State Superintendent of Public Instruction Marilyn Howard is being treated for breast cancer, her office just announced, and is undergoing surgery today. “Once Howard recuperates from today’s surgery, she and her physicians will determine appropriate follow-up treatment,” said a statement from Jennifer Oxley, Howard’s new public information officer. “Howard said she anticipates a somewhat reduced work schedule over the next few weeks. During her absences, the SDE (state Department of Education) will be managed by Dr. Jana Jones, Howard’s chief deputy.”
Jones, of course, is running for Howard’s job after Howard retires from the post. Howard, currently the state’s only Democrat in statewide elected office, is completing her second term in office. In the November election, Jones faces Republican Tom Luna, a businessman who unsuccessfully challenged Howard’s re-election four years ago.
Howard is a longtime educator and an expert on early reading problems who brought her expertise to the office as the state was launching new efforts to focus on reading skills in the early years of school.