Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Commissioner of Education of Rhode Island

This is the most interesting job opportunity I've come across in quite some time -- from my friend Angus Davis, who is a phenomenal agent for change in RI:
I serve on Rhode Island's state board of regents, and I co-chair our committee leading the search for our next state Commissioner of Education.  Also, I support Democrats for Education Reform and I am Director at the Center for Education Reform in DC.  When I'm not doing that stuff, I work at Tellme, an Internet company I founded that is now a subsidiary of Microsoft. 

Rhode Island is a district-sized challenge yet the Commissioner has state-level authority, wide latitude to intervene, and a clear mandate for CHANGE focused on reforming our core urban districts.  The governor, legislative leadership, and Board of Regents are "reform minded" and thirsty for new leadership.   The Commissioner has enormous potential to set education policy in a state where we can really make things happen given our manageable size.

Would you or someone you know be willing to entertain a 5-minute phone conversation with me about the opportunity to become Commissioner of Education in RI?  Even if you are not initially interested, would you be willing to recommend anyone or to share any words of wisdom?  See also
http://tinyurl.com/c4a9ot for a job description.  This is a HUGE opportunity for a visionary reformer!

Quick Facts on Rhode Island Education Reform:
  • 4th highest per-pupil spending of any state in country
  • manageable size - 150k students in 325 schools statewide -- about the size of san diego or dallas school district
  • Diverse -- largest district Providence is 59% Hispanic, 22% African American, 12% White, 5% Asian
  • broad supt. academy graduate newly appointed as supt. of our largest district, Providence
  • high rates of childhood poverty - RI #12 in US, Providence tied for #3 of all cities with pre-Katrina New Orleans
  • lowest rate of Hispanic achievement on NAEP of any state in country: yikes!
  • Approx. $1 billion annual education budget
  • 45 mins south of Boston, 3 hrs north of NYC; high quality of life; rich culture / community - great location
  • great institutions of higher ed -- Brown, RISD, URI, Providence College, 5 other colleges; potential oppty to be an adjunct professor of education policy?
  • highest percentage of kids on IEPs in country -- 20.2% vs. 13.8% nat'l avg.
  • legislative leadership supports charter schools and led major expansion of law last year
  • board of regents just passed tougher graduation standards, and new alternative cert regs to allow TFA, TNTP; new TNTP partnership announced this month = we move fast
  • mayors representing half the state won charter authority to challenge status quo = strong mayoral support for reform, coupled with support from legislative leaders and governor
  • RI is on radar of national reform groups who are ready to enter RI with new leader: oppty to "flood the zone"
  • I WILL PERSONALLY MOVE HELL OR HIGH WATER TO MAKE NEW COMMISSIONER SUCCESSFUL and ensure she/he has full support and "air cover" from other state leaders, incl. gov, legislative leadership, mayors and board of regents
  • More about me and RI: I have a blog at http://blog.bestforkids.org/

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