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Curtis Johnson is managing associate of Education Evolving, which designed the first charter-school law and initiated the movement for teachers to form groups to take charge of schools. He also is executive director of Citiscope, a recently launched global news service.
Starting out as a teacher, he served for 10 years as a community-college pesident and another decade as the head of a public-policy research organization. In the 1990s he was a policy adviser and chief of staff to a Minnesota governor, then was chairman of the Metropolitan Council, the regional government for the seven-county Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
He co-authored two books about American regions and in 2008 he and columnist Neal Peirce wrote "Century of the City," a book based on a global conference sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. He also is a co-author of the 2008 book "Disrupting Class," which explores radical changes in how students might learn.
Johnson received a B.A. in history from Baylor University and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas.
The education secretary once liked the idea of letting them run their schools. It's an idea that still shows a lot of promise.