Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has named a replacement for former Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona, who was approved by the Senate to join President Joe Biden’s Cabinet this week.
Lamont announced this week that he has accepted the recommendation of the Connecticut State Board of Education to appoint Charlene Russell-Tucker to serve as acting commissioner of the Connecticut State Department of Education.
Cardona officially resigned on Tuesday, March 2 following his appointment by the U.S. Senate to be the country’s Education Secretary, and Russell-Tucker was appointed the following day.
“The strength of Connecticut’s future is dependent upon the strength of our schools today, and that is why our administration has set such strong goals when it comes to improving outcomes for our next generation so they are prepared to fill jobs that lead them through successful careers,” Lamont said.
Russell-Tucker is a veteran educator with more than 20 years of experience teaching and administrating. Lamont noted that she will lead on an interim basis until a permanent appointment is made. She previously served as a deputy commissioner, where “she has been responsible for overseeing educational supports and wellness priorities.”
“An educator herself, Charlene has a lot of experience working with school districts across Connecticut, which is why I believe her appointment to this position will seamlessly aid the state’s education goals during this transition period,” he said. “I appreciate her willingness to take on this leadership role.”
Officials highlighted Russell-Tucker’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that she has been vocal in supporting student attendance and safe engagement as schools have conducted hybrid or remote learning.
In a joint statement, State Board of Education Chair Allan Taylor and Vice-Chair Estela Lopez called Russell-Tucker “a well-respected national influencer on education policy.”
“We can think of no one more qualified to take the reins of the agency than Charlene Russell-Tucker who has done so much to put the spotlight on Connecticut in terms of spearheading the improvement of culture and climate and social-emotional learning in our schools,” they said.
“Charlene possesses the track record, experience, and equity lens necessary to direct the delivery of high quality, accessible educational experiences, services, and programs that provide the foundations for positive school and life outcomes for all students.”
Before becoming deputy commissioner in November 2019, Russell-Tucker served as a chief operating officer and division chief for the State Department of Education’s Office of Student Supports and Organizational Effectiveness. She also served as associate commissioner of education and bureau chief.
Russell-Tucker also taught for more than 15 years and is a former adjunct faculty member at Albertus Magnus College School of New Dimensions.
In 2015, Russell-Tucker was named to the inaugural class of 100 Women of Color in Connecticut. In 2018, she was welcomed to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s Council of Champions.
“I am humbled and grateful to Governor Lamont and the State Board of Education for placing their confidence in me to serve Connecticut’s students, families, and educators in this role,” Russell-Tucker stated.
“I will use this opportunity to continue to advance the work of the agency and our educational partners to ensure a seamless transition once a permanent commissioner is named.”
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