A veteran educator and former state superintendent from Arkansas has been tapped for the second most powerful position at the U.S. Department of Education.
President Bush on April 15 nominated Raymond J. Simon to become the deputy secretary of education. Mr. Simon, 60, who currently serves as the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, would oversee most K-12 education programs if his nomination is confirmed by the Senate.
The former state schools superintendent in Arkansas has a reputation among education groups and advocates for being willing to listen to their views. He is a veteran educator, having begun his career as a high school mathematics teacher in 1966, and worked his way through various administrative jobs in districts in Arkansas.
He was superintendent of the 8,200-student Conway, Ark., district from 1991 through 1997 before becoming the state’s education chief in 1997.
In September 2003, he was plucked from that post by President Bush to come to Washington and help oversee the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act. His duties have included smoothing out relations with states and education groups that have been reluctant to support the accountability mandates of the federal law.
Mr. Simon is also credited with helping add more regulatory flexibility in how the 2002 law is enforced, specifically in the areas of teacher-qualification mandates and student-testing requirements.
The appointment is seen as part of Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings’ efforts to streamline the administration of the Education Department. As part of a reorganization plan announced in March, Ms. Spellings plans to have the deputy secretary oversee most K-12 programs while giving responsibilities for vocational and higher education to the undersecretary, the department’s No. 3 post.
Mr. Simon would replace Eugene W. Hickok, the former deputy secretary, who left the department in January.
“Ray is a public servant dedicated to ensuring all children have access to a quality education. He has served as an outstanding assistant secretary, and I look forward to working with him in his new role as deputy secretary,” Ms. Spellings said in a statement regarding the nomination. “Ray will have a critical role on my team as we continue to work closely with states and meet the goals of No Child Left Behind.”