The Kentucky Board of Education will name a new state commissioner Friday. Here's a look at two of the four finalists. The others were profiled on Wednesday.
Catherine Cross Maple
Cross Maple is one of two deputy secretaries in the New Mexico department, each with specific duties. She is responsible for learning and accountability.
Cross Maple oversees daily operations of seven divisions, with more than 500 employees. Her responsibilities include developing plans for closing achievement gaps in New Mexico schools, and she designed the first strategic plan for the state's public education system. She also has been assistant secretary for vocational rehabilitation in New Mexico.
Before joining state government, Cross Maple held several posts with the Albuquerque Public Schools, where she was a strategic planning officer, director of organizational planning and development, and director of student support services. She revised implementation of Albuquerque's truancy plan; developed new counseling standards and trained schools in using them; and guided development of dropout prevention efforts.
Joe Guillen, executive director the New Mexico Schools Boards Association, says Cross Maple has been a highly visible force for education in the state.
"She's pretty much on the front line. She handles accountability, which really has been in the public eye for some time," Guillen said. "During legislative sessions she's often there, filling in for the education secretary."
Guillen credits Cross Maple with maintaining good relations with local school districts while still pushing accountability.
"The public education department is responsible for making sure we all meet standards, but she tries to balance that with a cooperative approach," he said. "She attended a whole host of regional meetings that we conducted around the state, explaining the accountability process to school board members and answering questions."
Cross Maple also has taught undergraduate courses at the University of New Mexico, and held teaching posts at the University of Nevada and in the Washoe County, Nev., schools.
A magna cum laude graduate of Montana State University, she has a master's from the University of Nevada, and a Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico. Cross Maple was a finalist for superintendent of public instruction in Ohio last year.
Sentance's extensive educational experience has been through work as a government official, advisor and bureaucrat. He is the only Kentucky commissioner candidate who lists no teaching experience on his résumé.
Sentance is a lawyer by training, with law degrees from both Duquesne University and Boston University. After completing his education, he spent more than 20 years in various Massachusetts state government posts. It is this work that led him into education.
Sentance advised three Republican governors on education matters. But he also was an assistant under a Democratic attorney general in Massachusetts, and he was legal counsel to Democratic Lt. Gov. Thomas P. O'Neill III, son of U.S. House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill.
Sentance's other posts in Massachusetts included state secretary of education, director of the Governor's Legislative Office, and state undersecretary for education, policy, and planning.
He wrote several educational initiatives; helped design the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act; and chaired various panels overseeing education reform and school-district performance. He also didn't hesitate to criticize educators whose efforts didn't measure up.
In a Boston Herald story, Sentance described the superintendent of one troubled district as the "captain of a ship that has a hole in it ... and he's up on deck passing out champagne." He said another problem district was like "a scull on the Charles River with everyone rowing in different directions."
But Sentance also drew criticism from some Massachusetts teacher groups, which accused him of backing charter schools that they said sucked money and students away from public schools.
Sentance became New England representative for the federal education department in 2001, holding that post until the Bush administration left office. He visited hundreds of schools, passed out millions in federal education grants, and held countless meetings with state legislative panels, education associations and other groups.
Those sessions weren't always cordial. After Congress passed Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, Sentance sometimes faced hostile questioning from legislators and others unhappy with the measure, according to media reports.