Education reform: eight school chiefs to watch in 2011

3. Christopher Cerf, New Jersey

Republican Gov. Chris Christie has appointed Democrat Christopher Cerf to be new education commissioner in New Jersey because of his reform record as former deputy schools chancellor in New York. Mr. Cerf is just as willing as the governor to take on the state teachers' union, criticizing tenure and saying salary structures should give more weight to how well a teacher’s students are learning.

One of the former teacher’s top goals will be closing the what he calls the “shameful” achievement gap between “those born to economic circumstances that are positive and those born to poverty,” the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports. He wants to give parents more choice, give school leaders more autonomy, and find strong teachers to accomplish that.

Cerf must be approved by a state Senate committee.

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