Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday tapped a Tucson school superintendent and a Paradise Valley teacher to serve on the state Board of Education.
Calvin Baker, who heads the Vail Unified School District, will fill the slot reserved for the superintendent of a high school district. He replaces Roger Jacks of the Kingman Unified School District who was put on the board in 2012 by Ducey predecessor Jan Brewer.
Janice Mak, a STEM teacher in the Paradise Valley Unified School District, was named to the position that, by law, has to be filled by a public school teacher. She succeeds Amy Hamilton, who had finished two terms on the board.
Both appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.
The move comes just a day after Greg Miller resigned not only as president of the board but entirely from the 11-member panel following more than a year of public disputes with state schools chief Diane Douglas. That creates another vacancy that Ducey will have to fill with someone who is the administrator of a charter school.
Dawn Wallace, the governor’s education adviser, said the two actions are unrelated.
But Wallace told Capitol Media Services that the new appointees are part of Ducey’s desire for “fresh leadership.” And she said there are important new standards being developed in the next six months.
“You need to have collaboration with the department (of education), you need to have people talking and being thoughtful and getting public comment,” Wallace explained. She said when there is tension between the board and the department, “none of that work happens.”
Wallace said Baker was chosen because of the record he created in Vail.
“His district is an A-rated district,” she said.
And Wallace said Baker has distinguished himself in creating the “Beyond Textbooks” program that creates curriculum, lesson plans and standards of what teachers should teach and students should learn. That not only helped raised performance in Vail but has now gone online to where it is shared with more than 13,000 teachers throughout the region and 140,000 students.
Wallace said he has excellent relationships not just with the traditional education community but also with others outside the system because “he runs a bunch of charter schools.” She also noted that Baker is part of a task force seeking to reform the system of funding schools.
Mak specializes in teaching science, technology, engineering and math, Wallace said, and was a finalist for “teacher of the year.” She also chairs a subcommittee working with the Department of Education to create new math standards.
Wallace said Mak’s STEM background was a key reason the governor chose her.
“This is a nice segue in where we want the board to go,” she said.
“We really want to start to emphasize these programs that are linked to student success but also to economic development,” Wallace said. She said the governor knows more children need to have STEM skills “because we know those are the jobs that are waiting for them.”
Douglas, who was informed by the governor of the new appointments, appeared pleased.
“I look forward to working with both of them as we consider several important policy decisions in the coming months and years,” she said in a prepared statement.