At a Glance:
U.S. Secretaries of Education


The U.S. Department of Education has had 11 secretaries since its birth as a Cabinet-level department in 1980. Some have served for an entire presidential administration, others for less than a year. They've used their perch at the helm of the Education Department to push a broad basket of policy priorities, from standardized testing and broader civil rights enforcement to a rollback of the federal footprint in K-12. And they've come from a range of backgrounds, including that of former governor, federal judiciary, state schools chief, big-city superintendent, and outspoken policy advocate.

Check out these pages for a deep look at each secretary's tenure, challenges, and accomplishments.








Betsy DeVos
2017-Present

Betsy DeVos: 11th U.S. Secretary of Education

Serves under: President Donald J. Trump



John King Jr.
2016-2017

John B. King Jr.: 10th U.S. Secretary of Education

Served under: President Barack Obama



Arne Duncan
2009-2016

Arne Duncan: Ninth U.S. Secretary of Education

Served under: President Barack Obama



Margaret Spellings
2005-2009

Margaret Spellings: Eighth U.S. Secretary of Education

Served under: President George W. Bush



Rod Paige
2001-2005

Rod Paige: Seventh U.S. Secretary of Education

Served under: President George W. Bush



Richard W. Riley
1993-2001

Richard W. Riley: Sixth U.S. Secretary of Education

Served under: President Bill Clinton



Lamar Alexander
1991-1993

Lamar Alexander: Fifth U.S. Secretary of Education

Served under: President George H.W. Bush



Lauro F. Cavazos
1988-1990

Lauro F. Cavazos: Fourth U.S. Secretary of Education

Served under: Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush



William J. Bennett
1985-1988

William J. Bennett: Third U.S. Secretary of Education

Served under: President Ronald Reagan



Terrel H. Bell
1981-1984

Terrel H. Bell: Second U.S. Secretary of Education

Served under: President Ronald Reagan



Shirley Hufstedler
1979-1981

Shirley Hufstedler: First U.S. Secretary of Education

Served under: President Jimmy Carter