Education commissioner Mike Hanley stepping down

Mike Hanley. (Photo from state of Alaska)
Mike Hanley. (Photo from state of Alaska)

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Mike Hanley is stepping down as Alaska’s education commissioner. Governor Bill Walker announced the leadership change in a press release Thursday morning.

Hanley says it was the decision of the Governor and the State Board of Education, who said they want to steer the Department in a new direction.

“I believe there are some things around the board’s new strategic plan. I worked with them to develop that,” Hanley said. “There’s three primary goals: modernizing education, honoring local control, and recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers. We’ve begun to put some meat on that, and I assume they’ve got somebody else in mind that they would like to help lead in that direction.”

This month marks five years Hanley has been education commissioner. He’s a holdover from former Governor Sean Parnell’s administration.

And in recent months Hanley and the Department have been criticized for what many see as the failure of the state’s new Alaska Measures of Progress assessment. Hanley says he’d be surprised if that didn’t play some part in the Governor and the Board’s decision.

“You know, I look back at when we put AMP in place; we went through the procurement process, and things happened with the vendor that basically made it really difficult for them to follow through. And it caused a lot of frustration,” Hanley said. “I don’t know that we could have foreseen any of that. But it happened on my watch, so I own that. There’s a frustration that we all have — some of it’s with AAI, and some people have it with me — so that surely could be a part of the conversation.”

Board of Education Chair James Fields told KDLG this morning that Hanley’s resignation has no “direct tie” to the AMP controversy.

Hanley will stay on board until March 1, when Dr. Susan McCauley will take over as interim Commissioner.

McCauley currently leads the Department’s Teaching and Learning Support Division. She previously taught in Hooper Bay and was principal and administrator in the Mat-Su School District.