Gendron leaving education department

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AUGUSTA – Maine Education Commissioner Susan A. Gendron is leaving her post at the end of April, Gov. John Baldacci announced Wednesday.

Deputy Commissioner Angela Faherty will be named acting commissioner.

The decision was announced in a press release issued by the governor’s office. The following are excerpts of the release.

“Sue has helped to build a culture in Maine that all students need to graduate ready for college, career and citizenship,” Baldacci said. “She does not accept that any of us have the right as educators, parents or politicians to decide some kids will never succeed or to lower our expectations for students. She has been a tremendous asset to the State, and I’m proud of the work she has done as Commissioner.”

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Gendron is leaving to become policy director for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a group of more than 35 states working to develop common assessments and to compete for a share of $350 million in federal Race to the Top education reform funds.

Gendron was sworn in as commissioner in March, 2003. During her tenure, Maine has joined with three other states to administer the New England Common Assessment Program, a common assessment for reading and mathematics.

As commissioner, Gendron expanded Maine’s laptop program, which has provided notebook computers to all Maine middle school students since 2002, making Maine the first and only state with a statewide one-to-one computing program. In 2005 Gendron worked with the governor and legislators to pass a new Essential Programs and Services formula, a funding education based on equitable resources for all students. It replaced the former model which was based on prior year spending.

Gendron has pushed for high standards and aspirations for students, Baldacci said. The number of high school students who have taken college courses has increased significantly. She’s also worked to oversee the implementation of School Administrative Reorganization, the most sweeping education restructuring in Maine since 1947. Under that, Maine reduced the number of school districts and streamlined operations so that more state and local tax dollars can go into programming, rather than to non-classroom operations.

Gendron has worked as classroom teacher at the elementary, middle and high school levels in literacy development, special education, and gifted and talented in the New York City, Missouri and Salt Lake City school systems.

She was assistant professor at the University of Northern Iowa and adjunct professor at the University of Southern Maine, St. Joseph’s College and Walden University.

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