Tennessee Board Of Education Chief Announces Retirement

Tennessee Board of Education executive director Gary Nixon was appointed to the position by the board (whose members are appointed by the governor) in September 2004, under then-Governor Phil Bredesen. Credit: Nashville Chamber

Tennessee Board of Education executive director Gary Nixon was appointed to the position by the board (whose members are appointed by the governor) in September 2004, under then-Governor Phil Bredesen. Credit: Nashville Chamber

The executive director of Tennessee’s state Board of Education announced Friday he’ll retire at the end of the year after serving in that post under two governors and during a period of rapid reform.

The state board of education creates and carries out the polices governing public schools around the state, which often entails following through for new education laws created by the legislature.  Gary Nixon has been around for massive changes in education – though he was not always vocally supportive. They include the expansion of charter schools, the end to collective bargaining for teachers and the implementation of Common Core.

Without naming specific reforms, he encouraged the appointed members of the board to stay the course.

“I just hope that before I die I’ll have an opportunity to sit down with my grandchildren and tell them that I was a member of the team that made these wonderful things come to life. I sure hope I don’t have to wait for my great grandchildren to tell them that.”

While Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman is known for being a reformer who doesn’t mind ruffling feathers, Nixon is less ideological and well liked in most education circles. He started his career as a chemistry teacher in Cumberland County 43 years ago.

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