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People: Amy Wilkins Leaves The EdTrust (Again)

Longtime EdTruster Amy Wilkins is leaving for the College Board in January, announced EdTrust honcho Kati Haycock in an email earlier today:

image from www.blacknews.com

"In her many years with us, Amy has made extraordinary contributions to the organization and to the movement for educational justice," writes Haycock in what may be one of the nicest sendoff letters I've seen in years.  "Nobody has cared about low-income kids and kids of color more than she has.  And nobody played a greater role in building The Education Trust into the respected force it is today." 

I've known Wilkins since 1996, when she stalked/befriended me in Senator Bingaman's office  [and many other Hill staffers], and have written about her and the EdTrust's enormous and disproportionate influence over education policy many times on this blog.

In a recent AEI paper I wrote about her arrival on the scene in 1993 when the Trust was just getting off the ground and little if any education advoacy was being done outside of associations and unions. In this February 2012 blog post I named her as one of the best education lobbyists out there and got little if any disagreement.

Haycock leaves out that Wilkins has tried to leave the EdTrust before -- once to run an early childhood initiative that I think was called TEE, and most recently to be the founding ED at DFER (see here). She returned to the Trust in 2007. "This time it's for good," Wilkins promises, via email.

Haycock's email is below.

I’m writing to let you know that, after 16 years at the Education Trust, Amy Wilkins will be leaving early next year to take a new position at the College Board.

 In her many years with us, Amy has made extraordinary contributions to the organization and to the movement for educational justice.   Nobody has cared about low-income kids and kids of color more than she has.  And nobody played a greater role in building The Education Trust into the respected force it is today. 

 Her accomplishments during her tenure with us are too numerous to list.  But chief among them were the provisions of NCLB that stopped the age old practice of hiding the performance of some groups of students under school-wide averages, sending a new message to educators that all students mattered, and the provisions of the Higher Education Act that required teacher preparation programs to be held accountable for the quality of the teachers that they produced.  Neither law was perfect; no federal laws ever are.  But both set us on the path toward better results and more honest accountability. 

 Amy’s departure provides me with the opportunity to reflect not just on what she’s done, but what the entire team accomplished over the past decade and a half. We have helped to draw attention to pressing problems and to the practices in schools and colleges that have successfully overcome them, and we’ve won important policy victories.  But we’ve grown and changed internally, too. When Amy joined us we were a staff of 6 and part of a larger organization. Today we are a staff of 67 brimming with vitality, talent, and smarts—working not just in DC, but in California and Michigan as well.

 Certainly, we will continue to grow and change.  The truth is that we shouldn’t be the same in the future as we were in the past.  Poor kids and kids of color not only need us to stand up for them, they need us to continue reinventing and refreshing the education justice agenda until we reach our goal. 

 One thing, however, will not change:  the organization will remain deadly serious about and laser-focused on providing an ever more effective and powerful voice for the students whose needs too often still come last. 

 After years of beating each other’s ideas into shape and making them better, not to mention years of finishing each other’s sentences, I will miss Amy greatly.  But I know that sixteen years is a long time to do anything, and that she is eager to have uninterrupted time to think about how to diversify the education reform movement.   I am grateful for the time we had. 

 I also know that, even as we search for a replacement for the irreplaceable, our team won’t miss a beat. 

 Cordially,

 

Kati

 

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