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Mehta Named Commissioner of NCTAF

Associate Professor Jal Mehta was named commissioner of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future with South Carolina State Superintendent Molly Spearman.

The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) is pleased to announce that South Carolina State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman and Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) Associate Professor Jal Mehta are joining the organization as commissioners.

“We are so delighted to include in the work of the Commission the depth of knowledge and expertise from these two education leaders,” said the Honorable Richard W. Riley, co-chair of NCTAF and former U.S. Secretary of Education. “Both Molly and Jal understand the critical role of teachers, as well as the types of supportive systems that must be in place to ensure success for students and teachers,” he added.

In January 2015, Spearman was officially sworn into office as the 18th South Carolina State Superintendent of Education. For more than 18 years, she served as a classroom music teacher and an assistant principal. She used her in-school experiences to advocate for students in several roles in South Carolina, including being elected to four terms as a state legislator, six years as Deputy Superintendent and, from 2004-2014, executive director of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators. As State Superintendent, Spearman’s vision is that every student is prepared for success after graduation. To accomplish this task, she remains focused on ensuring that every school has strong principals who support effective teaching and personalized learning for every student.

At HGSE, Mehta’s primary research focus is understanding what it would take to create high-quality schooling at scale, as well as the professionalization of teaching. Earlier this month, Mehta and his HGSE colleagues released a new white paper entitled, “From Quicksand to Solid Ground: Building a Foundation to Support Quality Teaching Across the United States.” Instead of providing recommendations, the white paper poses policy challenges around critical questions, including teacher preparation, clinical preparation, and adult learning. NCTAF will be addressing some of those policy challenges in its 2016 report on great teaching.

“We feel that both Molly and Jal will bring new energy and new ideas to the Commission. Molly has been an outstanding leader in South Carolina, and she also is recognized nationally for making a difference in student learning across the state,” said Melinda George, president of NCTAF. “And we consider Jal a leading authority on addressing the challenges of making deeper learning possible for every child. We look forward to collaborating with them as we develop recommendations that support great teaching,” she added.

The National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future (NCTAF) was founded in 1994 as a bipartisan effort to engage education policymakers and practitioners to address the entrenched national challenge of recruiting, developing, and retaining great teachers in order to ensure that all students have access to quality teaching in schools organized for success. For 20 years, NCTAF has worked to drive and inform the national dialogue about the importance of great teaching, especially in hard-to-staff schools. NCTAF’s research and recommendations inform innovations and improvements in teaching quality nationwide, focus attention on the importance of equitable distribution and retention of teachers, and promote promising practices for the development of teachers’ skills and career pathways. For more information, visit