Shapiro taps superintendent to be education secretary

Marc Levy
Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A school superintendent who won Pennsylvania superintendent of the year and has experience in both the wealthiest and poorest districts will be Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro's nominee for secretary of education, the Democrat said Monday.

Khalid Mumin, who has been superintendent of the Lower Merion School district in suburban Philadelphia for a little over a year, will be nominated after Shapiro is inaugurated on Jan. 17.

Before joining Lower Merion, Mumin was superintendent for seven years at the Reading School District, a majority Latino district that is one of the state's largest districts and one of its poorest. Lower Merion is one of the state's wealthiest districts.

Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, speaks with members of the media after casting his ballot in the midterm elections in Rydal , Pa., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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At Reading, he won superintendent of the year from the superintendents' statewide trade association.

At the time Mumin took the job in Reading, the district was in financial tumult, in danger of being taken over by the state and suffering from a revolving door of superintendents coming and going, Reading officials said.

There, the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators said Mumin “demonstrated visionary leadership right from the start to get the district back on a positive track and focused on academic growth and support.”

In a brief statement issued by Shapiro’s transition, Mumin said he knows what it takes to improve the state’s education system.

“I look forward to working with the governor-elect to fully fund our schools, make our students’ mental health a priority and empower parents and guardians to ensure their children receive a quality education,” Mumin said.

He'll come to the post at a time when public school funding in Pennsylvania is under a microscope, and found in recent years to be among the nation’s most inequitable, particularly for districts with heavy populations of Black and Latino students.

Fixing it became a priority of outgoing Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, and is the subject of a pending lawsuit in Pennsylvania courts filed by several of the state's 500 school districts.

With some exceptions, governors in the past have tended to elevate a school superintendent into the post of education secretary to oversee a department that distributes more than $20 billion in federal and state taxpayer dollars, or about one in five of all money spent by the state.

The vast majority of the money goes to public and private schools, institutions of higher education and pensions.