Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Branstad names Glass to head Iowa education agency

Posted: 12/29/2010 12:22:53 PM MSTUpdated: 12/29/2010 04:30:30 PM MST

Statement on the appointment of the new Director of the Iowa Department of Education Chris Bern President of the Iowa State Education Association

On behalf of the members of the Iowa State Education Association, we hope that Governor Branstad will continue recent, bipartisan efforts to move teachers’ salaries to 25th in the nation and continue to work with us in helping make quality public education a top priority for all of Iowa’s schools and community colleges. We also hope that Governor Branstad and Jason Glass will carry on Iowa’s commitment to excellence in our public schools by ensuring sufficient basic funding over the next four years. We look forward to working with Governor-elect Branstad and Jason Glass.

URBANDALE, Iowa—Gov.-elect Terry Branstad announced Wednesday that an Ohio education consultant will be the next director of the Iowa Department of Education.

Jason Glass, 39, was introduced by Branstad at the incoming Republican governor's campaign office.

The Des Moines Register reported that Glass is the senior director for human capital strategy at Battelle for Kids, a Columbus, Ohio, organization that works with school leaders to bolster education.

"I believe that with Jason Glass, we've got a reformer, an innovator, but somebody who's also been a consensus-builder," Branstad said. "What I really like is his focus on achievement for students, and that's where we've seen a slip in recent years. We want to restore Iowa back to being preeminent in student achievement."

Glass will be paid $140,000 a year. His appointment must be approved by the Senate. He will succeed Kevin Fangman, who has been interim director since Judy Jeffrey retired in May.

Glass grew up in Kentucky and is a former social studies teacher. He has also worked as a school district human resources director and as a student achievement consultant for the Colorado Department of Education.

Most recently, Glass has worked as a consultant helping Tennessee education leaders carry out a reform plan that was awarded millions of dollars through the federal Race to the Top competition, President Obama's signature school reform effort.

Glass also specializes in teacher preparation and merit pay.

He said it was just five months ago that he moved to Columbus, Ohio, to take the Battelle job. But he said he feels fortunate to be named education director in Iowa, a state he views as one that has made education a priority.

He praised Iowa's teachers for their service, but indicated that changes will be made.

"While Iowa's schools have always been a source of pride and a catalyst to the state's economic prosperity, it's always important to remember, if you're not getting better, you're getting worse," Glass said. "It's not just the rest of the nation that Iowa's kids have to compete with now. It's the rest of the world."

Glass comes to Iowa at a time when test scores are stagnant, school leaders face more state spending cuts and declining enrollment, and spurt of school mergers are coming. Educators also face an achievement gap between white students from middle-class families and minority students and children from low-income families.

Glass said he will push for more school improvements and innovation.

He wants to enhance technology in schools. He also supports charter schools, which receive taxpayer money like traditional public schools but are free to bend rules when it comes to innovation.

Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said he doesn't see any problems with Glass, whom he said "has a decent background in education, so we look forward to getting to know him and hearing his perspective."

The position was filled through a confidential national search. A list of candidates was not made public.

Glass faces a politically challenging task as both parties spar over Branstad's call to end a universal preschool program created by Gov. Chet Culver and Democratic lawmakers.

Republicans regained control of the House in last month's midterm election and Democrats still control the Senate.

Branstad said only needy families who can't afford private preschool should get taxpayer support, a position that Glass said he supports.

Read more: Branstad names Glass to head Iowa education agency - The Denver Post
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