Undersecretary Sanders Leaving E.D. Post ]0 Take Over as State

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Washington---Undersecretary of Education Ted Sanders is leaving the No. 3 post in the Education Department to become superintendent of Ohio's public schools next month.

Mr. Sanders became the top deputy to former Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos in 1989 and served briefly as the acting head of the department after Mr. Cavazos' dismissal last December.

He previously headed the state school systems in Illinois and Nevada. Earlier this year, he was a finalist for the school chiefs job in Texas.

While some observers said Mr. Sanders' role at the department had waned since Lamar Alexander became Secretary in March, the undersecretary said he decided to leave his Washington post because of a nagging attachment to the role of state school chief.

"1 have spent most of my public life wanting to be a state superintendent or being one," he said. "The real action is at the state and local level. If it's going to happen, that is where it will happen."

While observers noted that Mr. Sanders had remained the leading educator in the department, "he had a larger presence under the previous Secretary," according to Bruce Hunter, associate executive director of the American Association of School Administrators.

"The Best Thing for Me'

The $115,000-a-year Ohio job presents Mr. Sanders with the immediate challenges of a school-finance-equity debate, state efforts to take over the Cleveland school district, and Gov. George V. Voinovich's attempts to oust the elected state board that hired Mr. Sanders in favor of a smaller appointed panel.

The Governor, who sat in on the final school-chief interviews, applauded the board's selection.

Mr. Sanders will replace Franklin B. Walter, who retired from the post last month after 14 years as the state's top education official.

In a press conference shortly after accepting the Ohio job, Mr. Sanders emphasized that he is leaving the Education Department on good terms.

"I wouldn't describe my departure as one that I am taking out of frustration," he said. "My role has gone through a number of different changes, but that is typical of any organization you serve in."

"If anything," he added, "I seemed to end up with more responsibilities rather than fewer."

He said that Mr. Alexander had encouraged him to stay in Washington but that he was intrigued by the range of urban and rural challenges present in Ohio's 613 school districts.

"You can name a problem we have in public education, and I think you'll find it in Ohio," he noted.

"If I could do everything, I would both stay and go," Mr. Sanders said. "On balance, though, I think this is the best thing for me."

An Education Department spokesman said officials had not yet decided how to fill Mr. Sanders' post, which was created by combining the responsibilities of deputy undersecretary for planning, budget, and evaluation, and the new position of chief financial officer.

Other Personnel Moves

The White House did move, however, to fill another slot in the department's senior ranks last month when it nominated Robert Okun, a former Congressional aide, to serve as assistant secretary for legislation.

Mr. Okun served as executive director of the House Republican Research Committee and the House Republican Policy Committee, and was director of the House Republican Conference when he resigned in April to work in Deputy Secretary of Education David T. Kearns's office.

In another personnel move, Michelle Easton has been appointed executive assistant for private education. She has held the pest on an acting basis since April 8, when she replaced Charles J. O'Malley, who had served as the private-education assistant for 10 years. (See Education Week, May 8, 1991 .)

Ms. Easton will advise the Secretary on private-education issues and serve as the department's liaison to private-education groups.

Several private-education advocates had expressed fears in recent months that the office would lose its autonomy or be diminished under reorganization plans being considered by Secretary Alexander.

But the permanent appointment of Ms. Easton and recent meetings between private-education leaders and department officials have calmed those fears, the advocates said.

Ms. Easton served as the department's deputy undersecretary for intergovernmental and interagency affairs from 1989 until April of this year.

Vol. 11, Issue 01, Page 37

Published in Print: September 4, 1991, as Undersecretary Sanders Leaving E.D. Post ]0 Take Over as State
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