State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury Hires a Chief of Staff

    State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury appointed a chief of staff, Ary Amerikaner, to the Maryland State Department of Education in a closed board meeting this week. 

    For four years, Amerikaner has been vice president for policy, practice and research for The Education Trust, a national advocacy group focused on low-income students and students of color. 

    In a New York Times opinion piece last year, she highlighted the lack of clear data on how school district spending breaks down across local schools, which is critical to understanding possible unfair distributions of resources within school districts.

    Before joining The Education Trust, Amerikaner worked in the Obama administration as deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education, where she helped craft spending rules for the Every Student Succeeds Act, which gave local officials more authority to define what it means for a school to be successful and how to intervene when it does not meet expectations. 

    She was also a member of the Department of Education Agency Review Team responsible for understanding operations of the Department of Education and preparing for the Biden administration to take over. 

    “Having researched, implemented, and advocated for effective, equitable education policy throughout my career, it is an honor to be part of the team that will implement the landmark Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, and help build a new lasting legacy of student success,” Amerikaner said in a statement. 

    A chief of staff is “instrumental in the coordination of the various offices and divisions within MSDE (as well as partnering agencies) to ensure consistency and responsiveness in leveraging full MSDE support to local school systems,” said Lora Rakowski, spokeswoman for MSDE.

    Amerikaner will manage MSDE’s forthcoming strategic plan and core Blueprint for Maryland’s Future initiatives, Rakowski continued.

    The Board of Education approved the placement of Amerikaner to fill a vacancy, as there have been chief of staff positions under previous superintendents, according to Rakowski. However, it was unclear Tuesday whether former state superintendent Karen B. Salmon had a chief of staff and why there was a vacancy.

    Choudhury said in a statement that Amerikaner will help implement the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a sweeping decade-long education reform effort that begins this year.

    “Her expertise in policy and equity will be essential to MSDE’s efforts as we build on the excellent foundation in place, emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and grow the team needed to implement the once-in-a-generation Blueprint for Maryland’s Future,” Choudhury said. “A true champion of education excellence, Ms. Amerikaner brings a wealth of research and implementation experience that we are fortunate to have working for Maryland children.”

    Amerikaner will join MSDE on September 20. 

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    Elizabeth Shwe
    Shwe covered California state politics during her internship at The Sacramento Bee. She is a 2020 graduate of Princeton University with a degree in political science. At Princeton she was a producer for WPRB 103.3 FM News & Culture section, the station’s only long form podcast-type program. Shwe also wrote for The Daily Princetonian, and tutored with the Petey Greene Program, which offers free tutoring to incarcerated people. Shwe is a Report for America corps member.