Sandy Kress made a personal decision 25 years ago to transfer the energy and spirit he had devoted earlier in his life in the partisan political arena to the task of reforming public education. Sandy Kress has said, “It came to me way back then that if we get education right, our people will do fine in their lives. But if we don’t, there’s not much politics can do to make up for that failure.”
Sandy Kress was appointed in 1990 to chair a commission in Dallas to propose major reforms to improve the operations of the Dallas Public Schools. The school board adopted most of the reforms the Commission proposed, and Sandy Kress ran for and won a Board seat in 1992 to push for implementation of the reforms. He subsequently served as Vice President and President of the Board. By 1996, when Kress left the Board, the Dallas Public Schools had made unprecedented gains in student achievement as a result of these reforms.
Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock noted the progress in Dallas and appointed Sandy Kress to the State Education and Economic Policy Committee. There Kress chaired the subcommittee that designed the education accountability system that the Legislature subsequently implemented in 1993. This accountability system was one of the first of its kind in the nation and led to significant student gains in Texas over the years that followed.
Governor George W. Bush appointed Kress to the Education Commission of the States where he began to push these reforms nationally.
Kress became Senior Adviser on Education in the White House when George W. Bush became President of the United States. He spearheaded the development of policy within the Administration and helped lead negotiations with the Congress over legislation that became the No Child Left Behind Act.
Subsequently, upon his return to Texas, Sandy Kress was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to Chair the Commission for a College Ready Texas and serve on his Competitiveness Council. In both roles, Kress pushed policies designed to help prepare more young Texans for postsecondary success, thereby improving their prospects in life as well as strengthening the overall economy in the state.
Kress has served as a Fellow at both the Bush Institute in Dallas and the Hunt Institute in North Carolina, where he has worked on major national education reform initiatives.
In addition, Kress has served in numerous capacities nationally, including reading, writing, and speaking on behalf of education reform and serving over most of the past decade on the committee that nominates finalists for the Broad Prize for best urban school district.
Sandy Kress has said: “We’ve spent almost 25 years in productive work that has helped raise student achievement and begun to close the pernicious achievement gap. We have made significant progress in student achievement, especially for disadvantaged students, as a result of these policies. We need to resist calls to return to the policies of yesteryear. We could very easily stall or actually lose ground. That would be a tragedy.”
Sandy Kress is now turning most of his time, energy, and spirit to the study and teaching of sacred texts and other religious topics. This engagement began with a major endeavor to teach the entire Torah cycle with an adult Bible study class at the Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. Posts here include the handouts at each of the classes during the year. All materials, including the lesson plans for, and audios of, the classes can be found at The Third Well under Hebrew Bible Studies.
More recently, Kress has expanded his teaching to other churches, synagogues, as well as neighborhood group and University settings. He teaches weekly on a wide range of matters, involving the various books of the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, ancient wisdom sayings, and a variety of theological and ethical topics.
Sandy Kress has begun a podcast called A Shared Word on religious matters with his good friend, Mark Charbonneau, pastor at The Vine, in Austin, Texas.
Also, the posts here include blogs on each Haftarah portion from the Prophets and, more recently, blogs on favorite proverbs.