary staffs. He has represented education clients before the Georgia General Assembly, State Board of Education, State Charter School Commission, and the Technical College System of Georgia.
Thom is a former North Carolina State Senator. As accomplished attorney and law professor with two decades of experience in the public and private sector, Goolsby well understood North Carolina law and the state’s legal system. During his time in the state legislature he served on the Senate Education and Higher Education Committee. With vast experience in legislative service, practicing and teaching law, military leadership and media relations, Thom Goolsby stands ready to help his clients achieve their public policy objectives.