Charles Butt, chairman and CEO of supermarket chain H-E-B, has pledged $100 million to create a leadership institute dedicated to supporting and training public school leaders in Texas, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
To be based in Austin and named in honor of Butt's late mother, educator and philanthropist Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt, the Holdsworth Center will work to support current education leaders and develop future superintendents and principals in the state's twelve hundred traditional public school districts. To that end, the center will work with districts over five years, drawing on best practices from experts and providing training focused on identifying and tackling barriers to leadership development at the district level. Programs will be divided into those for current superintendents and key cabinet members; principals, assistant principals, and lead teachers; and district support staff. Although application for the inaugural class of six districts, to be announced by March, will be by invitation only, the process will be open to all districts in future years.
The center will be governed by a seventeen-member board chaired by Ruth Simmons, who served as president of Smith College from 1995 to 2001 and as president of Brown University from 2001 to 2012. "Whatever the problems may be in public schools, we know leadership is critical in improving our public schools. There is no way around that," said Simmons. "The quickest, most efficient way to transform schools is to make sure you have the right leadership in place with the right vision."
Butt noted that Texas, which educates about 10 percent of all students in the nation, was an obvious place to launch the center. "With our size comes a tremendous responsibility to provide the highest-quality education to all students," he said. "The Holdsworth Center will help to ensure we have inspired and enlightened leaders at every level within the education system making daily decisions that positively impact the future of our students and the state."