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National Governors Association Picks Gregoire as Chair

As occurs after every election, Washington's policymaking organizations are doing a leadership shuffle. One influential group, the National Governors Association, announced today that Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire will take over as the organization's chair.

Gregoire, a Democrat in her second term in office, has received attention for her state's efforts to improve higher education, particulary through its community college system. But she's also been fairly active in K-12 policy in recent years.

She supported changes to give her state more power to intervene in failing schools, a decision that had previously been left to local officials. Her state did not fare well in the federal Race to the Top competition (not that they were alone in losing out on that funding) and state officials took some heat from those who said they wrongly favored building consensus over trying to push for more dramatic changes in teacher evaluation and other areas.

The western-state governor says she will continue an NGA effort called "Complete to Compete," which seeks to boost college degree completion, and the overall productivity of higher ed institutions. She takes over the NGA role at a time when many states are bleeding financially, as she acknowledged in a statement.

"The current economy makes this a very challenging time to govern," she said. "[We] must make tough choices for our states. Together, we will continue to look at ways to deliver services in a more cost effective and efficient way."

Gregoire replaces outgoing West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin as NGA chair. Manchin is leaving his state job to join the U.S. Senate, after winning his campaign for federal office a couple weeks ago.

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