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 Q&A with John Chubb

Interviews with John Chubb

​Prior to taking his post as NAIS president on July 1, 2013, John Chubb will provide responses to member questions and share more information about his viewpoints and experiences. 
Carlos Barroso, director of marketing and communications at St. Andrew's School (Florida), spoke with John Chubb.

Reveta Bowers, head of school at the Center for Early Education (California), spoke with John Chubb, the incoming president of NAIS, about a number of topics related to independent schools. 

What is your background in education and your experience with independent schools?

I'm the first person in my family to attend college--so I understand very deeply the value of education. I was a strong student, and always loved school. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, I went immediately to grad school at the University of Minnesota, earned a Ph.D. in political science, and had the good fortune to land my first job as an assistant professor at Stanford University when I was 24.
I loved teaching--still do. And I loved research and writing. But, I'm a practical person by nature and wanted to try and make a difference in the real world. At Stanford, I started my education research career with a study of public and private schools, working with scholars from around the country. The Brookings Institution, a liberal think tank, was interested in this work, and offered me a senior fellow post, which I took when I was 30. Brookings enabled me to get involved with policymakers in Washington and a number of states, launch the first charter school laws, and also get to know the independent school world; my research had been very complimentary of private schools. I did quite a bit of work for NAIS in the early 1990s. I did some head training. I was featured speaker at the 1992 NAIS annual meeting in San Francisco. I got to know lots of schools and heads in the DC area, too.
Shortly thereafter, I helped launch Edison. I chose to join Edison because I wanted to involve myself directly with schools and their improvement. I wanted to do the work, not just write about it. And that is what I got to do for 15 years as chief education officer. I spent three days a week in schools all over the country, mostly high poverty schools. I worked side by side with principals, helping and brainstorming with them about their challenges with students, teachers, families, boards. I worked with probably 200 principals individually in my time. Some of these leaders are the most amazing people I have known in my life. I also worked with thousands of teachers, in thousands of classrooms. I know their dedication and I know their pain. I also know the special joy that comes from seeing kids succeed when all goes well. I stayed at Edison a very long time because, particularly for the neediest students, we were helping to change lives. That is ultimately what drives me. For 15 years, I had the very good fortune to spend my days with teachers and principals who, as the saying goes, were doing God's work. It was an unbelievable honor.
My wife and I have six kids. My wife, by the way, is a lifetime educator, too. She has been an elementary teacher, middle school assistant principal, and founding principal of a remarkable K-12 1,200 student charter school in suburban Philadelphia. Our kids range in age from 19 (twins) to 31. My wife and I appreciate how much the right school can mean for a child's success. Our kids attended independent, charter, public, and Catholic schools, based on the needs of each kid. We're blessed with good kids; they would not be the same without the wonderful school experiences they each had.
I look forward to meeting more members of the independent school community, finding out what’s on your mind, and representing you as we tackle NAIS’s exciting future together.
-- John Chubb, January 23, 2013

Do you have a comment or question? The NAIS board and staff want to hear from you. Please send a note to or use the Twitter hashtag #naispres. We may not be able to address every question right away, but we want to hear what’s on your mind.
Article Date: 2/1/2013

​​We invite you to send questions and comments to, or use the hashtag #naispres on Twitter. To reach John Chubb directly, please email


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