People / Staff

Curtis Valentine

Curtis Valentine is Deputy Director of the Progressive Policy Institute's Reinventing America's Schools Project. Curtis comes to this position with over 15 years experience in local, state, federal, and international education policy. Curtis currently serves as Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park and as At-Large member of the Prince George’s County (MD) Board of Education. Prior to joining the Progressive Policy Institute, Curtis served as Consultant to the National Council on Teacher Quality. In the past, Curtis served as Executive Director for State Relations with Connections Education, a virtual K-12 public school provider, where he directed state level education policy in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Virginia. Prior to joining Connections Education, Curtis was International Affairs Fellow (IAF) with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Curtis was the first IAF posted to the Education Department where he served in Secretary Arne Duncan’s Office of International Affairs. As a fellow, Curtis promoted American economic competitiveness by examining the education reform efforts of four developed countries (Finland, Poland, Canada, and South Africa). Curtis is a graduate of Morehouse College and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. At Harvard Kennedy School’s Commencement, Curtis received the highest student honor: the Robert F. Kennedy award for excellence in public service for his work in post-Katrina New Orleans. After graduating from Morehouse College, Curtis joined the Peace Corps and traveled to South Africa where he led a professional development-training program for primary school educators. After two years, Curtis returned to the Maryland and became an 8th grade Language Arts Teacher. A former appointee to the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board in Maryland, Curtis is a Contributor to the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, the National Council on Teacher Quality Blog, and the Council on Foreign Relation’s Renewing America blog. Curtis is married to Dr. Daria Valentine, a Middle School Principal, and father to Curtis and Ivy Valentine, both public school students.



By / 4.3.2020

The $2.2 trillion Corona Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities (CARES) Act appropriated $30.75 billion for education—almost half of which will flow to “Local Education Agencies.” These LEAs include both school districts and many charter schools or networks. But charter laws differ from state to state, and many charter schools authorized by school districts do not […]


By / 3.26.2020

For parents struggling with the uncertainty of employment while also dealing with a global pandemic, paying for an internet connection may be the last thing on their minds. But with the closure of nearly every public and private school in America, many school systems are relying on the internet to make sure their students can […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 12.16.2019

“We will retain 85 percent of our effective teachers and remove 100 percent of my ineffective teachers.” Those words from Earl Martin Phalen, founder of the George and Veronica Phalen Leadership Academy (PLA) in Indianapolis, represent more than a strategic goal. They are PLA’s foundational priority: the quality of its teachers will be the driver […]


By / 7.30.2019

Lakisha Young is no stranger to education reform. A former Teach For America corps member and founding member of a KIPP Charter School, Young knows the power parents can wield when they demand educational options for their children. The daughter of a single mother who enrolled her in a traditional public school, a Catholic school, […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 6.17.2019

The African American community’s fight for quality education is a 12-months-a-year struggle, and every month — not just Black History Month — is a great time to reflect on what’s working and who is successful in fighting for quality public education in our community. Donald Hense and the Friendship Charter Network are worthy of recognition. […]


By / 2.21.2019

On any given day, you can find Sarah Carpenter organizing parents in the Memphis area. A single mother of four daughters and 13 grandchildren, Carpenter was an advocate long before becoming co-founder and CEO of The Memphis Lift, which she describes as “a parent organization run by parents, for parents.” Born and raised in North […]