Education

The Kentucky Board of Education has named Jason Glass as commissioner of education, the state’s top K-12 education official. As commissioner, Glass will lead the 1,000 employees at the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), and oversee the state’s public schools, which serve 648,000 students.

“I’m so incredibly grateful for this opportunity to serve the Commonwealth, and I’m excited to embark on this effort to improve the future for all of Kentucky’s children,” Glass said to the board during a special meeting Friday.

“Our world has become faster, more globally interconnected, more competitive — and these things are not slowing down — they are accelerating,” Glass said. “We have to adapt our education system so that we prepare our students to meet those challenges.”

He also commended the board for passing a resolution during the meeting committing itself to racial justice and equity.

“As your commissioner, I want you to hear this clearly, that I’m committed to taking on this important work of anti-racism and equity within all of Kentucky’s public schools,” he said.

This will not be Glass’s first time leading a state school system. The Brandenburg, Ky. native served as Iowa’s chief state school officer from 2010 to 2013. During his tenure, he pushed through reforms to Iowa’s teacher career pathways, beginning what are known as “teacher career ladders.”

According to EdWeek, those reforms allowed districts to pick out “model,” “mentor” and “lead” teachers to take on new responsibilities during parts of their day, such as coaching other teachers and planning professional development. These teachers receive additional pay for leadership roles.

Just as the reforms passed the Iowa legislature in 2013, Glass announced he was leaving to lead a small school district of 7,000 students in Eagle County, Co. In 2017,  he went onto serve as superintendent of Jeffco Public Schools, a district of 84,000 near Denver.

According to KDE, Glass started his career as a social studies teacher for Hazard Independent School District, where he also coached football and track.

In addition, Glass has worked for the Colorado Department of Education and Battelle for Kids, an education non-profit. He has a doctorate in education leadership from Seton Hall University. He went to the University of Kentucky for his master’s degrees in political science and education, and a bachelor’s in political science and history.

Glass was up against two other finalists for the role of commissioner: Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Assistant Superintendent Felicia Cumings Smith and Julian Vasquez Heilig, dean of the College of Education at the University of Kentucky.

He replaces outgoing interim education commissioner Kevin Brown. KBE members appointed Brown in December after they ousted former commissioner Wayne Lewis. Lewis had been appointed under a previous board, which was dissolved and replaced by Gov. Andy Beshear when he took office in December.

Brown has said he plans to return to his role as general counsel for JCPS.

Jess Clark is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.