New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has named David Hespe as the state education commissioner to replace the current commissioner Chris Cerf. Hespe was the chief of staff for Cerf, and served as the education minister from 1999-2001 under Governor Christine Todd Whitman.
Christie said in a statement that "Ensuring that every child in New Jersey has access to a high-quality education, regardless of zip code or economic status, is the civil rights challenge of our time and has been a priority of my administration since my first day in office. We've made great progress over the last four years, but our work isn't done."
Christie also said that students and schools will benefit from Hespe's extensive experience, his passion for education excellence and his proven track record of getting results at every level of public education in New Jersey.
Hespe also served at Rown University's College of Education as interim superintendent of Willingboro Schools and was the vice president at the Liberty Science Center.
Hespe is happy to return to Christie's administration.
"Through Governor Christie's aggressive reform agenda, New Jersey has made significant strides in ensuring that our children have access to the quality education that they deserve," said Hespe. "The progress and results we've seen in education over the past years is proof that bold and innovative ideas benefit our students, teachers and families across all levels of education."
The New Jersey School Board Association and the New Jersey Association of School Administrators have issued statements in support of Hespe's appointment. Hespe was welcome by the New Jersey Education Association's President Wendell Steinhauer, who said in a statement that "We have worked well with him in the past and look forward to doing so again." Steinhauer said that they will work with Hespe to find smart, creative, research-based approaches to helping New Jersey's public schools thrive.
Hespe is going to inherit a number of challenges, which include overseeing the state-run turnaround efforts in Newark and Camden, expansion of charter schools, implementation of nationwide Common Core curriculum standards and introduction of new standardized tests.
Hespe, who is president of Burlington County College, resigned on March 20. He became president of BCC in September 2012. His departure means the college will once again need to search for a full-time president.
The Judiciary Committee is required to approve David's appointment before it goes to the full senate for a vote.
Sen. Diane Allen (R-Burlington), who is a member of the Senate Education Committee, said that David's selection is a top-notch. David was called "fair and balanced" by Lawrence Feinsod, executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association, when it came to issues facing public schools in New Jersey.
"I can't think of a better choice for the position," Feinsod said. "He is genuine in his support for public education and in his dedication to students. We look forward to working with him."