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NEWS RELEASES 2000-01 :: AUGUST 1, 2000


Former Wake County Schools Superintendent Bob Bridges has been named chairman of an advisory commission established to help the state find ways to close the achievement gap and challenge all students to reach higher standards.

Bridges' announcement was made today by State Superintendent Mike Ward. Ward proposed the Commission as one of 10 measures designed to help close the achievement gaps between students and to help challenge all students to reach higher standards.

The Advisory Commission on Raising Achievement and Closing Gaps will have its first meeting Thursday, Aug. 24, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., First Floor Auditorium, Education Building, Raleigh.

In naming Bridges as chairman, Ward said, "Bob Bridges is a proven leader. He has the experience as a school administrator, the commitment to this state, and a professional history of addressing these issues that make him an excellent choice to lead this commission. He will be joined by a number of other educators and citizens who will delve into this issue and help guide the direction of public schools to close the achievement gap and challenge all students to reach higher standards."

Bridges too is excited about the potential this group has to make a difference in this area. Bridges said he has seen some improvements in the years since he was a young administrator with the newly-merged Wake County and Raleigh City schools, but these occasional "islands of success" need to be expanded and maintained. He said he looks forward to working with the other Commission members, State Superintendent Ward and the State Board to put together a sustained effort to close the gap, an effort he said the state has never before realized.

Bridges is intrigued by the window of opportunity offered by the broad-based public interest in closing the gap. The General Assembly's attention to this issue, interest by the private sector and what he views as the commitment of the State Superintendent and State Board to find ways to deal with the gap problem are causes of optimism.

Bridges was a teacher and administrator with the Raleigh Public Schools and the Wake County Schools for 28 years. He was Wake County superintendent from 1984-89. From 1989-91, Bridges was Provost of Saint Augustine's College in Raleigh. Bridges is president of Education Initiatives, Inc., a consulting firm he started to train school teachers and administrators.

Other members on the Commission include: Cathy Owens and Gladys Robinson, Guilford County; Tammie Sligh, Onslow County; Calvin Wallace and Bob Davis, Mecklenburg County; Forrest Toms, Catawba County; Karen Campbell and Virgil Smith, Buncombe County; Nolo Martinez, Matty Lazo-Chadderton, Aura Camacho-Maas, Ann McColl, and Peter Leousis, Wake County; Olivia Oxendine, Moore County; Anthony Locklear, Orange County; Mitch Tyler, Hoke County; Judy Grissom, Alamance County; Sammie Campbell-Parrish, Durham County; Tom Campbell, Chatham County; Sharon Pennell, Caldwell County; Leonard Peace, Granville County; Brenda Greene and Lucy Edwards, Northampton County; Mildred Wilson, Halifax County; Cathy Allen, Hertford County; Edwin Dominowski, New Hanover County; John Stokes, Wayne County; and Faye Riner, Cumberland County.

The Commission will work in an advisory capacity to the State Superintendent and the State Board. It will be staffed by Marvin Pittman, senior assistant to the State Superintendent and a leader who has spent years working to raise standards and close gaps. Pittman has chaired the successful Closing the Gap conference conducted by the Department of Public Instruction for the last 4 years.

For additional information, contact Marvin Pittman at 919.807.3433.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.