Tuesday, March 14
Gerard Robinson is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he works on education policy issues including choice in public and private schools, regulatory development and implementation of K-12 laws, the role of for-profit institutions in education, prison education and reentry, rural education, and the role of community colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in adult advancement.
Before joining AEI, Robinson served as commissioner of education for the State of Florida and secretary of education for the Commonwealth of Virginia. As president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), Robinson worked to ensure that children in low-income and working-class black families in several states and the District of Columbia were given the opportunity to attend good schools. Throughout his career he has evaluated the effects of reform initiatives on parental choice and student achievement, advocated for laws to improve delivery of teaching and learning, and published essays on how to make good policy to give all children a chance at a good job and future.
A proponent of the importance of education to civil society, Robinson has spoken before audiences in the United States, in China, and in the United Kingdom. Robinson started his career by teaching fifth grade in a private, inner-city school. He is a member of many education-related boards. His issue brief for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools was cited in an amicus brief presented before the Supreme Court of Georgia in 2013.
Robinson has a master of education degree from Harvard University, a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Howard University, and an associate of arts degree from El Camino College.
General Session Panel
Wednesday, March 15
“What’s ahead for Charter Schools in Georgia?”
Mr. Erste is Associate Superintendent for Policy, Charter Schools, District Flexibility, and Government Affairs at the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE). He oversees Georgia’s school district flexibility, charter schools, and legislative support programs, and provides policy leadership and guidance to the State School Superintendent, GaDOE senior leadership, the State Board of Education, and the Georgia General Assembly.
Erin Hames, an attorney and former classroom teacher, is the President of ReformEd, a firm focused on improving educational opportunities and outcomes for children and students. For almost a decade prior to starting ReformEd, Erin served as the senior policy advisor to Governors Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal with a stint in between as Chief of Staff to the Georgia State School Superintendent. Erin and her husband, Ben, live in Atlanta and have two young children.
Dr. Bonnie Holliday
Dr. Bonnie Holliday is the Executive Director of the State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia. Before joining the SCSC staff, Dr. Holliday served as Executive Director of the state’s academic accountability agency—the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. She also worked previously in the Office of Planning and Budget as the Accountability Manager for Georgia’s Race to the Top Innovation Fund. Dr. Holliday currently serves on the state’s Children’s Cabinet as an executive cabinet member and was named to Governor Deal’s Education Reform Commission in 2015 where she was a member of the school choice subcommittee. She was also a member of the 2014 Leaders Cohort for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA).
Dr. Holliday received her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Georgia, and her dissertation research focused on charter school coalition building throughout the state. She taught English and served as the AP coordinator at a public high school in rural Northeast Georgia prior to returning to graduate school.
Tony Roberts, Ph.D. (Moderator)
Tony Roberts is a leading advocate and thought leader of the charter school and larger school choice movement in Georgia. He has served as President and CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association (GCSA) since 2007. Under his leadership, the Association established a broad-based coalition and led the campaign for the successful passage of the Georgia Charter School Amendment to Georgia’s Constitution in November 2012. This was the first instance of a successful ballot initiative supporting charter schools in the United States.
Prior to his current position, he had served as an executive in the following organizations: Texans CAN! Academies (Texas), Campfire USA (Texas), Evergreen Foundation (Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas), United Way, and Sertoma Center (Tennessee).
Ben Scafidi is a professor of economics and director of the Education Economics Center at Kennesaw State University. He is also a senior fellow with the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. His research has focused on education and urban policy.
Previously, he served as chair of the state of Georgia’s Charter Schools Commission, the education policy advisor to Gov. Sonny Perdue, on the staff of both of Gov. Roy Barnes’ Education Reform Study Commissions, and as an expert witness for the state of Georgia in school funding litigation. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia and his B.A. in economics from the University of Notre Dame.
Ben and Lori Scafidi and their four children reside in Kennesaw, Georgia.