Commissioner's Resignation Shatters Friday Quiet

Yesterday, we took a philosophically taxing tour through the moral stickiness of education. I had hoped that today would be a good chance to cool off and talk about something a little less heavy. No such luck.

If you pay even a little attention to the education scene in Colorado, you probably heard that Commissioner Rich Crandall stepped down from his post yesterday afternoon.Crandall was unanimously approved as the new commissioner by the Colorado State Board of Education in early January following a roughly six-month stint under interim Commissioner Elliott Asp. Commissioner Robert Hammond, our last permanent commissioner, stepped down in July of last year.

Crandall released a statement via the CDE website explaining the decision:

… today I submitted my resignation to the State Board of Education. The realities of my large family being out of state, including school-age children, as well as the demands of the position and the time required to fully serve a state as diverse and expansive as Colorado, led me to this decision. I have enjoyed getting to know and work with so many supporters of public education, especially the staff at the Department of Education. I wish the state board and staff well as they work on implementation of ESSA and the many key policy issues facing the board.

I hope our paths cross again some day.

So there you have it. Is this the full story? I don’t know. My admittedly sparse network of five-year-old sources has yet to close in on the complete explanation. It is notable that the departure comes in the wake of a few high-profile folks leaving CDE. Then again, nobody seemed to know this was coming. You’d think boiling discontent would have at least produced a few ripples. But hey, maybe they’re just really good at keeping quiet. Bureaucracies are famous for that skill, after all.

Some of you probably remember that CDE experienced a similar rash of departures after Robert Hammond stepped down as commissioner. That “exodus” occurred at a time of transition for the state board, and also resulted in the sudden resignation of Republican board member Marcia Neal. Things have settled down a little since then, though this latest episode may suggest that there’s more internal turmoil at CDE than most of us thought.

Most of this is, of course, idle speculation. I suspect we’ll be learning more in the coming days and weeks about what really happened. For now, I’d like to thank Commissioner Crandall for his service, regardless of how short-lived that service was. Whatever his reason for leaving our state, I wish him all the best.

The State Board will be holding an emergency meeting on the subject at 4:30 PM this afternoon. Here’s hoping the new interim commissioner, Katy Anthes, is ready for what is likely to be a wild ride. In the meantime, let’s all keep our fingers crossed for a great permanent replacement for Commissioner Crandall.