Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has appointed Jason Kloth as deputy mayor of education, a new cabinet-level position that reflects Ballard’s recent shift toward taking a more active role in education, even though his office gives him little direct influence over schools.
Kloth, whose appointment still requires approval of the City-County Council, is a veteran of Teach For America, the New York-based not-for-profit that puts recent college graduates through two-year teaching stints in urban and rural districts around the country.
Kloth taught sixth-grade language arts in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley for two years and was named teacher of the year by his colleagues.
He later became executive director of Teach For American when the program first came to Indianapolis in 2008. Most recently, Kloth has been Teach For America’s senior vice president of public affairs, overseeing the group’s federal government affairs, media and communications, federal policy, research and evaluations, and community relations.
Kloth, who holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, has also served as chairman of the board of KIPP Indianapolis College Preparatory, one of the 22 charter schools overseen by Ballard’s office.
“Our priority is to improve scholastic achievement of our city’s youth through better choice and accountability, and I can’t think of anyone better than Jason, with his Indianapolis background and commitment, to lead that charge in Marion County," Ballard said in a prepared statement.
Ballard has resisted an effort by The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based education reform group, to give the Indianapolis mayor and City-County Council the authority to appoint the baord members of Indianapolis Public Schools. But Ballard's appointment of Kloth will get him more deeply involved in education work.
Among Kloth's duties will be to lure educational organizations to Indianapolis, such as the announcement last year that Project Lead the Way would move its headquarters here from New York.
Kloth will also oversee Ballard’s charter schools director, Beth Bray, who will continue to work to approve new charter schools. Ballard set a goal in September of opening 20 new charter schools in the next five years.