imageLast week, Iowa Governor-Elect Terry Branstad tapped an education consultant from Ohio,Jason E. Glass, as the new director of the Iowa Department of Education.  Governor Branstad said of Glass:

Jason is a reform-minded leader for this department, and someone who will bring a strong sense of accountability to the position. He is a collaborator, and all of Iowa’s students, teachers and parents will benefit with Jason as director.

He most recently is “senior director for human capital strategy” (consultant) at Battelle for Kids where he “provides policy leadership and technical consulting to state departments of education and school districts in implementing comprehensive human capital strategies, including strategic compensation systems, evaluation systems and the use of multiple measures to improve teaching effectiveness and student learning.”  Before that he was Director of Human Resources at Eagle County Schools in Colorado.  He has a bachelors and masters degree in political science and a masters in education.  He is working on his PhD in education at Seton Hall University.

Staci Hupp of The Des Moines Register reported:

The Ohio education consultant’s agenda will include overhauling the way teachers are evaluated and paid. He played a key role in a Colorado school district’s performance-pay plan, which teachers there applaud today.

"The rest of the country, the rest of the world, has accelerated, and we’ve created systems that don’t allow for innovation, that don’t allow for us to take risks, that don’t allow for systems to work," said Glass, 39. "That has to stop. Part of what I will be about is trying in as many ways as we can to allow for greater innovation in schools. I think that happens by not imposing greater central control on schools, but actually freeing up local school districts to try new things."

She also notes that Branstad broke with tradition as typically former principals or school superintendents have filled that role.  She said part of his recent work was with education leaders in Tennessee.

His recent consulting work included helping Tennessee education leaders carry out a reform plan that was awarded millions of dollars through the federal Race to the Top competition, President Barack Obama’s signature school reform effort.

Not excited about his assistance on helping them receive Race to the Trough Top funds… as the federal government told states to adopt their measure in order to just be eligible for federal money.  I’m curious what his position on the federal role of education is.  Also what I don’t know is where he stands on school choice.

I hear crickets… and there were no school choice or non-public school organizations at the press conference.

Eric Goranson, the Iowa Director of American Principles Project, said the following about Glass’ appointment, “In Ohio, Glass was a strong advocate of the “Common Core Standards” approach, but  we are hopeful that here in Iowa, he will work with us to empower Iowa parents, create transparency in the educational system, and support parental choice in education.”

So my grade is “incomplete.”  I can’t get excited about the pick yet, but I’ll remain optimistic until I know more.  The fact that Branstad bucked the trend I think is a good thing, but I still see a person whose sole experience and involvement has been with public schools.  So I just don’t know.


Governor Branstad’s pick of Linda Lantor Fandel as his special assistant for education honestly has me perplexed.  She has been the editorial page editor for The Des Moines Register since July 2009.  Before that she covered education as a reporter, editorial writer and deputy-editorial page editor for 20 years.

She has no academic preparation in education (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing the way most universities are today), instead has a B.A. in political science.  Fandel said in a press release from the Branstad transition team that…

Iowa’s children must be ready to compete with young people around the globe for high-skilled jobs when they grow up.  That calls for making sure our young people are as well prepared as those in Canada and other countries that rank among top school systems internationally. Iowa has a tradition of a strong commitment to education. Serving as special assistant for education in the Branstad/Reynolds administration is a great opportunity to help shape that commitment for the future.

This tells me nothing of her educational philosophy, attitude toward non-public education, and her position on school choice.  Being the editorial page editor at The Register is actually a negative in my book due to their liberal bias and further makes me suspect of her advocacy for reform within the educational system.  Yes change is needed, but not all change is good.  For instance she opined a year ago in favor of the Iowa Core Curriculum and for a “challenging national curriculum.”

There a number of questions in my mind like does she agree with her new boss regarding the Iowa Core Curriculum.  Where does she stand on school choice?  How will she advise Governor Branstad if a homeschooling or tuition tax credit bill comes across his desk?  Where does she stand on sex education within the schools?  What relationship should Iowa’s private schools have with the Iowa Core Curriculum?

What I do know I’m not impressed… for now I give her appointment a D.

Both Fandel and Glass have the opportunity to raise their grades.

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