Rudy Crew, the former head of schools in New York City, Miami, Sacramento and Tacoma, is Gov. John Kitzhaber's choice to become Oregon's first "chief education officer."
That position would give Crewunprecedented power over the state's public universities, public schools, community colleges and early childhood programs. If a state panel awards him the job Thursday, as expected, his assignment will be to lead the effort to knit and reshape them into a more innovative, effective and seamless system.
The governor wants him to find a way to get far more students to graduate from high school and to earn college credentials -- without spending a whole lot more money to make it happen.
Crew, now 61 and an education professor at the University of Southern California, is best known for his time in the crucible of the nation's largest school district, with 1 million students and high-profile political pressure, including from the mayor and the teacher's union. He is credited with innovations that improved results at the city's worst schools -- over which he sought and won more direct control -- and for raising curriculum standards across the district.
But he also has changed jobs and cities frequently during his 40 years in education, leaving many posts after just two years. His longest stint was in Sacramento, where he was assistant superintendent and then superintendent for a total of six years.
He was ousted from the New York job after five years for clashing with then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and the Miami-Dade County school board fired him after four years over conflicts about money and other matters.