Governor Brown cracks the whip on her education cabinet – Portland Tribune


TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Governor Kate Brown at her inaugural address in January. The day Governor Kate Brown forced out the head of the Oregon Department of Education, she sent a letter to the five state education leaders calling for an aggressive campaign to improve state schools.

The Oct. 11 letter is addressed to Acting Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Colt Gill, who replaced Salam Noor when the governor accepted his resignation that same day. The letter is also addressed to Acting Executive Director of the Teaching Standards and Practices Commission Elizabeth Keller. Keller is currently listed on the TSPC website as the licensing agency’s director of licensure, but it appears she replaced Monica Beane who is still listed as executive director. No news reports mentioned the change and a call to TSPC was not immediately returned Friday; neither was a call to Brown’s office.

The sudden changes in leadership may have gone underreported as the state released a massive amount of school performance data during that week.

The letter is addressed to what Brown calls her Education Cabinet: Gill and Keller, as well as Chief Education Officer Lindsey Capps, whose office focuses on improving graduation rates, Early Learning Systems Director Miriam Calderon, whose office builds pre-school programs, and Ben Cannon, who heads the state’s higher education coordinating body.

Brown gives a deadline of the beginning of the 2018 legislative session — which this year begins on Feb. 5 — to come up with a plan to aggressively improve graduation rates, work together on a unified education budget for 2019-21, create a new statewide plan for birth to five services, and improve the educational pathways to careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

“My vision for the state’s education system is to support Oregonians from all walks of life and abilities to achieve the education they need in their individual journeys from cradle to career,” Brown wrote.

She stressed two “guiding principals.” The first, good stewardship of public dollars through data-driven programs, and the second, to employ an “equity lens” for improving state education outcomes among nonwhite students.

Across many measures of academic achievement, students with African-American, Hispanic or Latino, Native American or Pacific Islander heritage are struggling. Brown calls for aggressively improving their graduation rates until 90 percent of all student groups are graduating on time by 2025.

In 2012, during another tumultuous period in Oregon’s education leadership, the governor became the state’s head of education with the dual title of superintendent of public instruction.

Shasta Kearns Moore
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