Learning First Alliance

Strengthening public schools for every child


Alexandria, VA –  June 21, 2016 –  For the first time, the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) recognizes the expertise that educators can bring to the policymaking process and calls for collaboration by practitioners and policymakers – but it gives few details on how those groups should work together. To facilitate that process, Learning First Alliance (LFA) today proposes principles to guide stakeholder engagement.

ESSA requires states and localities to bring together educators, parents, and other leaders to determine policies and practices under the new law.

“We appreciate that lawmakers have recognized the shared and overlapping responsibilities of education decision making,” said Stephanie Hirsh, executive director of Learning Forward and chair of the Learning First Alliance. “ESSA creates a process to integrate the expertise and firsthand experiences teachers, principals and other school staff can bring to policymaking. Ultimately, this collaboration will bring more stability to our education systems as it ensures the expertise of those who have the greatest stakes in our public schools have a hand in developing policies and practices.”

ESSA gives little guidance on how the process should take place, so further steps are needed to ensure that the right people are at the table and the process works as the lawmakers intended, Hirsh said.

Among the principles proposed, LFA is requesting that the consultative process:

  • Be a discussion process that includes goal-setting and development of principles aimed at defining and executing policy, not just information sharing;
  • Be sustained, with stakeholder participation in discussions at the decision-making, implementation, and evaluation stages;
  • Include participants who have a stake in the law and represent groups or individuals who will hold their representatives accountable;
  • Be initiated or reinitiated by a participant if the process stalls;
  • Be transparent and open to the public

The principles are intended for the states and districts that have not yet started the consultative process or are in the beginning stages, or those who are undertaking the work in a manner inconsistent with the intention of the law.

Download the principles here.

View the complete release here.


Alexandria, V.A. – February 18, 2016 – Veteran education advocate Richard M. Long will be the Executive Director of the Learning First Alliance (LFA), the coalition of 15 national education organizations representing more than 10 million parents, educators and policymakers, its Board of Directors announced today.

Long has spent the past four decades working in education policy, most recently as an independent consultant. He was the Government Relations Director for the International Reading Association for 37 years, while concurrently serving as Executive Director/Government Relations Director for the National Title I Association from 1995 to 2014.

“We are thrilled that Richard will bring his expertise as a nationally known advocate, writer and commentator to the Learning First Alliance, particularly as the federal government begins its regulatory process for the Every Student Succeeds Act,” said Stephanie Hirsh, LFA Board Chair and Executive Director of Learning Forward.

Under Long’s leadership, LFA will focus on the implementation of ESSA, while continuing work on college- and career-ready standards through its “Get It Right” campaign.

“I look forward to working as a part of Learning First Alliance’s continued advocacy for public education and higher-level learning,” Long said. “The members of LFA want to ensure that the Every Student Succeeds Act will work for all students, and they are committed to the consultative process that will bring local and state educators’ expertise into the ESSA implementation.”

Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association and chair of LFA’s executive search committee, noted that LFA has been a facilitator of leading education organizations for two decades. “Richard Long’s extensive experience in Washington and education policy will ensure the Learning First Alliance continues to cultivate relationships that advance best practices in public education.” 

View the complete release here.


Alexandria, V.A. August 31, 2015 Learning First Alliance Executive Director Cheryl Scott Williams announced her retirement from the organization on Dec. 31, 2015. Williams has led the Alliance, a coalition of 15 national education organizations, since 2010.

LFA’s Executive Board has organized a search committee, chaired by National School Boards Association Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel, which has hired Strategic Performance Group to facilitate the search.  

“Cheryl Williams has very capably brought together the LFA member organizations to advance teaching and learning in public schools across the country,” said Stephanie Hirsh, the 2015-16 LFA Board Chair and Executive Director of Learning Forward. “On behalf of the LFA member groups, we wish Cheryl the best in her retirement, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration and commitment to public education.” 

During Williams’ tenure, the Alliance led a communications campaign to change the narrative around public education and the professionals who work in the public education system. As part of that initiative LFA hosted a blog series on Education Week and created presentation tools to support the campaign. Under Williams’ leadership for the past two years, LFA has led the Get It Right: Common Sense on the Common Core, a national campaign showcasing the need for time, support and resources to implement college and career ready standards and the schools, districts, and educators who are using effective strategies in implementation of that major school improvement initiative.

Williams is a nationally recognized leader in education reform and improvement through development of collaborative working teams among and within large education organizations. Prior to working with LFA, Williams served as a senior consultant at APQC. She was previously Vice President, Strategic Initiatives at Teachscape, a San Francisco-based company that designs and delivers online, job-embedded professional development for teachers and principals. She also worked as Vice President, Education at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and as Director of Education Technology Programs at NSBA. She began her career in education as a classroom teacher of middle and high school English.

Working with the LFA Search Committee, Strategic Performance Group has begun its search for the organization’s next executive.

“The Learning First Alliance serves a critical role in convening major education organizations in Washington,” Gentzel said. “The work and relationships cultivated within LFA help advance research and best practices in public education and provide an invaluable service to its members as well as local school officials across the country.”

Strategic Performance Group (SPG), a management consulting firm based in Vienna, Va., is a group of organization development specialists and industrial psychologists that specializes in assisting nonprofits with talent acquisition and management. Partner Christina L. Greathouse will facilitate the search for LFA. Interested candidates should send their résumé in the strictest confidence to:

Christina L. Greathouse, Ph.D.
Partner, Strategic Performance Group

View the complete release here.


CoSN Chief Executive Officer Keith R. Krueger to serve on Alliance’s board

Washington, D.C. – July 9, 2015 – The Learning First Alliance (LFA), a partnership of leading education organizations representing more than 10 million parents, educators and policymakers, welcomes the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), a nonprofit organization that serves as the voice for K-12 school system technology leaders in North America, as its newest member. CoSN’s Chief Executive Officer Keith R. Krueger will serve on LFA’s board of directors as the Alliance continues its work for the advancement of public education.

“CoSN’s dedication to empowering educational leaders and supporting public education aligns closely with our work at LFA as a whole,” said Cheryl S. Williams, executive director of the Learning First Alliance. “The addition of this organization to the Alliance, as well as the added leadership of Keith Krueger on our board, will be a major asset as we continue our outreach and advocacy efforts.”

CoSN is the professional association for district technology leaders. For more than two decades, CoSN has provided leaders with the management, community building, and advocacy tools they need to succeed. Today, CoSN represents more than 10 million students in school districts nationwide and continues to grow as a powerful and influential voice in K-12 education.

Krueger has served as CoSN’s CEO since 1995. Technology & News selected him as one of the “big 10” most influential people in ed tech in 2015.  In 2008 he was selected by eSchool News as one of ten people who have had a profound impact on educational technology over the last decade.

He serves on many Advisory Boards including eSchool News, the Education Committee of the National Park System, the Friday Institute at NC State University and the Wireless Reach Advisory Board. He is a past Board Member/Treasurer of the National Coalition on Technology in Education & Training (NCTET). 

Krueger has a global reputation as a key thought leader and has organized senior-level U.S. delegations to visit Australia, Asia, Europe, and South America to examine best practices in information and communication technologies in education. As a Certified Association Executive (CAE), he has an extensive background in nonprofit management and has a Masters from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

View the complete release here.