DES MOINES – Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass was named superintendent of the Eagle County School District on a 5-0 vote Wednesday night.
Reached by phone shortly after the vote, Glass said he’ll begin his new job on July 1, pending contract negotiations.
Gov. Terry Branstad sought out the now-41-year-old Glass to shape and help drive a sweeping education reform program for the state. The second bill of what turned out to be a two-year, two-bill reform package passed both chambers just hours before the Eagle County school board took its vote.
“I’m very proud of Iowa tonight,” Glass said. “It was a difficult couple of years and I’m proud of the work we did.”
Glass stood out among Branstad’s department appointees for his media savvy and his push to engage people outside the traditional Des Moines political structure.
Shortly after arriving in Iowa he was named one of eight school reformers to watch by the Christian Science Monitor. He added the words “Chief Learner” to the nameplate above his office door on the second floor of the Grimes State office Building.
He was the first – if not only – department head to read his notes for public speeches off of his iPad and would engage in policy debates on Twitter. Indeed, he announced his selection as superintendent over his @jasonglassia account.
“Tonight, I am so honored to be selected as the next Superintendent of @EagleCOschools! Thank you!” he tweeted. People responded with a steady stream of congratulatory tweets.
His love of social media also played a role in one of the earliest bumps in the road. In September 2011 Glass posted daily blurbs to a blog he put together documenting his attendance at an education conference in Brazil.
That conference was paid for by a grant of the Pearson Foundation, the charitable arm of the mega-testing company. An ethics complaint was filed and eventually dismissed, but not until after Glass took some drubbing from critics.
One frequent critic, at least on a policy level, is Rep. Cindy Winckler, D-Davenport.
Winckler, a retired teacher, says Glass deserves “an incomplete” for his tenure.
“One of things that frustrated me with Director Glass is I wish that in the beginning he would have taken more time to learn what we had in place here instead of just picking up what was popular on the national level,” she said. “I would say an incomplete is appropriate for what we wanted to do and where we are with any of the initiatives.”
Glass said Wednesday he plans on working on those initiatives during his remaining weeks here.
“A lot of what we have (in the education reform package) begins on July 1, so there’s a lot of work to do,” he said.
Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said the process how to pick a replacement for the director has not been made yet.
“The governor understands that any time you attract top talent, others will always want to hire them away. This is recognition that Jason Glass is one of the country’s leading education reformers, and is a talented and skilled leader. We are not surprised that others would want to utilize his talent and services, and would not be surprised were he to be chosen for this position,” he said.