State schools

Lillian Lowery, former superintendent of public schools who oversaw adoption of new national curriculum standards, dies at 67 – Baltimore Sun

Lillian Lowery, who served as superintendent of Maryland Public Schools for three years, overseeing the transition to controversial new national curriculum standards and reforms to student discipline policies, has died at age 67.

Lowery’s family announced the death on their LinkedIn page on Thursday. Additional details were not immediately available.

Educators state and nation have praised Lowery as a leader and mentor to many in his field.

“His passion for education and equity for all students was unmatched,” US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona wrote on Twitter. “She was a giant in our field and she will be missed.”

Former Governor Martin O’Malley, under whose tenure the public school board hired Lowery in 2012, called her “the best school superintendent we’ve ever had.” He noted that she was recognized for being at the top of her field by her peers across the country and maintained Maryland’s permanent school rankings in Education Week magazine.

“When she walked into a room or into a meeting, she kind of lit up the place with her optimism, drive and skill,” O’Malley said. “She could listen to others, but she could also make her point very strongly.”

Dr. Lowery was originally from Gastonia, North Carolina. She was among the first students to enter North Carolina schools, according to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Education, on whose board Dr. Lowery served.

She received a bachelor’s degree in English education from Central University of North Carolina in 1976 and a master’s degree in education in curriculum and instruction from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 1978, and began her educational career by teaching English to middle school students in his hometown. She then taught in Virginia and, in 1995, held administrative positions, serving as vice principal and superintendent in Fairfax County.

She earned a doctorate in education in educational leadership and policy from Virginia Polytechnic and State University in 2004 and moved into school system administration. She served as Superintendent of the Christina School District in Delaware from 2006 to 2009 and Delaware Secretary of Education from 2009 to 2012, when she was recruited to Maryland.

In Maryland, she oversaw the state’s adoption of the Common Core, a set of standards defining what students should know in different subjects by the end of each grade level. The policy was controversial, but Dr. Lowery has been credited with facilitating state schools in the changes it brought about, including seeking extensions from the federal government to implement it.

While some criticized certain aspects of the Common Core and the high-stakes tests that came with it, Dr. Lowery pointed out that the rigorous standards and tests could serve as tools to show educators “how to meet a student where he is.” found and move it to where they needed to be to succeed in life,” said James DeGraffenreidt, a former state school board chairman who made the decision to hire Dr. Lowery.

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Under his leadership, Maryland also took steps to reduce reliance on out-of-school suspensions, particularly for black and minority students who disproportionately received such punishments, and promoted breakfast programs and free lunches. Dr. Lowery was also known for promoting the professional development of teachers.

“Dr. Lowery has led Maryland through a period of tremendous transition and progress,” state school board chairman Guffrie Smith told the Baltimore Sun in 2015 after Dr. Lowery announced his resignation a year before her four-year contract.”She has positioned our state as a national leader in preparing students.”

The National Association of State Boards of Education named Dr. Lowery its Policy Leader of the Year in 2015, an honor given to policy makers or administrators who have had a significant impact on national education policies and systems. or state.

“Dr. Lowery’s calm, respectful and persuasive leadership style has enabled him to engage educators, policymakers and community stakeholders and build consensus on important education issues, resulting in unprecedented progress and change in Maryland,” said former Maryland State School Board Chair Mary Kay. Finan, who nominated Dr. Lowery for the award, said at the time. “His collaborative and transparent approach has enabled Maryland to reach agreement on key goals that other states have found difficult to achieve.”

She went on to become the first CEO of the educational nonprofit FutureReady Columbus and Vice President of K-12 Policy, Research and Practice at the Education Trust. She joined Educational Testing Service as Vice President of Student and Teacher Assessments in 2018.

She has mentored many educators and administrators across the country, DeGraffenreidt said.

“She was just a wonderful human being and a great leader,” he said.