State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced today that he has appointed Ryan Smith as the new Chair of his statewide Closing the Achievement Gap Initiative. Smith’s work will align with the initiative’s goals, which include addressing ways to close the achievement gap and improving educational outcomes for all California public education students.
“Ryan is a leader in the efforts to close the achievement gap, and specifically in how we can use policy, advocacy, and research to make change,” said Thurmond.
“I can’t think of anyone better to lead these efforts for our state, which is one of the priorities of my office.”
Thurmond launched his Closing the Achievement Gap initiative with a forum in February focusing on schools throughout the state that have shown success in closing the gap for African Americans and other students of color. He followed that up with a second forum in April to address recruitment and retention of teachers of color. Smith’s appointment is the next step in assuring that these efforts continue with the highest priority and level of expertise.
Smith is currently Chief External Officer of Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, which launched in 2007 as a collaboration between the Los Angeles Unified School District, donors Richard and Melanie Lundquist, the City of Los Angeles, and other public and private partners, to accelerate achievement for students across the district. He was formerly Executive Director of The Education Trust-West, a research and advocacy organization focused on education justice and the high academic achievement of all California students, particularly students of color and those living in poverty. His projects included the Black Minds Matter report, which focused on supporting the educational success of black children in California, as well as the study, “The Majority Report: Supporting the Success of Latino Students in California”.