Andy Smarick on His New Job

Andy Smarick, NJ’s new Deputy Commissioner of Education, explains why he’s leaving the Fordham Foundation and taking on education reform in the Garden State:
It seems to me that there’s never been a better time to work on these issues at the state level. As a rule, the most important education policies are made in state capitals, and that’s doubly true right now. The burgeoning national education reform movement has been given extra energy by the Race to the Top, and to an extent never seen before state governments are tackling, or at least discussing, the most pressing issues.

New Jersey has a new governor who believes deeply in choice and accountability, and he’s committed to reforming his state’s K-12 system. The state commissioner is of the same mind, hoping to tackle school finance, teacher quality, and much more. I’m especially excited to get to lend a hand to the effort to improve Newark’s schools. The city has a set of superb charter organizations, a remarkably strong nonprofit support infrastructure, and a hard-charging mayor.

I’ve been very lucky in my career to be able to bounce in and out of government at different levels with spells in the non-profit and think-tank world. The last year plus has been a blessing; I’ve had the chance to rebuild my stores of intellectual capital and work on a number of terribly interesting issues. I’m very excited about the opportunity to put this thinking and writing to work–both because I believe deeply in certain reform strategies and because it’s important for a pundit to step up and put his money where is mouth is.