Ensuring the Equitable Distribution of Effective Teachers

Ensuring the Equitable Distribution of Effective Teachers
Ensuring the Equitable Distribution of Effective Teachers


CHSE Logo[2]The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF)
and the Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE) hosted a day-long discussion group in Washington, DC entitled “Ensuring the Equitable Distribution of Effective Teachers.” This opportunity for learning and dialogue included a small group of national education and youth-serving organizations representing the broad range of actors in the civil rights and education policy communities to explore challenges and strategies to promote equitable distribution of effective teachers.

The meeting focused on policies and practices that are addressing the equitable distribution of effective teachers, to ensure that students in schools with the highest need are supported in their educational journey to postsecondary success and civic engagement. During the meeting, participants discussed the challenges and opportunities in ensuring all students have access to highly effective teachers. Presentations highlighted some of the efforts states and districts are undertaking to ensure an equitable distribution of effective teachers and the day concluded with a group discussion of the role federal policy can play in supporting equitable distribution efforts. Discussants included the Hon. Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary, Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education; Sonja Santelises, Vice President for K-12 Policy and Practice, Education Trust; Anne Marie Fenton, Program Director, Assessment, Georgia Professional Standards Commission; Julie Severns, Assistant Superintendent Fresno Unified School District, and Ann Clark, Chief Academic Officer, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Presenters Included:

Ann Clark, Deputy Superintendent, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Anne Marie Fenton, Program Director, Assessment, Georgia Professional Standards Commission

The Honorable Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education

Sonja Santelises, Vice President, K-12 Policy and Practice, The Education Trust

Julie Severns, Assistant Superintendent, Fresno Unified School District

Presenter Biographies

Photo_Clark formattedAnn Blakeney Clark brings a quarter-century of experience in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to her role as deputy superintendent. Clark has held a variety of teaching and administrative positions in CMS since joining the district in 1983 as a teacher of behaviorally and emotionally handicapped children. Clark’s extensive education background includes serving as principal at elementary, middle and high schools. She most recently served as the chief academic officer, overseeing the district’s curriculum, professional development, classroom instruction and zones. She graduated from Davidson College with a B.A. in English and earned a master’s degree in special education from the University of Virginia. She also holds administrator and curriculum and supervision certification from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In addition to her work with CMS, Clark serves on multiple community boards, including Communities in Schools, Children’s Theatre, the Davidson College Board of Visitors and Levine Museum of the New South.

Her achievements in education and the community have been widely recognized. She has been named a Broad Superintendent Fellow, Charlotte Women of the Year, the Thomas Jefferson Distinguished Alumnae Award from University of Virginia, National Principal of the Year (1994) and William Friday Fellow and Council for Great City Schools Outstanding Urban Educator Award winner.

Fenton formattedAnne Marie Fenton directs the Assessment Program for the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC), which includes managing the Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE) educator certification testing program, Title II, Part A (NCLB/ESEA), and Title II/Higher Education Act Reauthorization (HEOA). She also manages the rule making process for the Commission. Previously at the GaPSC, she served as an education specialist in educator preparation program approval. Prior to joining the GaPSC six years ago, Anne Marie held several positions in Kennesaw State University’s Bagwell College of Education across nine years, serving most recently as Associate Director of the Center for Service, Outreach, and Partnerships. A former classroom teacher, she has many years of corporate experience with MCI Telecommunications. Anne Marie serves on the Executive Board of the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) as the Southern Regional Director, and she is a member of the edTPA Policy Advisory Board. She holds her B.S. from Kennesaw State University, her M.Ed. from the State University of West Georgia, and her Ed.S. from Georgia State University.

Photo_Lhamon formattedCatherine E. Lhamon is the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. Ms. Lhamon’s 17-year track record of success has earned her repeat accolades as one of California’s top women lawyers, and as a lawyer of the year for civil rights. She was also named one of California’s Top 20 Lawyers Under 40 in 2007. Immediately prior to coming to the Department of Education, Ms. Lhamon was the Director of Impact Litigation at Public Counsel, which is the nation’s largest pro bono law firm. Before coming to Public Counsel, Ms. Lhamon practiced for a decade at the ACLU of Southern California, ultimately as Assistant Legal Director. Before then, Ms. Lhamon was a teaching fellow and supervising attorney in the Appellate Litigation Program at Georgetown University Law Center after clerking for The Honorable William A. Norris on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She received her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was The Outstanding Woman Law Graduate, and graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College.

Photo_Santelises formattedSonja Santelises is the Vice President of K-12 Policy and Practice at The Education Trust. She  provides strategic direction for the organization’s K-12 research, practice, and policy work, which includes developing and implementing strategies to ensure that the Ed Trust’s K-12 efforts effectively focus national attention on inequities in public education and the actions necessary to close gaps in both opportunity and achievement.  Before joining The Education Trust, Sonja was the Chief academic officer for Baltimore City Public Schools, where she focused on setting academic priorities for City Schools to raise achievement of students across all schools. Sonja came to City Schools from Boston, where she was the assistant superintendent for pilot schools, a network of 23 schools with broad autonomy and a track record of successfully meeting students’ needs and improving the achievement of low-income students and students of color in particular. Prior to the pilot schools post, Sonja was assistant superintendent for teaching and learning/professional development in Boston. Before joining Boston Public Schools, Sonja lectured on urban education for two years at Harvard University and spent six years as a senior associate with Focus on Results Inc., where she worked with five major urban districts, coaching superintendents and training school leaders. Prior to that, Sonja served as executive director of the New York City Algebra Project, the local site of the acclaimed national math reform program, also present in City Schools. Sonja began her career in education as director of professional development and teacher placement with Teach for America, New York, followed by stint at a year-round school in Brooklyn where she was a founder, teacher, and curriculum specialist. She holds a bachelor of arts degree from Brown University, a master of arts in education administration from Columbia University, and a doctor of education in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard.  She currently resides in Baltimore with her husband and three daughters.

severns formattedJulie Severns, Ed.D is the Assistant Superintendent of Professional Learning in Fresno Unified School District.  She graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a degree in Psychology and later earned a Master’s Degree in Education from Fresno Pacific University and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Alliant International University.  She has been in Fresno Unified for twenty eight years as a teacher, vice principal, principal, and central office administrator.  Her current responsibilities include the oversight of the development of a support continuum for aspiring, new, and existing teachers, leaders, and classified employees in partnership with Institutions of Higher Education.  Julie and her husband Dave have three children, Darcey, Jordan, and Hailey.





Click here to view the event overview

Click here to view the discussion group brief

Presenter Information

Ann Clark

Deputy Superintendent

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

P. O. Box 30035

Charlotte, NC 28230


Anne Marie Fenton

Program Director, Assessment

Georgia Professional Standards Commission

200 Piedmont Avenue, Suite 1702

Atlanta, GA 30334-9032


The Honorable Catherine Lhamon

Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

U.S. Department of Education


Sonja Santelises

Vice President, K-12 Policy and Practice

The Education Trust

1250 H Street, Suite 700

Washington, DC 20005


Julie Severns, Ed.D

Assistant Superintendent of Professional Learning

Fresno Unified School District

2309 Tulare Street

Fresno, California 93721







The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.