Kitzhaber picks ex-NYC schools chief for education post

Kitzhaber picks ex-NYC schools chief for education post

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Gov. John Kitzhaber plans to name Rudy Crew, the former chancellor of New York Public Schools, to be Oregon's first chief education officer, the governor's office said Tuesday.

Crew would have expansive power to oversee all facets of education from preschool to college under Kitzhaber's plan to streamline the education system. The governor plans to introduce him at a news conference on Wednesday, and the Oregon Education Investment Board is scheduled to vote Thursday on formally hiring him.

Crew is a well-known figure in education circles. He ran the New York City public school system, the nation's largest school district with 1 million students, from 1995 to 2000. Later, he was the superintendent of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, a 350,000-student district. He's credited with implementing programs in both districts to turn around low-performing schools by selecting school populations based on student needs rather than geographic boundaries.

He was ousted from the Miami job after four years when several board members questioned his management style and financial stewardship, according to news reports from 2008. He told interviewers that he lost his job because he focused relentlessly on his reform agenda and didn't pay much attention to his political relationships with the school board.

Before leading urban districts in New York and Miami, Crew led smaller districts in Massachusetts, California, and Washington state, and he's worked on a variety of education reform initiatives over a 40-year-career.

Crew has been an education professor at the University of Southern California since 2009. He could not immediately be reached.

"The governor is excited to have found somebody with the experience, with the national reputation for innovation, and with the courage for change that Dr. Crew brings to Oregon," said Tim Raphael, a Kitzhaber spokesman.

The Legislature created the chief education officer position in 2011 when lawmakers voted to approve Kitzhaber's plan to improve coordination among disparate elements of the education system. The education chief is hired by the new Education Investment Board, whose members were selected by Kitzhaber are expected to approve his chosen candidate.

The chief education officer will eventually have control over the leaders of the Department of Education, the university system, the community colleges commission and other state agencies. He'll be expected to oversee the development of achievement compacts spelling out the test scores and graduation rates that school districts, colleges and universities are expected to achieve.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.