Oregon State Superintendent Resigns After Less Than Three Years

By Daarel Burnette II — October 12, 2017 1 min read
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Amid stagnant state test scores, one of the lowest graduation rates in the country, and an increasingly hostile political climate, Salaam Noor, Oregon’s state education chief, resigned Wednesday.

Noor, who is appointed by the governor, didn’t provide a reason for the abrupt resignation, and it came as U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos toured the state. Noor was hired a little more than two years ago and was paid $185,508, according to an Education Week analysis of state superintendent salaries.

Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, appointed Colt Gill to serve in the interim position until she finds a replacement.

“Governor Brown asked Salam Noor to resign because she was not satisfied with his ability to execute her vision for Oregon’s education system,” the governor’s spokesman, Chris Pair, said in an email to the Associated Press.

The average tenure of state chiefs has rapidly declined in recent years, alarming policymakers and practitioners as state departments take on even more responsibilities under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The average state chief lasts in the job for around two years.

More than half the nation’s state chiefs were less than a year into the job when ESSA was enacted in 2015, and during the new law’s sometimes-politically combative stakeholder-engagement process another four state chiefs resigned.

Oregon’s ESSA plan was approved by DeVos in August and the U.S. Department of Education will be tasked in the coming months with training district leadership in how to use a new accountability system, collecting more data, and designing a new report card to display that data.

Chris Minnich, the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers said in a statement, “Salam Noor is a thoughtful leader who strived to engage all stakeholders in the work to improve Oregon’s education system to better meet the needs of all students. We will miss his leadership at the state and national levels.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.