Editorial: $280,000 is enough to expect Crew's full-time attention


Published Apr 19, 2013 at 05:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

We’ll admit that Oregon’s education czar, Rudy Crew, is underpaid — at least by college football coach standards. Then again, Crew has never taken the Oregon Ducks to the playoffs, a feat that, in some minds at least, made former UO football coach Chip Kelly worth every penny of the $3.5 million he was paid last year. Crew’s salary of more than a quarter of a million dollars is downright paltry by comparison.

Still, Crew is making $280,000 a year as Oregon’s top educator, which works out to $134.62 an hour, assuming he works the standard 40-hour week. He may not be.

Crew, you see, asked for and received permission from the Oregon Government Ethics Commission to moonlight while he’s in Oregon. He sought advice from that body about doing work for the Jasper Group, a New York headhunting firm, according to the Willamette Week. Commission officials said he could take the job, but only if he was careful to separate it from his day job.

All of which makes sense, in a goofy sort of way. Gov. John Kitzhaber, after all, got similar permission from the same commission to do a little public speaking on the side. Like Crew, he was told to be careful not to let work for the state of Oregon get mixed up with paid speeches for someone else. Kitzhaber, by the way, makes less than half of what Crew takes home each year.

Still, we thought Crew had been hired to work full time for the state of Oregon. The task he’s been charged with, a complete revamp of Oregon’s education system from preschool on up, is, after all, a pretty complex undertaking. Moreover, doing it with the kind of budget restraints that are likely to be in place unless there’s genuine reform to the state’s Public Employees Retirement System’s pension plans makes the job much, much harder.

Kitzhaber has big plans for Oregon education, and to accomplish them he’s going to need someone whose mind is focused on the task at hand. He may not be getting that with Crew if the latter is also working elsewhere, and it’s Oregonians who will be shortchanged as a result.