Branstad’s education director: Jason Glass

Governor-elect Terry Branstad is holding a news conference early this afternoon to announce…drum roll,please…he’s asked Jason E. Glass to head the Iowa Department of Education.  An array of people from Iowa’s business and education communities were invited for the event. 

Branstad called Glass an “energetic reformer and a change agent.”  He comes from a family of teachers, according to Branstad, and he’s been working for the Ohio-based Battelle for Kids organization for the past few months.  Before that, Glass was an H.R. director for a school system in Colorado, overseeing 900 district employees according to the information from Branstad’s staff.   The district had 6000 students when Glass was there.

“This guy really wanted to get here the worst way,” Branstad joked,  telling the crowd Glass and his wife drove all the way from Concord, New Hampshire — through the blizzard — to get to Iowa.

“It’s always important to remember: if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse,” Glass said.  “…We have to recapture our sense of exploration, of boldness, of taking risks.”

As for training, hiring and retaining teachers: “We must pressure the system in every way we can.”

Glass said to those who label him an education reformer “in a derogatory way,” he pledged to work with business leaders as well as “talented and dedicated educators” to meet the challenges.

Branstad said one of the reasons he hired Glass was because “his focus is on achievement for students.”

Branstad, during his previous tenure as governor, hired people who had been superintendents/school administrators (like former Iowa Department of Education diectors Bill Lepley and Ted Stillwell who happened to come from the Council Bluffs Schools) to lead the agency, but Branstad said he wanted to “break the mold” because Iowa has been “too complacent for too long.”  Glass, who is 39, has never been a superintendent. 

“This is a big opportunity for me,” Glass said.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.