What’s Everyone Saying About Murphy’s Pick For Education Commissioner?

Many media outlets have reports today on Gov. Phil Murphy’s nomination of Angelica Allen-McMillan for Education Commissioner, five months after Lamont Repollet’s resignation. (Chief DOE Finance Officer Kevin Dehmer has been filling in.) Here are the highlights:

Politico:

Angelica Allen-McMillian would be taking over “a beleaguered” DOE as coronavirus cases climb, “threatening students’ learning environments and casting doubt on superintendents’ best-laid plans for the next marking period.” The nominee had brave words: “As we continue to close the digital divide, as well as mitigate learning losses as much as possible, I ask you to remember that this is not as formidable as our resolve and definitely not indomitable when challenged by our effort.”

But COVID-19 is pretty formidable. Carly Sitrin, who broke the story about the nominationn Monday night, notes that “tens of thousands of students are without consistent internet connectivity or access to a device for remote learning.” (Oddly/tragically [to NJLB] the state DOE hasn’t ben able to figure out how many students are cut off from instruction, eight months after schools were shuttered in mid-March.) “’We are working to collect updated info on the digital divide,’ Mike Yaple, a DOE spokesperson, said.”

Senator Teresa Ruiz, chair of the Senate Education Committee, released a statement saying she was ready to work with Allen-McMillan  “to reimagine the Department of Education and transform it into a true beacon of hope and repository of answers for students, teachers and parents.”

(NJLB readers know the Senator was not a big fan of Repollet’s 64 Floor philosophy of lowering standards and eschewing accountability.)

Mount Olive Superintendent Robert Zywicki, in an interview with Sitrin, remarked that Allen-McMillan “is walking into…an exhausted population of teachers and school administrators who are in desperate need of communication and direction from the Department of Education.”

NJEA leaders support her nomination. Allen-McMillan is a former Montclair school board member. NJEA Veep Sean Spiller is the Mayor of Montclair.  

Harry Lee, president of the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association, said in an email that his organization “stands ready to partner with the new commissioner.”

NJ Spotlight:

Senator Teresa Ruiz is supportive: “I am hopeful we can collaborate to create a comprehensive plan that recognizes the disparities in our education system and embraces policies that bridge the learning divide.”

Advance Media

On why Murphy waited so long to appoint a replacement for Repollet: “We wanted to get it as right as we could,” Murphy said Tuesday. “Angelica is a star, and we conducted a very thorough review, interviewing and vetting process… It was worth any amount of time extra to get someone of her qualifications.”

Tapinto:

“From day one, I pledged to select a Commissioner of Education with experience in public education. We fulfilled that promise through the nomination of Dr. Repollet, and maintain that promise today,” said Governor Murphy. “A product of New Jersey’s public schools, Angelica has worked at all levels of education and knows exactly what our teachers and students need to succeed. She is an exemplary educator and I’m confident she is the leader we need to carry our school communities through the remainder of this pandemic and beyond.”

North Jersey:

“The agency’s chief financial officer, Kevin Dehmer, stepped in at a time when schools had little direction from the state on how to plan for the new year and hundreds of thousands of students lacked computers or access to the internet for remote learning.” 

NJEA:

“Dr. Allen-McMillan is taking the helm of America’s premier public school system. We can maintain that excellence and build upon it by continuing to invest in public education, respect educators and prioritize student success. We trust that, as an experienced educator herself, the commissioner shares those priorities and will work alongside us to lead new Jersey’s public schools to even greater success and even better outcomes for the students we educate.”

What do you think?

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