It got little notice and may not last all that long, but yesterday Kimberley Harrington finally won the full title that has gone with her job for nearly the past year: New Jersey’s commissioner of education.
Gov. Chris Christie announced late in the day that Harrington had been formally sworn in to the job she had held in an “acting” capacity for nine months, following the resignation of former commissioner David Hespe.
“Kimberley’s body of experience and deep devotion to providing New Jersey students with the highest-quality education make her a perfect choice to lead the Department of Education as commissioner,” Christie said in the announcement of the swearing-in yesterday.
“I am pleased to have her as part of my cabinet and working to strengthen educational opportunities for all New Jersey students.”
The swearing-in doesn’t change all that much; Harrington has been handling a host of responsibilities that span a broad array of education policy. She has been especially active of late in driving the state’s policies in regard to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
But the confirmation ends a political back-and-forth between Christie and the Democratic-led Legislature that had left Harrington in a limbo all too familiar to the job. Former commissioners Lucille Davy, Chris Cerf, and Rochelle Hendricks all went through similarly protracted confirmation processes.
Still, it is unlikely to be a long-lived title, either. Christie is in his last six months on the job, and the next governor is sure to pick his or her own person for what is one of the highest-profile cabinet positions.
Yesterday, Harrington expressed her appreciation. She is the first former classroom teacher to hold the position in more than a decade.
“I'm grateful to Gov. Christie for the opportunity to continue my advocacy of children, and I'm honored and humbled to continue serving the students of New Jersey and working with the educators, parents, and communities that support them,” she said in an emailed statement.