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Katy Anthes, who helped stabilize education department, appointed Colorado’s education commissioner

Katy Anthes (photo by Nic Garcia).

Katy Anthes, who won the respect of educators, advocates and lawmakers during the past seven months as Colorado’s interim education commissioner, was appointed Wednesday to the position on a permanent basis by the State Board of Education.

Anthes, 42, was named interim commissioner in May after then-Commissioner Rich Crandall abruptly resigned after only four months on the job.

Her appointment at the time was seen as a move by the state board to stabilize the state education department amid high-profile resignations and turnover.

“It’s no surprise to me that she has proven to be especially talented in areas that are very much needed in this role,” Steve Durham, the state board’s chairman, said in a statement. “My fellow board members as well as district leaders, educators, legislators and others across the state have all been impressed with her ability to build bridges and find productive middle ground in solving tough problems.”

Anthes, who previously served as the education department’s chief of staff, has a reputation for being a consensus-builder in a field known for sharp differences on policy.

“I’m honored and humbled by the trust placed in me today, and I will aim to serve as a model for the type of leadership we need across our state and country,” she said in a statement. “I think it is critically important that we listen to each other, respect diverse perspectives and look for solutions that will work.”

Anthes’s appointment comes on the eve of what is shaping up to be a very busy year for the department. On the agenda: writing a federally required plan that details how the state plans to adjust to the nation’s new education laws, assisting the state board with deciding on sanctions for Colorado’s lowest-performing schools and a review of academic standards.

Anthes previously served as the department’s chief of staff. She first joined the department in 2011 to oversee the state’s rollout of a landmark teacher evaluation law.

Anthes holds a Ph.D. in public policy and a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Colorado Denver. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Oregon.

Her salary as commissioner will be $255,000.

Mr. (Board) President

Telluride’s Paul Reich taking over as Colorado Association of School Boards board president

Paul Reich

The association representing Colorado school boards is about to have a new board president.

Paul Reich, a member of the Telluride school board since 2011, on Jan. 1 will take over as board president of the Colorado Association of School Boards, a powerful voice in state education policy.

“Paul is a steady hand but leads with his heart,” Carrie Warren-Gully, the outgoing board president, said at the organization’s annual convention earlier this month. “Paul is thoughtful, but speaks with passion. Paul is organized but is flexible, and Paul has a vision and will work to involve us all.”

The school board association represents and advocates for more than 1,000 Colorado school board members and superintendents at the statehouse and other policy arenas. It also provides services, information and training programs to support school board members as they govern.

Reich and his wife, Christine, own two retail stores in Telluride. Their five children attend or have graduated from Telluride Public Schools. Reich also works as the behavioral health program manager for Tri-County Health Network, focusing on reducing the stigma of mental illness, expanding access to care in the region, and advocating on behalf of mental health services in his community and in the state, according to a statement from the association.

Reich also serves as secretary of the board for the Center for Mental Health, the mental health provider for a six-county region; and on the Telluride Commission for Community Assistance, Arts and Special Events. He has a bachelor’s in history from Grinnell College in Iowa.

Reich gave a stirring speech at a meeting of school board association members earlier this year, calling for an end to the “attack” on public schools. He told Chalkbeat that he hopes the state’s next governor will help change the conversation about the state’s schools.

Togetherness?

Detroit city leaders to district and charter schools: Please work together to improve education for kids

Tensions might be high between Detroit district and charter schools these days, but a powerful coalition of city leaders says the warring factions need to start working together to solve Detroit’s educational crisis.

The Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren, which includes prominent leaders from government, schools, non-profits, businesses, unions and philanthropy, today issued a list of recommendations for ways to improve Detroit schools.

Among them are things like a centralized attendance system that would track children’s absences, regardless of whether they attend a district or a charter school.

Other recommendations include a city-wide #DetroitProud marketing campaign designed to lure families back to the city from suburban schools to attend either district or charter schools, as well as a “Teach Detroit” tool to help all schools recruit educators. Currently district and charter schools compete aggressively for both students and teachers and rarely, if ever, work together.

Detroit Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, who has taken a combative stance against charters since his arrival in Detroit last spring, has expressed skepticism in the past about whether the district would benefit from collaborations with charters but his cooperation would likely be key to implementing these measures.

Vitti served as a member of the coalition’s steering committee, as did several charter school leaders. He attended the coalition’s press conference on Wednesday and said he is “fully supporting what is embedded in these initiatives” because they align with the district’s goals of improving student achievement and conditions for kids.

But how the district and charter schools will ultimately cooperate with each other — and what that could look like — isn’t yet clear.

“How we begin to execute those recommendations and how we approach citywide strategies [is something] we still need to negotiate,” said Tonya Allen, a coalition co-chair who heads the Skillman Foundation (a Chalkbeat supporter). “We’ll figure out some places where there are tension points and we expect that … but we believe as a community that if we don’t do it, then we are creating a sentence for our children and it’s not one of prosperity.”

The coalition isn’t calling for mandatory cooperation this time around.

The first time the group issued recommendations for Detroit schools back in 2015, a key proposal was a “Detroit Education Commission” that would have had authority over district and charter schools and could have overseen efforts such as common enrollment and transportation systems.

That proposal was eventually defeated in Lansing after it ran into strong opposition from charter school backers — including now-U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — who feared the commission would favor district over charter schools.

This time around, the so-called “Coalition 2.0” effort is calling for a voluntary “education ecosystem” that would be facilitated by the mayor’s office. It would set quality standards for all schools and would work with school leaders to “voluntarily create a charter-district compact that reviews, discusses, and presents plans for better coordination and transparency about school openings and school closings … and opportunities for citywide collaboration in areas such as a centralized data system.”

The Coalition 2.0 report stressed that this mayoral commission “would not usurp the authority” of the district or charter school boards.

Another major difference between Coalition 2.0 and its predecessor is that this year’s effort is more focused on things that don’t require support from lawmakers in Lansing.

One exception is a call to change the way the state funds special education so that the state would cover the cost of services that schools are required to provide. Recommendations also include a school funding formula that would send more money to schools whose students have greater needs.

Read the full report here: