U of A Alumnus Appointed to Illinois State Board of Education
December 12, 2016
Collin Hitt, a 2016 graduate of the University of Arkansas, was recently appointed by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to a two-year term on the State Board of Education.
Hitt is an assistant professor at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. His U of A doctorate is in education policy, and he received a bachelor's degree in philosophy and political science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Before coming to Arkansas, Hitt worked six years with the Illinois Policy Institute and taught briefly in rural France. He also served as a member of the board of directors of Springfield Ball Charter School in Illinois.
The governor's office was familiar with Hitt's past work in kindergarten through 12th grade education.
"The opportunity came as a surprise and an honor," he said. "I am passionate about education policy, and the Illinois State Board of Education oversees all K through 12 schools in Illinois."
The staff at the state board oversee dozens of programs, distribute billions of dollars annually to Illinois schools and enforce state and federal regulations, Hitt explained. They collect data and evaluate the effectiveness of programs, and they make recommendations on K-12 policy to the state legislature.
"The role of a board member is to ensure that staff have the leadership and support to carry out their work with the highest integrity," he said.
"I have been involved in education reform in Illinois for my entire career," Hitt said. "School choice is one topic I focused on intensely."
Hitt served on a state charter school task force, whose recommendations became law. In 2009, he worked with James Meeks, now the chairman of the state board of education, to propose a pilot program to give private school choice to students in inner-city Chicago.
"School finance is another area I have studied closely, especially in the unique context of Illinois," Hitt said. "State finances are complicated in Illinois right now. I expect my background in this area to be especially useful."
At Southern Illinois University, he studies vocational education and professional development in the health-care professions. Hitt is continuing to pursue projects in K-12 education, too, including two meta-analyses on the impact of school choice programs.
He also continues to serve as a research fellow at Charassein: The Character Assessment Initiative, a research lab he co-founded with colleagues at the U of A.
"The development of character skills is important to education policy at every level, from preschool through medical school," Hitt said.