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Press Release: State Board Of Education Has Two New Members

Dukes, Hill Staton Leave Record of Achievement

For Immediate Release                                               Contact: William Reinhard, 410-767-0486

Baltimore, MD (May 19, 2015)

The Maryland State Board of Education welcomed two new members today. Chester E. Finn, Jr., Ed.D. of Montgomery County and Andy Smarick of Queen Anne’s County were appointed by Governor Larry Hogan to fill two seats on the 12-member board vacated by the departures of Charlene M. Dukes, Ed.D. and Donna Hill Staton, Esq., whose terms ended in 2014.

Dr. Finn is a Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute, where he is Chairman of the K-12 Education Task Force. He also is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, where his primary focus is reforming primary and secondary schooling. Dr. Finn has led Fordham since 1997 after many roles in education, academe and government, including professor of education and public policy at Vanderbilt University. He also served as an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Education and was legislative director for U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Mr. Smarick is a partner at Bellwether Education Partners, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping education organizations – in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors – become more effective in their work and achieve dramatic results for students. He served as a deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Education and an education aide at The White House Domestic Policy Council. Mr. Smarick also helped launch a college-preparatory charter school for under-served students in Annapolis and was a member of Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s Commission on Quality Education.

“Maryland is fortunate to have national education experts, such as Dr. Finn and Mr. Smarick, who are willing to serve in state leadership roles to inform and further strengthen our public schools. I look forward to working with them,” said Dr. Lillian M. Lowery, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools.  “Dr. Dukes and Ms. Hill Staton oversaw major improvements in teaching and learning, student safety and advances in digital learning. Our students’ lives are better because of their service.”

During the tenures of Dr. Dukes and Ms. Hill Staton, the State Board established a record of achievements that positively impacted students in a variety of ways. Dr. Dukes was appointed in April 2007 to serve out the remainder of a previous board member’s term and was reappointed in July 2010.  She served for three years as vice president of the Board and was elected Board President in July 2012 and again in 2013 and 2014. Ms. Staton was appointed in April 2009 to serve out the remainder of a previous board member’s term and was reappointed in July 2010.

During their tenure, the State Board of Education adopted higher standards, oversaw the alignment to more advanced state assessments, and increased support for teachers and school leaders. Maryland was recognized for its pioneering work in studying long-term student suspensions and expulsions, and revising its school disciplinary regulations to focus on keeping students in schools and connected to learning.

Maryland in 2011 became the first state in the nation to require environmental literacy education as a high school graduation requirement. The state board focused its work on closing student achievement gaps and this past year, it saw a record high graduation rate and its dropout rate fell to a new low.

Dr. Dukes spearheaded the board’s adoption of the Maryland State Curriculum for Personal Financial Literacy Education and regulations requiring all schools to infuse instruction in financial literacy throughout the school curriculum. Both Dr. Dukes and Ms. Hill Staton led board actions to ensure the financial education curriculum was implemented in grades 3 to 12 in all school systems to equip students to make informed financial decisions throughout their lives. Ms. Hill Staton was particularly instrumental in introducing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to all Maryland public schools. UDL is an educational framework encompassing flexible instruction and assessment that accommodates the learning differences of students and is viewed as an effective strategy for improving student achievement.

During their tenure, state board members conducted a groundbreaking study of concussions and concussion-related issues in Interscholastic Athletics. Following the study, the state board adopted new regulations and safety standards related to Head Injuries and Concussions in Extracurricular Athletic Events.  These new regulations moved beyond previous practice into the most comprehensive concussion avoidance protocol in the nation.