Oregon’s superintendent of schools, Susan Castillo, has announced her resignation two and a half years before the conclusion of her term. While Castillo said that she was making the move in order to take up a leadership position at an education-related non-profit, her resignation paves the way for the Governor John Kitzhaber to take an unprecedented degree of control over the state’s education system. Kitzhaber will take over the duties of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, which, prior to the 2011 law, was an elected position. The law was scheduled to go into effect either at the end of Castillo’s third term or at her resignation, whichever came earliest.
Although Carillo had expressed support for Kitzhaber’s reforms, which were aimed at streamlining the state’s education system from pre-K all the way to graduate school, and had previously said that she was committed to serving out her term, an invitation to become the regional vice president of Project Lead The Way was too tempting to turn down.
“I was not out looking, this opportunity came to me,” she said in an interview Monday.
She declined to disclose how much the new job will pay, but it is likely more than the $72,000 a year she currently earns as the lowest paid state superintendent in the country.
Castillo, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, was elected superintendent after serving in the Legislature and was considered a rising star in Oregon politics.
Castillo will not be replaced, but the governor did appoint a new person to oversee Oregon’s schools, colleges and universities. Rudy Crew, previously of New York, Miami, and Sacramento, among others, will taking over as first Chief Education Officer. In this position he will be answerable directly to the governor, and will work together with the a new superboard to improve education for the over 500,000 Oregon students. This new governing structure will be responsible for shaping the direction of the state’s 1,200 public and charter schools.
“Every governor says they want to improve public education,” Tim Raphael, Kitzhaber’s spokesman said Monday. “This is the first administration to put itself on the line to be accountable for delivering better results for students.”
The 2011 law does require the governor to appoint a deputy superintendent of instruction to run the Education Department, which currently employs about 380. Raphael said the governor will name that person by July 1.
Castillo said that she didn’t warn the governor of her plans in advance of the announcement.