Illinois’ new superintendent of schools started work Friday.  Tony Smith, the former superintendent in Oakland, Calif., got the job without the state Board of Education conducting a search. It turns out Smith met the governor last year during the campaign. Smith was involved in the W. Clement Stone and Jesse V. Stone Foundation, which supports early childhood education, and the governor’s wife runs an advocacy group, the Ounce of Prevention Fund, on the same subject.
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“Where we really connected was around quality, the question of what should kids expect and when we were talking about this, he said what are good schools, what’s it like, how’d you do it in Oakland,” Smith says of his relationship with the governor. “We had long conversations about what good looks like, and I think that’s where we really hit it off.”
Smith served on a policy committee for the governor’s transition.
Smith says he wants to see to it that taxpayers get value for their money – that means students making academic progress.
He also acknowledges there’s too much testing. He says we need standardized tests to see how students, teachers, schools, districts and the state are doing, but there’s too much testing now.
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