Rob Saxton currently serves as the first Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction in the State of Oregon. His appointment follows significant restructuring of the state education bureaucracy. Saxton previously served as the Superintendent of Tigard-Tualatin School District, which covers a suburb of Oregon's largest city. Saxton's tenure with the Oregon Department of Education will end on June 30, 2015, when he assumes the position of Superintendent at the Northwest Regional Education Service District in Hillsboro, Oregon.
School District Administrator
Saxton started his career in education as a teacher and football coach in Big Spring, Texas. He returned to his home state after accepting a job teaching in Albany, Oregon. Rob's first administrative position was at West Albany High. He later held school administrative posts in nearby districts of McMinnville, Oregon and Sherwood, Oregon. Following this, he took the post as leader of the Tigard-Tualatin schools. With around 13,000 students, that district has shown marked improvement under Saxton's tenure. One area of particular focus for Saxton was closing the gap between minority students and the statewide averages in reading and mathematics. Colleagues also note his keen focus on early literacy and reducing inappropriate special education classifications. He acted as superintendent in Tigard-Tualatin for seven years before being appointed to statewide office.
For nearly 150 years, the highest education office in Oregon was the Oregon Superintendent of Public Instruction. However, Governor John Kitzhaber was elected in 2010 on a platform of reforming the education system. Therefore, at his direction the Oregon legislature passed major changes to the central administration of the Oregon Department of Education. One effect was the designation of the governor himself as Superintendent of Public Instruction. He then was to appoint a Deputy Superintendent to care for the day-to-day operation of the public school system. There is no longer an elected statewide Superintendent. This change was reportedly intended to give the governor stronger oversight of the education system.
At the same time, a new office was created, the Oregon Chief Educational Officer. This office oversees all educational programs in Oregon, including preschool (Head Start), K-12 public schools, community colleges, and universities. Previously these educational institutions had been only connected in a loose sense. This new position is designed to provide budget and mission unification. Therefore, the position of Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction reports to the Chief Educational Officer in the first instance, and then to the governor. The Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction is a professional-level position, as opposed to an elected position, and therefore pays about three times the salary of the previous Superintendent of Public Instruction position. The Deputy Superintendent will continue in the role of the now-defunct Superintendent as head of the Oregon Department of Education, which oversees K-12 school standards.
Saxton was announced for the statewide oversight position by Governor Kitzhaber on July 12, 2012. He becomes the first ever non-elected leader of Oregon's public schools. Kitzhaber indicated that Saxton's significant experience as Tigard-Tualatin superintendent was a key factor in his selection. After the appointment of Rudy Crew as Chief Education Officer, Saxton was the second top-level appointment in Kitzhaber's new education bureaucracy. The reforms were set to transfer the position from elected to appointed with the expiration of Susan Castillo's term as Superintendent. However, her early resignation created the vacancy filled by Saxton. Saxton takes up the role in an official capacity as of July 31, 2012. However, to continue on a permanent basis, his appointment must be confirmed by the Oregon legislature, which does not sit again until fall of 2012.[needs update]
In April 2015 The Oregonian reported that Saxton would leave his position as Deputy Superintendent of Public instruction effective June 30, 2015 for a new position with Northwest Regional ESD. Although Saxton’s reason for leaving the state position was given as “accomplishing where (my) heart lives, impacting outcomes for kids,” it was noted that Saxton would receive a $161,000 salary with the Northwest Regional ESD for the next two years plus “begin drawing from a large pension.”  On October 21, 2015 the Oregonian reported Saxton's income as $317,000. This includes $197,000 in his current position with Northwest Regional ESD plus his PERS benefit of $120,000.
The Department of Education in Oregon helps guide the more than 1,200 public schools in the state. The key roles of the agency include setting test standards and graduation requirements for statewide uniformity. This gives Saxton a wide latitude to influence pupil performance. Saxton has indicated that he intends to make the department focused, not only on legal requirements, but on offering a base of resources to local school districts. Saxton has a background in education lobbying, developed while serving as school administrator. However, he indicated a desire to learn more about the department before implementing any bold new initiatives.
- Hammond, Betsy (July 13, 2012). "Tigard-Tualatin Superintendent Rob Saxton chosen to lead Oregon public schools". The Oregonian. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
- Kish, Matthew (July 12, 2012). "Kitzhaber taps Rob Saxton for top schools post". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
- The Associated Press (July 13, 2012). "Rob Saxton appointed to key Ore. education post". KATU.com. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
- Hammond, Betsy (April 8, 2015) "Rob Saxton explains why he decided to quit as Oregon's state schools chief" The Oregonian. Retrieved Oct 12, 2015.
- Hammond, Betsy (October 8, 2015) "How much does former Oregon schools chief Rob Saxton get from PERS? Answer is in" the Oregonian. Retrieved Oct 23, 2015