Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Education Head Takes Expertise to Think Tank; the State Superintendent Leaves Behind a Legacy of Credibility and Much Improved Graduation Rates

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Education Head Takes Expertise to Think Tank; the State Superintendent Leaves Behind a Legacy of Credibility and Much Improved Graduation Rates

Article excerpt

Byline: WALTER C. JONES

ATLANTA - State Superintendent Kathy Cox announced Monday she is resigning to take a post with a new advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., leaving nearly every statewide office with no elected incumbent on the November ballot.

Cox is leaving in the final six months of her second term to become the first head of the U.S Delivery Institute, a private foundation that seeks to advise schools on ways to boost student performance.

She had served two terms in the state House when she first ran for superintendent in 2002. A former high school teacher, she said Monday that her success is a lesson to her former students who convinced her to enter politics.

"I have proven that regular people can get elected," she said, "and regular people can stay elected, and regular people can serve with dignity and not produce scandalous headlines."

The departing superintendent leaves June 30. She said her leaving won't harm the state's attempt for the Race to the Top federal grant of $400 million because her senior staff will remain in place. Monday morning, she met with representatives of Georgia's education groups to gain support for the application.

Such bipartisan outreach will serve her in her new job as a Republican dealing with a Democratic administration. She credits the Delivery Institute's decision to hire her to the achievements reached in Georgia during her tenure, including raising graduation rates from 63 percent to 79 and boosting an additional 19,000 black students to graduate each year. Also under her watch, the state adopted tougher graduation requirements and tougher courses for all grades.

"I feel like this job was designed for me," she told reporters at an afternoon news conference.

Georgia Association of Educators President attended the press conference and applauded her achievements.

"She brought credibility back to the Department of Education," he said.

Cox succeeded Linda Schrenko, who is serving time in federal prison for stealing money from the department. …

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