PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Oregon's superintendent of public instruction, Susan Castillo, said Monday she is resigning to take a job July 1 with a nonprofit organization.
Castillo is the last person to hold the job as an elected statewide official. That's the result of changes pushed by Gov. John Kitzhaber and approved this year by the Legislature to consolidate authority over education under a board named by the governor.
Castillo, a Democrat, is a former legislator and television journalist who was elected three times to the job, most recently in 2010. She released a statement Monday saying she will become regional vice president of an organization called Project Lead the Way, which develops science and technical curricula for schools.
"This opportunity fits perfectly with my strong belief that every one of our children is capable of reaching high levels of achievement," she said.
Castillo was a consistent supporter of most of Kitzhaber's education initiatives, though she was a vocal opponent of his push to eliminate her job. The governor, and his supporters in the Legislature, argued that the prospect of an election campaign and a political job deterred the brightest education minds from seeking the job.
As superintendent of public instruction, Castillo is in charge of the state Department of Education, which regulates K-12 schools. After the changes approved by the Legislature, the governor will appoint someone to lead the agency and to work under a new chief education officer responsible for overseeing the entire education system from preschool to college.
Kitzhaber said he'll consult with Rudy Crew, who was named the first chief education officer last week, on an interim superintendent. He plans to name his pick by July 1.
"I am committed to a smooth transition and moving forward on the important education reforms that are under way to deliver better results for Oregon students," Kitzhaber said in a statement.
Oregon schools have new diploma requirements and have made progress toward closing the achievement gap, despite funding challenges, Castillo said in her statement.
In her new job, Castillo will be responsible for western states and will travel frequently to convince school districts and state officials to adopt Project Lead the Way curriculum, said Jennifer Cahill, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis-based organization.
The organization currently provides supplemental curriculum in science, engineering, math and technology for about 4,200 schools and is preparing for rapid growth over the next year, Cahill said.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
Susan Castillo's statement:
“It has been a great honor to serve as Oregon’s Superintendent of Public Instruction since 2003. Throughout my tenure, I have had the privilege of working with remarkable people at the Oregon Department of Education, the State Board of Education, with students, educators, parents, businesses leaders, and with national leaders who all see the urgent need for our country to improve education outcomes.
“Our state is headed in the right direction under the leadership of Governor Kitzhaber, and I strongly support his ambitious goals for Oregon.
“I have accepted the position of Regional Vice President for Project Lead The Way, a non-profit national leader in STEM education beginning July 1, 2012. Accepting this position allows me to continue providing leadership for our school children on a national level. I’m excited to join an organization that is focused on creating inspiring learning opportunities for students in Oregon and across the country in science, technology, engineering, and math.
“This opportunity fits perfectly with my strong belief that every one of our children is capable of reaching high levels of achievement. As we’ve seen, when we set higher standards for Oregon students, they make greater gains in their academic achievement. Our students have unlimited potential that we must support and foster.
“I leave the office of State Superintendent with many system changes in place. In spite of funding challenges, we have new diploma requirements to better prepare our students for their next steps, our NCLB waiver is moving towards approval, we have made progress on closing the academic achievement gap, and we are expanding full-day kindergarten across the state.
“In particular, I want to salute all of the Celebrating Student Success award winning schools for your unwavering commitment to your students and your courage to not allow any obstacle to get in the way of student success. You are leading the way for Oregon. You are my heroes.
“I feel very blessed to have served the people of Oregon in public office and to have worked with the talented staff at the Oregon Department of Education. I want to thank Oregon’s citizens, everyone in our public schools, in our post secondary institutions, and in the business community for all that you do every day to make a difference for our children.”