David Harris

Education – The Mind Trust (Indianapolis)

Big Idea:
America’s schools continue to fail tens of thousands of students each year. It would be easy to believe urban education simply doesn’t work. The problem is, we’ve been looking for states and the federal government to solve the problem when, in reality, if change is going to happen in education, it must be driven and scaled up in local communities. A handful of cities across the country are proving change in education can happen – and showing us how to do it. Drawing from lessons in Indianapolis, David Harris explains what we’ve been doing wrong and what we need to do to get it right.

About David:
David Harris is an education reform leader and nonprofit founder driven by the conviction that every student, regardless of circumstances, deserves the opportunity to receive an excellent education. Harris believes that America’s entrenched education system can most effectively be improved by empowering education innovators and social entrepreneurs to develop bold solutions for transforming their communities’ K-12 systems and schools. He has devoted his career to putting that vision into action in his hometown of Indianapolis.

For the last 15 years, Harris has worked to reshape Indianapolis’ K-12 system by growing the number of high-quality, autonomous schools, making Indianapolis a destination for top talent, and creating the landscape for education reform to thrive. Through this work, he built the Indianapolis Mayor’s Charter School Office, which became known as an award-winning blueprint for best-in-class charter-school authorization, and launched The Mind Trust, which has become a national model for city-based education change. Several cities, including Nashville, Cincinnati, Kansas City and more, have used The Mind Trust as a template for their own reform efforts. Harris also helped launch what is now Education Cities, a national organization that helps communities develop and execute comprehensive strategies for dramatically improving their public schools.

Harris is frequently sought-after as a speaker and commentator on issues of national import in K-12 education, including school governance reform, charter schools, and education innovation and social entrepreneurship. His efforts have been cited in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, U.S News & World Report, Education Week, The Chicago Tribune, The Indianapolis Star, and Indianapolis Business Journal, and in books, including The Power of Social Innovation by former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, Education Unbound by education policy scholar Fredrick M. Hess, and more.