Ex-schools chief Hornbeck to lead youth foundation


David W. Hornbeck, an educational reformer who served as Maryland's superintendent of schools from 1976 to 1988, will return to the state as the new president and chief executive officer of the International Youth Foundation, the Baltimore-based group's board of directors announced yesterday.

Hornbeck, 61, also was superintendent of Philadelphia schools, a job he left in 2000 after six years. He later founded Good Schools Pennsylvania, a nonprofit initiative to improve public education in that state, and is chairman of the board of the nonprofit Children's Defense Fund.

Hornbeck will succeed Rick Little, who founded IYF in 1990 after a debilitating accident in his teen-age years led him to believe there weren't enough practical programs to help young people make basic decisions. Little, who is starting a new nonprofit organization to advocate on behalf of youths around the world, will remain on IYF's board of directors.

Today, IYF runs programs with partners in nearly 50 countries, ranging from an initiative to chronicle the problems of young factory workers in Thailand to technology workshops for teen-agers in the Middle East. Its annual grants and program investments total nearly $125 million.

"David is one of those rare individuals who combines both the head and the heart," Little said of his successor yesterday. "A guy like David can come in, working with our team and with this more mature organization, and help to propel us to another level."

During his tenure at the helm of Maryland schools, Hornbeck lobbied for preschool programs and called for schools to take greater accountability for the performance of underprivileged students.

He began Maryland's first statewide, standardized testing program and asked counterparts across the country to push for laws guaranteeing public school students a quality education, with the right to change schools or sue if they didn't get one.

In Philadelphia, he struck many of the same themes but resigned in 2000 after a long-running dispute with state legislators over what he described as inequitable funding between suburban and city schools.

Hornbeck said yesterday that he hopes to extend IYF's reach in the world, further developing educational opportunities in workplaces and health clinics for youths. As war rages in Iraq, he said, programs that inspire hope are more important than ever.

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