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Smarick for NJ Education Commissioner?

It's all speculation at this point, but the New Jersey Star-Ledger is reporting that Gov. Chris Christie is considering tapping former Thomas B. Fordham Institute analyst Andy Smarick to serve as the state's next education commissioner.

The paper cites two sources close to the administration as saying Smarick is the governor's favored choice.

The Republican governor has named Rochelle Hendricks, an assistant commissioner with the education department, to serve as acting chief in the wake of New Jersey's costly error on its state Race to the Top application, and the subsequent hubbub that led to commissioner Bret Schundler's firing. But Christie also said he would conduct a national search for a full-time replacement.

Not surprisingly, the folks at Fordham like the idea of Commissioner Smarick, describing him as smart and non-ideological. For background, see my colleague Michele McNeil's item about Smarick, which she wrote when he left Fordham for New Jersey back in May. Smarick was an oft-quoted source on all things Race to the Top when he was at the think tank, where he worked as a fellow. He previously served in the U.S. Department of Education under George W. Bush.

Meanwhile, not all the Race to the Top news is dour for New Jersey. The state is participating in two coalitions of states that were awarded a share of $330 million to develop assessments through the competition.

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