News About State Education Chiefs: One Elevation, One Nosedive

By Andrew Ujifusa — September 27, 2013 2 min read
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State education bosses made headlines this week, starting in Mississippi, where the state board appointed former District of Columbia and Maryland schools administrator and education consultant Carey Wright to the state’s top post, after going for more than a year without a permanent superintendent. Here are two more pieces of news regarding K-12 bosses.

• On Sept. 27, the Oregon Education Investment Board hired Nancy Golden to be the state’s chief education officer (CEO), the top education official in the state. Golden, who used to be a superintendent in the state’s Springfield district, will take over for Rudy Crew, who left the position after roughly a year and on less-than-glowing terms. She had been serving on an interim basis as Crew’s replacement, but assumes the full-time job with plaudits from Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat who has relied on Golden as an education advisor. She’s also run the University of Oregon’s education school.

Upon Golden’s appointment, Kitzhaber told reporter Betsy Hammond at The Oregonian that, “The work is in good hands.” The Oregon PTA reacted positively to the news, and Betsy Miller-Jones, the executive director of the Oregon School Boards Association, said of Golden in a statement, “She is just what this state needs for the goals and challenges we expect to face together over the next decade: an energetic, bright and caring education leader with a proven Oregon track record.”

The state is well over a year into a major K-12 education overhaul that has included district-level compacts to reach certain statistical education goals, including one that 80 percent of high school graduates earn college degrees by 2025. Overseeing that work will be a major part of Golden’s job.

• And in case you think state education honchos aren’t prepared to rise to great heights (and subsequently sink extremely rapidly to low depths) for their goals for education, Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist is apparently prepared on Sept. 28 to literally jump out of a plane, in the form of a skydive, to promote literacy and celebrate one specific school’s reading achievement.

Gist is skydiving to celebrate Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy, a public school, for having the highest percentage of students out of any school in the state meet a set of summer reading goals, which included reading 1,000 books over the summer between the students at the school, as well as writing reflections about the works they’ve read. The public-relations campaign for these goals was dubbed the “Dive into a Book!” reading challenge. The news inspired Master Sergeant Jackie Hazley, the aunt of two Blackstone students, to shoot a video celebrating the event.

If there’s any subsequent video of Gist actually hurtling to the ground at high speeds, State EdWatch will try to get ahold of it. The only question is whether she’ll be watching certain movies starring Wesley Snipes and Keanu Reeves before her jump (to our knowledge, unlike Reeves in Point Break, Gist is not “an FBI agent.”).

I Am An FBI Agent

UPDATED: As promised, below is the video of Gist dropping to earth, courtesy of NBC 10 in Rhode Island:

News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

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