UPDATED: State Ed Commissioner Resigns

Embattled Colorado Education Commissioner William J. Moloney announced his resignation at the state Board of Education meeting this morning.

Colorado Confidential coverage includes statements from ProgressNow Action, Jared Polis, and Rep. Mike Merrified with more to follow.

NEW: Statements from the Colorado Department of Education and Commissioner Moloney.

Image from the Colorado Department of EducationAP is now reporting:

Colorado Education Commissioner Bill Moloney, a champion of standardized tests for public-school students, said Thursday he will resign in June after 10 years on the job.

Moloney said he announced his resignation four months in advance to give the state Board of Education time to find a successor. The commissioner is appointed by the elected Board of Education, which oversees public kindergarten- through 12-grade schools.

In a statement, Moloney said the state testing program is making progress and has “rightly put Colorado at the front of the line regarding education reform.”

Statement from Michael Huttner, ProgressNow Action:

“On behalf of the hundreds of Coloradans who joined our call for Commissioner Moloney to resign, we are relieved that he has finally agreed to step down,” stated Michael Huttner, Executive Director of ProgressNowAction which launched a campaign to advocate for Moloney’s resignation.  “We look forward to working with the State Board of Education to find a succcessor who works well with local communities throughout Colorado and benefits all the children of Colorado.”

On June 8, 2006 ProgressNowAction launched www.MoloneyResign.com which updated hundreds of Coloradoans statewide on ways they could help push for Moloney’s resignation.

Statement from former Colorado Board of Education member Jared Polis:

It’s a great opportunity for the state of Colorado to select a commissioner who is committed to improving our public education system and will provide a new bold vision. I hope the board can find a consensus candidate who can bridge the gap between the Democrats and Republicans.

Statement from Rep. Mike Merrifield (D-El Paso) and chairman of the House Education Committee:

I’d like to thank Mr. Moloney for his decade of service to the people of Colorado. I look forward to working with the State Board of Education as they search for a new Commissioner, and I look forward to working with that person in making Colorado’s schools world-class institutions, and helping Colorado’s students achieve the Colorado Promise.

Statement by members of the Colorado Department of Education:

Today, at their regularly scheduled February State Board of Education meeting, the Colorado State Board of Education (SBE) and Commissioner Bill Moloney made public the impending close of one era and the beginning of another.

Commissioner Moloney announced he would be departing his post in June, which would enable the Board to complete the search for his successor.

The State Board also announced that they had commenced conversations with the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) regarding the search process.

SBE Chairman Pam Suckla praised Moloney and expressed gratitude for his service to Colorado: 

“Bill pushed hard for the children of our state.  He did not seek controversy but he did not shrink from it either.  He often reminded us that our mission was about the needs of children not the comfort of adults.  He was untiring in promoting the vision and the tasks that lead the State Board to summon him to Colorado ten years ago.  Through his leadership, speaking, and op-eds he brought intellectual force and determination to the cause of reform.  When the Board had occasion to be about the country, it was ever clear to us that no state had a stronger more articulate, or better chief than we did.”

Senior member of the Board Mr. Randy DeHoff reflected on his eight years of working with Commissioner Moloney: 

“Bill embodied the State Board of Education’s commitment to change and our willingness to challenge the status quo on behalf of kids.  The occasional brick bats that he and we got were a small price to pay for the strong communication of our message of reform.”

Chairman Suckla further noted:  “Transitions are never easy.  We are grateful that over a year ago Bill insisted that we begin thinking about the future.  We are also most grateful to him for fulfilling his promise to stay with us through this period of transition.”

Board members have long been active in NASBE and noted its very strong credentials in the highly specialized area of Chief State School Officer searches.  Mr. DeHoff, who is a Western Director for NASBE said: 

“NASBE has served Colorado in past Chief searches and their experience in states across the nation gives them an invaluable expertise to be lent to our Board as it approaches this all important task.”

Moloney said he looked back with fondness and satisfaction on his decade as Colorado’s chief: 

“The stability and continuity of Colorado’s reform program going back to the work of Governor Romer and earlier State Boards of Education has rightly put Colorado at the front of the line regarding education reform.  Much has been accomplished for children through the splendid work of countless Colorado educators.  Of course, so much remains to be done.  The names of those who have fought this good fight may change but the journey never ends and the cause never dies.”

Statement by Commissioner William Moloney:

Over a year ago, it was evident to me that Colorado was approaching a New Era in general and in particular with regard to education reform.

January 2007 would see the inauguration of a new Governor.  Election results and term limits would mean a new look in the General Assembly.  Very important to the State Board of Education would be the shift from its eight-member configuration to the more traditional seven-member body of previous years.

All of this would coincide with my rounding out ten years as Commissioner of Education.

These circumstances allied to personal and professional reasons strongly suggested that this would be a good time to inaugurate a conversation with the State Board of Education about an orderly and effective process that would lead to the selection of a new Commissioner of Education.

Given the turbulence that commonly attends election years, we knew that this was not the optimum time to inaugurate a search process.  Accordingly, I pledged to the Board that I would see them through the election and into the above noted New Era.  In the interest of stability, we appropriately agreed not to indulge in any public discussion.

The anticipated transition and the new era came.  In terms of the political landscape, it was a more striking transformation in Colorado and nationally than most would have expected.

What would Colorado education reform look like in this new time? 

In many ways, it will continue to build upon the stability and continuity of the Romer-Owens era.  Commitment to lifting student achievement, closing the achievement gap and promoting accountability remains powerful.

Yet, the reform conversation will change inevitably in ways we cannot fully anticipate.  Some think the pace will slow down, yet phenomena such as Tough Choices or Tough Times suggest it will speed up and become even more sweeping in character.

A quarter of a century after A Nation at Risk we are rightly alarmed at the glacial pace of change, the intractable dilemmas of urban education, the worsening indicators regarding dropouts, graduation rates, and youth violence, and the depressing argumentation that seems to attend every step of the reform journey.

Yet, the mounting and incontrovertible evidence that the poorest school can be dramatically transformed by the combination of strong leadership and clearly focused instruction must lift our spirits.  What is needed, is that we should brush aside any false pride that we have that so many such schools exist and instead find a national will  that insists

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