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Kotek Announces New Education Advisors, Leaders of Statewide Education Initiatives – Oregon Capital Chronicle

Two women dedicated to improving K-12 student achievement and promoting early learning statewide will serve in Governor-Elect Tina Kotek’s office.

Kotek announced her new education leadership staff in a statement Friday, along with several other new appointments to key leadership positions. The announcement also included news of the retirement of Oregon Department of Education Secretary Colt Gill, 56, who has led the department for the past five years and will retire at the end of June. A nationwide search for a replacement will soon be underway, according to Kotek’s office.

Melissa Gough, former superintendent of schools and deputy secretary of the Oregon School Board Association, will serve as Cotec’s educational advisor. Gov. Kate Brown’s consultant and former education policy adviser, Pooja Bhatt, will serve as education initiatives director on the newly created policy initiatives team. The team will focus on addressing education, behavioral health and housing issues, Kotec said in a statement.

“I am grateful to have on my team strong leaders who are ready to tackle three of our state’s biggest challenges,” she said.

Cotec Said She will increase funding for Oregon schools to address learning losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, do more to improve student achievement in struggling school districts, and support Oregon Education I want the Department to hold school districts accountable for poor student performance. Oregon students lag in reading and other core subjects, according to recent state and national student evaluation results.

New Education Advisor

Goff will work to coordinate work across the state’s K-12 educational institutions and focus on early learning initiatives, according to a statement. As an advisor, she will also serve as a liaison between school districts, education sector leaders and the governor.

Melissa Goff (Greater Albany Public Schools)

After working for the Oregon School Board Association for just three months, Goff was offered a job as an educational advisor by Cotec. At the Association of School Boards, she worked primarily on updating the group’s strategic plan and diversity and equity initiatives, executive director Jim Green told the Capital Chronicle.

He said he had no intention of losing his deputy anytime soon, but was not surprised by the appointment.

“It wasn’t a shock to me given her experience and knowledge base. That’s why I hired her,” he said.

Goff is a teacher, building manager, and most recently superintendent of Greater Albany Public Schools. The local school board terminated her contract in 2021 for no reason after newly elected members opposed mask mandates and her fair job, she said. in an interview in the Capital Chronicle at the time. It was one of several high-profile dismissals of the Oregon School District superintendent by the school board, which was then a new member. She has also served as Superintendent of Philomas School District and Assistant Superintendent of Portland Public Schools. According to Green, her experience in urban and rural schools, as well as her experience in various capacities, set her apart.

“Having someone with such a deep and broad educational experience is valuable to governors and schools and districts across the state,” he said.

New education policy leader

Bhatt will focus on improving student performance, according to a Kotek statement. These are typically measured as graduation rates measured by state and federal assessment tests, post-secondary school enrollment rates, attendance rates, reading comprehension, and math and science comprehension.

Pooja Bat (SeeChange)

In 2019, Bhatt co-founded SeeChange, a Portland-based consultancy that works with school districts, local governments, and even the Oregon Department of Education on educational equity and inclusion initiatives and policies. . She served as Brown’s policy advisor during the 2019 Legislative Session, addressing education budget priorities. Prior to that, she served as Senior Policy Advisor to the City of Portland for nearly three years. She worked as an early learning manager for the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette. She has also conducted research and policy work for the Service Employees International Union, SEIU Local 503, the state’s largest union of public service and health workers.

Bhatt holds a master’s degree in public policy with a focus on education and social policy from the University of Michigan.

Leaving Colt Gill

Gil is Five years as Director of the Oregon Department of Education He also oversaw the pandemic response of a K-12 public school in Oregon and the closure of a building where students had been learning online for over a year. Prior to that, in 2016 Kate was appointed Governor Brown as an Innovation Officer to help improve graduation rates across the state. Between 2016 and 2020, Oregon’s graduation rate he rose 3%, but fell about 2% in 2021. He is also a teacher and superintendent of several Central Oregon school districts.

Colt Gill, Director of Education
Colt Gill (Amanda Lohmann/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

In a statement, Cotec praised Gil for increasing graduation rates, guiding schools through the pandemic, and helping create and advance the Student Success Act, the state’s largest investment in public education in 30 years. Did.

“Colt Gill has a reputation as a strong advocate for equity in education and has helped make our school more inclusive for all Oregon students,” said Kotek. I’m here.

He will remain in that role until the end of the 2023 legislative session, which is scheduled to end in the last week of June, according to a statement. Kotek said the search for his replacement is underway soon.

In a statement sent to educators statewide, Gill said serving as director of the state education department was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I am very much looking forward to retiring after 34 years teaching in Oregon, but I know I will miss this job. I will miss working under the elect’s leadership,” he wrote.

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