Dukakis Meetings Start Political Rumor Mills

May 25, 1988 2 min read
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A spokesman for Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts has discounted a published report that the Presidential candidate may have offered to make a Virginia school superintendent his secretary of education.

“That’s way off base,’' said Richard B. Schwartz, the Governor’s education aide.

“That is totally, totally premature,’' he said, adding that Mr. Dukakis, the likely Democratic nominee, had even discouraged speculation among his staff about his choice of a running mate.

A story in the May 18 issue of The Washington Times indicated that the offer may have been made to Robert R. Spillane, superintendent of the Fairfax County, Va., school district, when he and Mr. Schwartz met here recently to discuss the possibility that the Democratic Governor might deliver a speech on education this summer to Fairfax teachers.

“That’s people playing mischief,’' Mr. Spillane said of the newspaper’s report. “That is so speculative.’'

The superintendent said there was nothing unusual about his request for a speech by Mr. Dukakis. He noted that Senator Paul Simon, the Illinois Democrat who dropped out of the Presidential race earlier this year, accepted his offer to speak at a conference in Fairfax County last August, and that a similar offer has been extended to Vice President George Bush, who has clinched the Republican nomination.

“It seemed like a good idea to contact Governor Dukakis, who I do know,’' the superintendent said.

Mr. Spillane served as superintendent of schools in Boston from 1981 until 1985, when he accepted his current job in the suburban Washington district.

Mr. Spillane said that although he was not seeking the Cabinet post, he would not automatically turn it down if it were offered.

“I have no desire to pursue it,’' he said. “I would consider it, but my leaving Fairfax is not imminent.’'

He added that “there are much better candidates for secretary of education than Bob Spillane.’'

In an unrelated article that appeared in the same edition of The Washington Times, it was speculated that if Mr. Dukakis should win the election, he would appoint Hale Champion, his statehouse chief of staff, as secretary of education.

The article postulated that Mr. Dukakis would draw on a pool of applicants affiliated with Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government to staff the White House and his Cabinet. Mr. Champion currently is on leave from the post of executive dean of the Kennedy School.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reported that Mr. Dukakis, campaigning in California last week, met with Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig to discuss issues related to teaching and the teacher workforce.

The report said the candidate was also scheduled to meet with Marshall Smith, dean of the Stanford University School of Education; Professor of Education Lee Shulman of Stanford; and Superintendent of Schools Ramon Cortines of San Francisco.

But the Governor’s domestic-affairs aide, Tom Herman, was quoted as saying, “There will be no formal issues task force on education or any other subject. The Governor takes advice from many people.’'

A version of this article appeared in the May 25, 1988 edition of Education Week as Dukakis Meetings Start Political Rumor Mills

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