This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
In the midst of an unprecedented start to a new school year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pedro Rivera is stepping down as Pennsylvania’s education secretary.
The state’s top education official will leave his post at the end of September to become president of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster. Rivera has served as education secretary for five years.
Gov. Wolf plans to nominate Noe Ortega, the state’s deputy secretary of postsecondary and higher education, to take over the Department of Education.
“Noe Ortega has a proven record of advocating for equity and access for all students,” Wolf said in a public statement. “Recently, Noe has been spearheading Pennsylvania’s efforts to diversify our educator pipeline to make our classrooms better reflect the students we educate, and his expertise will continue to advance the department’s mission of ensuring Pennsylvania’s learners have access to the educational opportunities that will help them succeed.”
Before joining the department in 2017, Ortega spent eight years at the University of Michigan, where he held several roles, including assistant director at the National Center for Institutional Diversity and managing director for the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good. Before that, Ortega spent nearly a decade working in financial aid and enrollment management at both public and private universities in Texas.
In his statement, Wolf praised Rivera’s work on the adoption of the basic education funding formula and the creation of the school measuring tool called Future Ready PA Index.
“His leadership has been critical during the commonwealth’s response to COVID-19, and the relationships he cultivated with education stakeholders during his tenure have strengthened the ties between state and local partners and allowed local schools to inform state education policy,” he said.
A Philadelphia native, Rivera spent 13 years in the District as a teacher, principal, and central office administrator before being tapped to head the Lancaster school district in 2008.