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State board appoints Richard Crandall, former Arizona lawmaker, as next education commissioner

Richard Crandall (left) makes a cameo appearance before the state's joint education committee (Todd Engdahl/Chalkbeat).
Richard Crandall (left) makes a cameo appearance before the state's joint education committee (Todd Engdahl/Chalkbeat).

The State Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to appoint former Arizona lawmaker Richard Crandall as Colorado’s next education commissioner.

Crandall, 48, was the sole finalist for the position. He will begin on Jan. 19 and be paid $255,000 a year. Crandall’s predecessor, Robert Hammond, drew a salary of $245,000 annually.

Considered to be a moderate Republican, Crandall played a key role in ushering in major changes to education policy in Arizona, including backing the state’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and crafting a teacher evaluation law.

He also served briefly as chief of schools in Wyoming before the state Supreme Court found the position unconstitutional.

Crandall is poised to begin work in Colorado at a critical juncture, as a rewrite of the nation’s signature education law shifts responsibilities away from the federal government to states.

The commissioner works not under a formal contract but a “letter of engagement” that spells out the terms of employment, board chairman Steve Durham said. One wrinkle to Crandall’s arrangement, which still must be finalized: He may work remotely one or two Fridays a month while pursuing a doctorate in education from Northern Arizona University.

Longtime administrator Elliott Asp has served as interim commissioner since Hammond’s retirement last summer.

Click here to read more about the board’s selection of Crandall, and here to read our interview about his background and positions on critical issues facing K-12 education.

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