Governor-elect Terry Branstad says he wanted to “break the mold,” so he’s asked a man who’s never been a superintendent to lead the Iowa Department of Education. 

Jason Glass, who is 39, has worked in the Colorado Department of Education and is leaving a job at a private, non-profit group based in Ohio to become Iowa’s education director.

“He’s a reformer who’s interested in all parties working together to chart a new course to restore leadership in education in Iowa,” Branstad said during an afternoon news conference staged to announcing his hiring decision. 

Glass admits this is a big opportunity for him. “While Iowa schools have always been a source of pride and a catalyst to the state’s economic prosperity, it’s always important to remember if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse,” Glass said during the news conference.  “It’s not just the rest of the nation that Iowa’s kids have to compete with now.  It’s the rest of the world.”

Glass said he’s ready to “leverage” improvements in the way students and teachers perform in the classroom.

“I think it’s unfortunate that in the debate over education reform in this country we put people in two camps.  You’re either an agent of the status quo and you want to stop any kind of change at all or you’re an education reformer who is bent on destroying public education in the way we know it. I think there’s really a lot of common ground,” Glass said.  “…Once we agree on the problems…we can work together to overcome those.”

During his previous, 16-year run as governor Branstad chose directors for the Iowa Department of Education who had been superintendents. “So I thought we should try to break the mold and try something different,” Branstad told reportes. 

According to Branstad, he was on the hunt for a reformer and Glass has that kind of a background. Glass must win the support of 34 state senators to confirmed to the post.

Listen  to the Glass announcemnet here: Glass 22:12 MP3