Oregon Education Chief Nancy Golden to retire

The Oregonian
By Betsy Hammond

Nancy Golden, who for two years has overseen public education in Oregon from preschool to college, will retire in two weeks, Gov. Kate Brown announced Monday.

Lindsey Capps, 40, a former teachers union leader who is Brown's education adviser, will succeed Golden, 64, in an interim capacity while continuing as adviser to the governor, Brown's office said. Capps previously served as Golden's chief of staff for seven months.

Golden, a former superintendent of Springfield schools with decades of experience in Oregon public education, was chosen by former Gov. John Kitzhaber to serve as Oregon's second chief education officer.

Golden succeeded Rudy Crew, who became a lightning rod for criticism of his leadership style and the job itself. He quit after slightly more than a year to take a college presidency in New York City.

Her current salary is $225,00 a year. She is taking a regular retirement and will receive no severance pay.

The job of chief education officer, once envisioned as all-powerful and likely to bring dramatic change to the state's public education system, was Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. after Kitzhaber's scandal-driven loss of the governorship.

That means Oregon's Higher Education Coordinating Commission, state schools chief Salam Noor and early childhood education director Megan Irwin have more autonomy to oversee their respective areas and that school districts and community colleges have more independence, too.

Golden was well-liked by the education establishment and school advocates who saw her as a good listener, willing to compromise, knowledgable about Oregon education and a strong advocate for better serving minority, low-income and second language students.

She departs with much of the ambitious agenda she laid out unfinished. She had pledged to change early reading instruction, in preschools and early elementary grades, but the Legislature chose not to fund the turbo-charged approach she and former schools chief Rob Saxton championed.

Golden also headed efforts to change the emphasis on testing in Oregon schools, in partnership with the Oregon Education Association. A task force laid out a vision of better educating and equipping teachers to give high quality classroom teststhroughout the school year to inform teaching practices from week to week, decreasing the sometimes-obsessive emphasis on year-end state tests.

But the specifics of how that might occur have yet to be addressed. Capps and others in Brown's office have so far not answered questions from The Oregonian/OregonLive about how and whether that work would continue.

Capps will assume the chief education officer duties on Sept. 1. His current salary of $136,000 will be bumped up to $150,000 while he does both jobs.

Brown plans to choose a permanent successor, spokesman Melissa Navas said. But Navas said Monday she does not know anything about the scope or timeline for the search.