New Oregon Education Chief opens GSE 2012-13 school year

GSE faculty, staff, and friends gathered for the annual State of the School event featuring keynote speaker Dr. Rudy Crew. Dr. Crew is Oregon’s new Education Chief, a position created by Governor Kitzhaber this year to implement state education reforms.

Dr. Crew’s address focused on teacher preparation and professional development. His background as the former head of several substantial school districts, including New York City, Miami, Sacramento, and Tacoma, gives him a wide-range of experience, but serving as a system head of an entire state is a new challenge. He is genuinely optimistic about the prospect. “Hey, it’s finally my turn,” he said. “This is finally a place that has all the preconditions for actually stepping into this prideful and incredibly challenging environment.”

Dr. Crew challenged the GSE to provide him with the research data and tools to enable educators to prioritize those programs and practices that are working in order to make better outcomes for students and schools. He emphasized that reading programs are a key tool in helping students succeed, and is particularly concerned about the one-third of students in the classroom who consistently show up in the achievement gap. “We are not doing, in my judgment, enough around the issue of reading,” he said. “What I’ve always seen as the greatest resource in that classroom was a teacher who knew how to teach reading.”

Dr. Crew is very new to this position, having been appointed in May, but is cognizant of Oregon’s school funding crisis, which continues to confound educators and educational leaders in all three systems. While not offering any solutions in Tuesday’s address, he says he will be the first in line to ask the legislature for money when the time comes and a plan is in place.

“I am totally convinced that he cares deeply about students at all levels, about quality education for all students, and about social justice,” said Dean Randy Hitz. “He is impatient with the education system and with policies that lead to a lack of progress. He is rolling up his sleeves and pushing hard and fast for change in Oregon.”

Dr. Crew has offices in Salem and in Portland on PSU’s campus. In fact, he has accepted a faculty appointment in the Graduate School of Education. “We look forward to having him interact with our faculty and students,” says Dean Hitz.

“I can’t think of anything more important to the work of 40-40-20 than the idea of strengthening and being a resource, and helping to develop new and different strategies, and using research to inform the formation of those strategies, and understanding grouping, and understanding language diversity. I can’t think of anything more important than the school of education and its role in being able to shape the totality of the conversation.”— Rudy Crew, 2012.

Last year saw some of the most drastic changes in the state’s education system ever conceived. In February 2011, the governor announced the creation of an “Investment Board” to oversee a new system that consolidates K-12 education, Oregon’s community colleges and the Oregon University System. The ambitious plan, Senate Bill 909, passed the legislature in 2011, gave the new board authority over 51 percent of the state’s budget. Governor Kitzhaber appointed Dr. Crew in May to lead the board in finding ways to consolidate the three systems and improve education pathways from cradle to career.

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