Kentucky Hires New Education Commissioner

By: Sarah Goebel Email
By: Sarah Goebel Email

Kentucky has a new education commissioner, but not without controversy.

The State Board of Education met in closed session in Bowling Green, Ky., for more than four hours on May 9, 2007. The meeting decided who would be the next leader in Kentucky's education.

The State Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Barbara Erwin for the role of education commissioner.

"We think this is probably one of the most critical decisions we make as a board and we want to be sure we are satisfied with the results of that decision," said Keith Travis, a State Board of Education member.

Erwin has an education background in Illinois.

The Education Board received several resumes from applicants all over the U.S. Those applicants were narrowed to three finalists.

"The search firm received resumes and applications from throughout the country. They did some screenings and narrowed that number. Then they brought that to the search committee of the board," Travis explained.

Hiring a search firm is where many people say the board went wrong. When the board narrowed down the applicants to Erwin, many reports surfaced questioning her ability to do the job and her ethics.

"I prefer not to discuss the details of the issues we resolved," Travis mentioned.

"Things on my resume do check out and I have presented the evidence concerning the awards in Texas that were attributed and won," Erwin said.

Erwin also said she doesn't feel the reports against her will effect her ability to do the job.

"I do believe I have the skills and the experience necessary to do that to work collaboratively with superintendents, principals and teachers," Erwin said.

Now the board and Erwin plan to move on to bettering Kentucky education.

"We want, our intentions are to be the first state to reach proficiency in the nation," Travis explained.

One of the first things Erwin plans to do to reach that goal is to visit each district and meet every superintendent in Kentucky.

Erwin will begin her role as education commissioner on July 16, 2007.

Erwin's contract is for four years and her salary will be $220,000 a year.

The decision to hire a new commissioner came after the previous commissioner, Gene Wilhoit took a job in Washington D.C. last year.

To find out more about Barbara Erwin and Kentucky's Board of Education, log onto their website at

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