Friday, May 11, 2007

New trouble for Commissioner of Education selection

There are newly discovered discrepancies in Barbara Irwin's accounts of her background.

The controversy over Barbara Irwin, the candidate selected by the Kentucky Board of Education in a unanimous vote for Commissioner of Education for the state on Wednesday, is not going to go away. The School Board's decision has set off a firestorm of controversy over whether Irwin is qualified for the post given discrepancies in accounts of her background in application documents. There are newly uncovered discrepancies in Ms. Irwin's accounts of her background.

Earlier discrepancies uncovered in her resume included the following:
  • Irwin had claimed in her application documents that she had made presentations to a school boards conference in Illinois, when, in fact, she was only a part of a school boards association that made the presentations.
  • Irwin claimed that she had twice been "superintendent of the year" in Texas, in 1997 and 1998. As it turns out, she did not receive that designation in 1998, but only a nomination from her state for the national superintendent of the year in 1999.
  • There was also a simple typo in the title of an academic honors society she was elected to.
But here's a new one, discovered by Richard Innes at the Bluegrass Institute: Irwin lists on her resume that she served on the executive committee of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) from 1991-2001. This is incorrect. Kathi Levine, Director of Governance for AASA, confirmed to us yesterday that, after researching the dates Erwin served on the Executive committee, it appears to them that she served from July 1, 1999 –June 30 2002, not 1991-2001 as she listed.

In other words, it appears Irwin has falsely claimed to have served on the executive committee of an organization for ten years, when she she only served three years.

This selection appears to be dead on arrival. The Kentucky School Board needs to reconvene given the new information on Irwin. Otherwise, they will have a Commissioner of Education for the state who will begin her tenure with little or no credibility. That can't possibly move the state forward on education.

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