But KSN&C has heard lots of questions and speculation about what happened...and what's next. Some have expressed surprise at Draud's resignation following the supportive assessment he received from the Kentucky Board of Education at their most recent meeting. But as things often go in politics, what the public sees is just the tip of the iceberg.
Since Draud's first days, some have been less than supportive of his administration. KDE can be a snake pit, and amid the speculation about his health it wasn't always easy to tell if some individuals were rooting for him or against him. Despite a consistent track record of supporting adequate funding for the schools, while in the legislature and as Commish, Draud carried that big R on his chest which may have contributed to the doubt some establishment insiders expressed.
Some KSN&C readers have wanted to know if the governor pushed him out. I have no clue, but doubt it.
The governor is on the record as wanting a national search. Shortly before his inauguration in December, Governor-elect Beshear asked members of the Kentucky Board of Education to delay the appointment of a new education commissioner in order to conduct another national search to the state’s top education leader. The first search had resulted in the disastrous selection of Barbara Erwin, who resigned before her first day as commissioner after discrepancies in her resume were revealed. Within days after requesting the state school board to extend its search for a new commissioner, the board named Draud, a Republican member of the Kentucky House of Representatives.
But when the smoke cleared, their philosophies seemed to match up fairly well and both Draud and Beshear worked to save education from serious cuts. Beshear probably continued to believe that a national search would have been the way to go, but I don't see any evidence that he actually tried to do anything about it.
Was there conversation about his future? You bet.
Within KDE, among educators in the field, and among members of the Kentucky Board of Education there was concern about Draud's vitality. The job requires a lot - and unfortunately, Draud had a stroke.
This from NKY.com:
EDGEWOOD - Jon Draud followed a neurologist's advice and heeded pleas from loved ones when he decided to step away from the career that long ago became a passion.
The longtime educator and former legislator from Edgewood announced Friday that he will resign as Kentucky's commissioner of education in early February.
"It was really a hard decision for me to make after serving in education for about 50 years," Draud said. "I wanted to provide some leadership in a difficult time. But, you know, when you start thinking about dying, then it puts everything in perspective."
The 70-year-old was a unanimous pick a year ago to take over as education commissioner, but he suffered a stroke in September that weakened his leg muscles. Draud has been working in Frankfort about three days a week and undergoing physical therapy the other two days.
He said he is about 80 percent recovered from the stroke.
"I've made a lot of progress, but I want to try and get back to 100 percent," he said. "That job requires 100 percent effort and I'm just not prepared to do that right now." ...
On hearing the news of the retirement, former superintendent Jack Moreland heaped praise on Draud.
"He's one of the absolute finest people that I know," said friend Jack Moreland, who spent 19 years as superintendent of Dayton Independent Schools and led Covington schools for eight years. "He bleeds education. His first thought is education. If you go back and trace his history, even when he was in the General Assembly, his fundamental focus ... was education." ...What happens next?
Well, already groups are lining up to offer their assistance in the selection of the next commissioner. The last time around, "the K groups" wanted a Kentucky Commissioner. It seems that that desire, having been satisfied, may not burn so brightly this time around, but they still want to participate in the process.
We can count on Governor Beshear reaffirming his belief that a national search should be conducted. And this board will be much better equipped to hear him.
Bob Sexton has said the pretty much the same thing: Consider state- but look national.
Not to be left out, KSN&C would be happy to contribute to the due diligence phase of the selection process - and would hapily give the Board the first peek at anything we discover. Heck, put us on the team and we'll even observe confidentiality. Perhaps the number of board members KSN&C hacked off during the Barbara Erwin affair is now low enough that they would welcome our humble assistance.
Photo by Rachel Stone: Kentucky Education Commissioner Dr. Jon Draud, a graduate of EKU, returned to his alma mater on April 8 to speak to Dr. Richard Day’s Educational Foundations class about current education-related issues in the Commonwealth. While on campus, he also met with President Whitlock and other education leaders to discuss how Eastern can help partner with the Kentucky Department of Education in building education leadership capacity in Kentucky.