Hoping Colorado's New Education Commissioner Will Be a Chief for Change

Yesterday the Colorado State Board of Education was in deliberations to interview and consider one or more applicants for the state’s next education commissioner. Right now everything is in the hush-hush, so don’t even bother to ask me who any of the finalists are. Why? Because I don’t know.

The new commissioner is scheduled to be appointed at the next monthly Board meeting (May 11 and 12). Whoever it ends up being, I hope the leader is a true education transformer, someone who would be at home fitting in with the 10 state education commissioners (having just doubled in size) who form the group “Chiefs for Change.”

Have you heard about Chiefs for Change? It’s “a coalition of state school chiefs and leaders that share a zeal for education reform. Together, they provide a strong voice for bold reform on the federal, state and local level.” You can read their mission statement and guiding principles here. Where are they from? Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia. Maybe Colorado’s next?

While we’re on the topic, I can think of a couple other good potential Chiefs for Change nominees. First, Idaho superintendent Tom Luna — who just successfully helped to shepherd through a comprehensive “Students Come First” reform package. You can read my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow’s latest School Reform News story for the scoop.

Second, what about the new director of Iowa’s Department of Education, Jason Glass? I don’t know whether or not he subscribes to all of the agenda, but the Christian Science Monitor listed the former Coloradan first among “eight school chiefs to watch in 2011” (all the others already are part of Chiefs for Change).

I think the next goal for the group Chiefs for Change should be to reach an even 12 members. Then we could come up with a new nickname for them along the lines of the “Dirty Dozen.” (This is your mission, should you choose to accept it.) If Colorado’s new commissioner comes from the current group, then they still would need two more. But if the new commissioner is a transformer from outside the current ranks, then only one of my two nominees would have to enlist to get the clever nickname campaign in motion.

Of course, no reason to stop at a dozen. The more transformers at the helms of state education departments, the better chance for meaningful change that benefits American students in the long run.