In a classroom, when one child misbehaves, it’s often everyone else who must pay the price. In Oregon, when the state’s first education czar goes off the tracks, it’s his successors who must suffer for his indiscretions.
Thus, every chief education officer who follows Rudy Crew, including interim chief Nancy Golden, will be reviewed quarterly and will have to obtain permission in advance for out-of-state travel and speaking engagements, according to The Oregonian newspaper. All because Crew failed to abide by the letter of employment he signed.
Crew was, it’s safe to say, one of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s worst appointments. Hired to revolutionize education in this state, all the way from pre-kindergarten through college, he spent literally months traveling in the year he was in Oregon. He even missed nearly a month of days when the 2013 Legislature was in session and dealing with bills that would have given him the $150 million he said he needed to put his reforms into action.
He was gone so much, in fact, that at least one wag remarked the state should have made him wear an ankle monitor so it could keep track of him.
Crew’s love of flying was only part of his problem, however. He played fast and loose with his expense account, so much so that this spring the governor’s office appointed an experienced chief of staff to help him do better.
It didn’t work.
It’s impossible to know what damage Crew has done to Kitzhaber’s education dreams overall. In the 2013 Legislature, his absence surely made it easier for lawmakers to give him only a fraction of that money he said was necessary to make change happen.
It is possible to know one thing, however. Every man and woman who follows Crew, no matter how ethical, how committed to the job, how frugal with the state’s nickels, will be required to go through hoops most heads of state agencies are largely excused from, including those quarterly performance reviews.