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For Immediate Release
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Contact:Heidi Guarino 781-338-3106

Three Finalists Chosen in Search for Next Massachusetts Commissioner of Education

MALDEN - A Massachusetts superintendent, a deputy commissioner from Ohio and the director of education for a national foundation have been named finalists for the state's top education spot by the Massachusetts Board of Education.

Lowell Superintendent Karla Brooks Baehr, Ohio Senior Associate State Superintendent Mitchell Dan Chester, and Wallace Foundation Education Director Richard Laine were selected from a pool of 16 people who submitted applications to become the state's next commissioner of education. The Board selected eight semifinalists earlier this month, and conducted interviews in executive session on December 14 and 18.

"We are thrilled to have three outstanding finalists, each of whom have had substantial experience in education leadership," said Board of Education Chairman Paul Reville. "The Board will have the difficult but enviable task of choosing from among these three exceptional but quite different leaders. In any event, the children of the Commonwealth will be well served."

Dana Mohler-Faria, Special Advisor on Education to Governor Deval Patrick, agreed.

"I commend the Board of Education for its exceptional search process, resulting in three accomplished and respected finalists to become the Commonwealth's next Commissioner of Education," he said. "The new Commissioner will play a critical role in achieving the Governor's vision for education reform."

Karla Brooks Baehr has been Superintendent of the Lowell Public Schools since 2000, overseeing the state's fourth largest city. Prior to moving to Lowell she taught curriculum and instruction in a master's program at Lesley University's Graduate School of Education, served as Superintendent of the Wellesley Public Schools, and interim Superintendent in Lexington and Franklin. She is the current leader of the Urban Superintendent's Network and sits on the state Attorney General's Urban Violence Subcommittee. She lives in Newton.

Mitchell Dan Chester has been Senior Associate State Superintendent for the Ohio Department of Education since 2006. In this role he oversees education policy development, the state's accountability system and alignment with federal and state policy, and strategic planning. Prior to that he served as Ohio's Associate Superintendent for Policy and Accountability, director of Accountability and Assessment for the Philadelphia Public Schools and head of curriculum and instructional programs for the Connecticut Public Schools. He currently sits on the NAEP Contextual Data Panel, and is a former member of the U.S. Department of Education's Growth Model Peer Review Panel. He lives in Bexley, Ohio.

Richard Laine has served as director of education for the Wallace Foundation since 2002. In this role he is responsible for the Foundation's national effort to strengthen educational leadership and the conditions under which education leaders work. He currently leads the team overseeing a $300 million leadership initiative being implemented in 24 states, including Massachusetts. Prior to joining the Wallace Foundation he served as education director for the Illinois Business Roundtable, and Associate Superintendent for the Illinois State Board of Education. He lives in Maplewood, New Jersey.

Finalist interviews will be publicly conducted on January 7 at the Omni Parker House. Each candidate will be interviewed by the Board and by a group of 25 people including Department of Education employees, legislators, and representatives of key stakeholder groups.

The Board is expected to vote to name the state's next Commissioner no later than their scheduled January 22 meeting.



Last Updated: December 19, 2007
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