LISTEN: New education commissioner talks opening schools, other issues

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UPDATE, POSTED 12 P.M. WEDNESDAY, JULY 15, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky native, Jason Glass, was named the state’s next commissioner or education for the state.

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Although he doesn’t officially start for weeks, he’s already working on critical issues like getting kids back in school and keeping there safely and increasing diversity in the state’s teaching and staff ranks.

WTVQ ABC 36 Chief Meteorologist Jason Lindsey, himself a STEM certified educator and the producer of nationally recognized ‘Hooked on Science,’ spent some time speaking with Glass, whose first teaching job was in Hazard, about the job ahead.

ORIGINAL STORY Posted Friday, July 10, 11 a.m.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Jason Glass will be the next Kentucky Commissioner of Education, the state board announced Friday.

And the selection and the process drew praise from mist educators and observers around the state.

“Dr. Glass was identified by the board as our next commissioner following a very extensive and productive national search,” said Lu Young, chair of the Kentucky Board of Education. “Throughout this process I have been overwhelmed by the integrity of the process and the quality of applicants for the position of commissioner.

“Dr. Glass’ extensive experience, including having served as the chief state school officer in Iowa and as a school superintendent with urban, suburban and rural school communities, along with a strategic vision and a track record for moving a school transformation agenda at the state policy level combine to make him a great fit for the Commonwealth.”

Glass has been serving as superintendent and chief learner for Jeffco Public Schools in the metro Denver area since 2017. Prior to that, he served as the superintendent of Eagle County Schools in Colorado and as Iowa’s Director of Education, serving as the chief state school officer from 2010 to 2013.

He was previously the senior director of human capital strategy with Battelle for Kids and has held district leadership posts in human resources and research and assessment, worked as vice president of Quality Ratings with Qualistar Early Learning, held several posts with the Colorado Department of Education; and worked as a university instructor while a graduate student at the University of Kentucky, teaching at UK and Georgetown College.

Glass began his teaching career as a high school social studies teacher for Hazard Independent Schools. In 2016, President Barack Obama nominated him to the National Board for Education Sciences.

On July 7, the KBE announced that it had selected a candidate to fill the position and would enter contract negotiations. Glass was one of three finalists interviewed for the position.

Young said since the final interview, she and Glass have been negotiating a contract she believes will be acceptable to the full board.

“I am circulating the contract I propose for adoption by the board and will ask to schedule a special called meeting for the purpose of adopting this contract, hopefully within the next week,” she said.

Glass will assume the position currently held by Interim Education Commissioner Kevin C. Brown. Upon his hire, the board agreed to Brown’s request that he would not be considered a candidate for the permanent position. Brown has been serving in the role since Dec. 18.

“My first action as governor was to overhaul the Kentucky Board of Education by reorganizing it with members who believe in our educators and our public schools – and today, after a national search, the board selected a new leader not based on politics, but on his vision for improving our public schools,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “We welcome Dr. Jason Glass, our state’s new commissioner of education, back to Kentucky. Dr. Glass has deep roots in Kentucky education, and his years of public education experience in classrooms, as superintendent and state director of education will help ensure our children come first. Congratulations – now it’s time to get to work.”

The Kentucky Education Association also welcomed the selection.

“Dr. Glass brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the commissioner’s position. He has served as a chief state education officer, a leader of a large metropolitan school district and as a superintendent of county schools. That experience makes him well suited to meet the needs of Kentucky’s public school systems and its students,” said Eddie Campbell, president of the 44,000-member association. “Like the state associations in Iowa and Colorado have in the past, we look forward to working with Commissioner Glass and the entire board to create the highest quality public education system in the nation.”

As the leader of the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), the commissioner oversees the Bluegrass State’s K-12 school system and its 650,000 students, as well as acts as superintendent of the Kentucky School for the Blind, the Kentucky School for the Deaf and 53 area technology centers.

A native of Brandenburg, Ky., and a 1990 graduate of Meade County High School, Glass earned his doctorate in education leadership from Seton Hall University, a master’s in political science, a master’s in education and a bachelor’s in political science and history, all from the University of Kentucky.

As a third generation Kentucky educator, Glass is thrilled to be back in his home state and excited for the future of Kentucky public education.

“I am so incredibly grateful to the board for this opportunity to serve the Commonwealth and I am excited to embark on this effort to improve the future for all of Kentucky’s children,” Glass said. “Kentucky has given so much to me in a quality public education experience – the opportunity for a world-class university experience and a start to my professional career in the state. My wife Sarah and I look forward to relocating to the Bluegrass State and to our children growing up and going to public school in Kentucky.”

Glass is anticipated to begin his new role as Kentucky’s chief state school officer in September.

“Congratulations to Dr. Jason Glass on being named the next Kentucky commissioner of education. The Kentucky Board of Education has chosen a highly experienced candidate with the capacity to return our state to its place as a national leader in educational improvement,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, president of the Prichard Committee.

“We were exceptionally pleased with the diversity of the final pool of candidates and urge Commissioner Glass to put together a diverse leadership team at KDE that reflects the diversity of Kentucky’s public school students. All three final candidates would have served Kentucky exceptionally well. We look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Cummings-Smith and Dr. Heilig in their positions at Jefferson County Public Schools and at the University of Kentucky.

“Now, amid both the COVID-19 pandemic and a national awakening on systemic racism, we need a strong leader who can strengthen our education outcomes in this critical time in our history, and Dr. Glass appears to have all the right qualifications for this weighty task. Kentucky’s schools have simply failed to deliver for students of color, and it is imperative that Dr. Glass owns this truth and uses all available tools to close belief gaps, opportunity gaps, academic achievement gaps, and excellence gaps,” Ramsey continued.

“We are especially pleased that Dr. Glass has a history of championing student voice and look forward to inviting him to hold a conversation with our Student Voice Team at his earliest convenience. Our team uses the tools of civic engagement to elevate the voices of young people in education research and policy. We look forward to a productive partnership.

Finally, we applaud the Kentucky Board of Education for its passage of a resolution on racial equity  in Kentucky’s K-12 school system. The resolution sends an important signal that now is the time to remedy historical injustices in education, born of racism,” Ramsey concluded.