Midland Superintendent Orlando Riddick’s recent induction into a national education reform network further confirms his commitment to bringing meaningful change to the Tall City’s school district.

In a press release Wednesday, Chiefs for Change announced that Riddick and two other educators “joined the bipartisan network of state and district education leaders.” The organization currently has 35 members, or “chiefs,” from across the country.

Orlando Riddick

Chiefs for Change was founded by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and formerly operated under his Foundation for Excellence in Education to help advance education reform in the U.S. In 2015, they split from the foundation and became an independent 501(C)(3) that is currently led by former professor and co-founder of Rhode Island Mayoral Academies, Michael Magee.

Despite being founded by a former Republican presidential candidate and governor, the organization emphasizes the need for bipartisanship in advancing meaningful education policy, which includes expansion of school choice opportunities for low-income students.

Chiefs for Change Board Chair and Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White wrote in Wednesday’s press release:

“These chiefs reflect the regional and political diversity of our network … They lead systems that in many ways look very different — in red, blue, and purple states — and yet they are all doing the work that can help every child succeed. In this day and age of extreme political polarization, Chiefs for Change is a rare example of leaders who have come together around a common set of beliefs and who always remain focused on what is most important — the education of our children.”

According to their website, the organization and its members advocate for policies that “expand school choice initiatives, establish strong accountability systems, promote the use of high-quality instructional materials, and create pathways that ensure students graduate ready for college and meaningful careers.”

Many reform-centered policies like those mentioned above have begun to take root in Midland since Riddick took the helm of the Midland Independent School District in August of 2017. Riddick has overseen the beginning stages of a major overhaul in Midland ISD’s management structure — from a “Managed Instruction theory of action” to one of “Earned Autonomy”— with the ultimate goal of implementing a “System of Great Schools” by 2027.

Midland ISD’s website describes the new System of Great Schools strategy as one that removes the emphasis on top-heavy management structure and gives more authority and focus to the individual school and the individual students’ needs. It also “works at the community, district, and school level to reorient our efforts with schools at the center, not the district or system.”

Riddick has also worked to expand educational options for students by exploring in-district charter school partnerships, with IDEA Public Schools planning to open in the area in 2021, according to their website.

“Throughout my career, I have closely followed the work of Chiefs for Change members,” Riddick stated. “They are all doing impressive work that superintendents across the country can learn from. I am proud to join their community and am excited to share the important progress students and teachers are making in Midland.”

Riddick is one of three Texas educators in the Chiefs for Change network, Scott Muri of Spring Branch Independent School District and Pedro Martinez of San Antonio Independent School District being the other two.

Lauren Melear

Lauren Melear leads the West Texas Bureau of Texas Scorecard. When not working, Lauren enjoys spending time with her husband and their dog, as well as cooking, working out, traveling to the hill country, and cheering on the fightin' Texas Aggies.