Castillo resigns as school superintendent

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by Associated Press

kgw.com

Posted on June 5, 2012 at 8:19 AM

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 next 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.

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