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Editorial: New state school leader must be bold

May 15, 2019 by

Kalamazoo Superintendent Michael Rice

Kalamazoo Superintendent Michael Rice (Photo: Michigan State Board of Education)

Congratulations to newly appointed Michigan Superintendent Michael Rice. We wish him the best as he gets underway leading the state Department of Education.

The job will not be easy, given Michigan’s shortfalls in student performance and school accountability.

Rice, who has served as Kalamazoo Public Schools superintendent since 2007, was one of three finalists, including Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency Superintendent Randy Liepa and Ann Arbor Superintendent Jeanice Swift. More than 50 had applied for the job.

Rice replaces Sheila Alles, who had filled in the past year following the death of former Superintendent Brian Whiston last May.

The State Board of Education chose Rice on Tuesday in a 5-3 decision. It’s worth noting that the two Republicans voted for Liepa.

Rice must now translate his experience leading a district to leading the state. While Kalamazoo has a diverse student population, one of Rice’s top priorities will be addressing the range of concerns districts face — from rural ones to urban.

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