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Title I Turnover

He went from Texas to Washington—before the deluge of Texans now peopling the Department of Education's executive floor. Now Joseph F. Johnson, who heads the agency's centerpiece Title I program to aid needy students, is leaving the nation's capital for Ohio.

As a special assistant to the Ohio education superintendent, he'll be taking his work in Washington on the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001 into the field.

Joseph F. Johnson

Mr. Johnson says he will craft strategies for closing Ohio's achievement gap between minority and white students. He'll leave the federal office June 28, but has already stepped aside to assist the acting director of Title I, Jackie Jackson.

Mr. Johnson says the new opportunity was too tempting to turn down. Some say there may be more to it.

"He felt underutilized and overmanaged," said a source close to the department and Mr. Johnson. Another source close to Mr. Johnson said he had learned as well that Mr. Johnson was "micromanaged."

Mr. Johnson's job at the agency, despite its prominence, is a career position, not a political appointment. He was hired at the tail end of the Clinton administration.

When asked if that association was a hindrance with President Bush's crowd, Mr. Johnson said no. The new administration recognizes him as "an avid supporter of this legislation," he said.

Mr. Johnson was formerly the program director for district support and services at the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Michael Cohen, a former assistant secretary of education under President Clinton, said Mr. Johnson's departure was a loss. Bush officials "need a core group of highly capable, stable staff who understand the program, states, and schools in order to make this work," Mr. Cohen said. "Joe typifies that."

—Michelle R. Davis

Vol. 21, Issue 39, Page 18

Published in Print: June 5, 2002, as Federal File

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