School & District Management Federal File

A Short Leash?

By Michelle R. Davis — April 12, 2005 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings knows her way around the White House. She spent four years there as President Bush’s domestic- policy adviser before moving over to lead the Department of Education.

But President Bush is now requiring all Cabinet members to hold weekly office hours at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the massive granite structure just west of the Executive Mansion. The goal is to provide a greater opportunity for Cabinet secretaries to meet with White House staff members and be more involved in policy decisions, said Maria P. Tamburri, a White House spokeswoman.

In a story reported by The Washington Post late last month, Ms. Spellings endorsed the idea and called mandated time at the White House “a very efficient way to work” that gives her regular face time with key officials and Mr. Bush.

“I just think it keeps us connected to each other,” she told the Post. “It also helps guard against the us-against-them mentality that can develop between agencies and the White House.”

But Paul C. Light, a professor of public service at New York University, said the requirement is particularly “silly” for someone such as Ms. Spellings who already has the ear of the president through her long working relationship with him. In addition to her time working in the White House, Ms. Spellings was Mr. Bush’s top education aide when he was the governor of Texas.

“She has a permanent pass to the White House, I’m sure,” Mr. Light wrote in an e-mail last week. “Any Cabinet member who would actually spend four empty hours a week in the [Eisenhower Building] ought to take a good hard look at how they can spend more productive time back at their real office.”

Ms. Spellings holds regular office hours in the Eisenhower building once a week in a suite set up for the Cabinet members, said Susan Aspey, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education.

“She is able to meet with several key White House aides on a regular basis during her time over there and also meet with outside groups as needed,” Ms. Aspey wrote in an e-mail, “and given the very busy life of a Cabinet secretary, this one-stop shop makes for an efficient use of her time.”

But Mr. Light argues that the mandated time in a building close to the center of power is especially unnecessary for someone like Ms. Spellings. “It’s time at the White House that matters most,” Mr. Light wrote, “and Spellings has a standing invitation to stop by any time she needs to talk.”

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Privacy & Security Webinar
Navigating Modern Data Protection & Privacy in Education
Explore the modern landscape of data loss prevention in education and learn actionable strategies to protect sensitive data.
Content provided by  Symantec & Carahsoft

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Principals' Unions Are on the Rise. What Are Their Demands?
Across the country, principals are organizing for better working conditions.
8 min read
Illustration of hands shaking with smaller professional people standing on top, with hands in the air, celebrating.
iStock/Getty
School & District Management How Principals Are Outsourcing Their Busywork to AI
Principals are chipping away at their administrative to-do lists with a little help from AI.
6 min read
Education technology and AI Artificial Intelligence concept, Women use laptops, Learn lessons and online webinars successfully in modern digital learning,  Courses to develop new skills
iStock/Getty
School & District Management Opinion How to Let Your Values Guide You as a School Leader
Has your “why” become fuzzy? Here are four steps to keep principals motivated and moving forward.
Damia C. Thomas
4 min read
Silhouette of a figure inside of which is reflected public school life, Self-reflection of career in education
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
School & District Management ‘Be Vocal Without Being Vicious’: Superintendents on Fighting for More Funding
Two superintendents talk about stepping into the political realm to call for more public school funding.
5 min read
Photo of dollar bills frozen in ice.
iStock / Getty Images Plus