Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran has created a new high-level post in the Department of Education to deal with some of the state’s most high profile education initiatives, including the expansion of school choice.
Eric Hall, who grew up in Tampa and holds several University of South Florida degrees, will become the state’s first chancellor for innovation. The news was first announced by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, where Hall had been deputy state superintendent of innovation for just less than a year.
He spent the year before that running the state’s Innovative School District, which oversees one struggling elementary school that has been taken over by an outside operator. Before that, Hall led Communities in Schools North Carolina for four years — Florida Senate leaders have said they want to expand the state’s community schools initiatives — and served as the national director of education services for AMIKids for eight years.
“He was recruited specifically for this position,” Florida DOE spokeswoman Meghan Collins said. “It was a very clear and unique opportunity to bring in someone with high level experience. We’re excited about him joining us.”
Collins did not have a detailed job description for the chancellor post. She said Hall will earn $160,000 a year.
In its announcement, the North Carolina department stated that Hall will “focus on implementation of top education priorities such as workforce and computer science education, expanding school choice, K-12 standards and more.” It quoted Corcoran as saying, “Throughout his career, Dr. Hall has shown his dedication to student success and to using innovative strategies to spread that success in support of public schools.”
A blogger for NC Policy Watch, a nonpartisan group, wrote that Hall’s departure from the North Carolina department came as little surprise, with the staff there experiencing a great deal of turnover. Another North Carolina blogger, writing for Caffeinated Rage, complained, though, that Hall would depart so soon after arriving, and just shortly after making a speech about how teachers and leaders should stay for the long haul.
Hall could not be reached for comment.
In an profile interview with Walter Magazine, Hall said paying teachers competitively is a critical issue for educational excellence, as is keeping parents and communities informed and involved in the schools.
“The biggest social problem would be to break the cycle of poverty,” he said in the interview. “The best way to do that is to provide good quality education for children starting early on and all the way to graduation.”
In an editorial for WRAL, Hall further stressed that creating flexible models for seeking academic improvement is only a part of the puzzle.
“Improvement can only be realized in the presence of high expectations for learning, strong school leadership and effective educators supporting the needs of students,” he wrote, adding that the provision of other services to meet students’ non-academic needs is critical. “By addressing these types of barriers, we create the opportunity for students to enter the classroom ready to learn and empower teachers to teach and school leaders to lead."