Many vie to become state’s next education chief

Almost two dozen candidates have applied to become Connecticut’s next education commissioner. Members of the State Board of Education and the governor’s staff plan to interview six people over the next couple of weeks.

“I thought we got a very strong field,” said Allan B. Taylor, chair of the State Board of Education. “It would be lovely if we could get someone in by April.”

The last time the state looked for an education commissioner, few applied, and the state had to extend the deadline.

The job announcement this time around sought applicants with a long background and an advanced degree in education – qualifications the last commissioner did not have and which one of the state’s teachers’ unions called for during the campaign.

“Preferred experience includes a minimum of 10 years in a high-level educational leadership role, and an advanced degree in education,” reads the announcement posted by the panel.

The last state education commissioner, Stefan Pryor, had a law degree, a background in economic development and experience opening a charter school. The relationship between teachers and the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy fractured in 2012 after Malloy and Pryor proposed several controversial initiatives to change teacher evaluations, tenure and collective bargaining in the lowest-performing schools.