Special Report
School & District Management

Deputy Secretary Pick Brings Business Background

By Alyson Klein — May 11, 2009 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In naming Tony Miller to fill the No. 2 slot at the U.S. Department of Education, President Barack Obama has turned to a manager with extensive business experience as the department tackles the challenge of overseeing some $100 billion in economic-stimulus aid to education.

Mr. Miller, whose nomination as deputy secretary of education was announced April 29, has been at the department since the beginning of the new administration, serving as an informal adviser to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Tony Miller, the nominee for the department’s No. 2 slot has been an adviser on stimulus aid.

In that capacity, he has been a central player in overseeing new education money allocated to the department under the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that President Obama signed into law in February.

Mr. Miller has spent his career “realizing opportunities for growth, operating efficiencies, and innovation,” according to a White House statement announcing his selection. The nomination is subject to confirmation by Congress.

Most recently, Mr. Miller served as a director of Silver Lake, a leading private investment firm, with offices in Menlo Park, Calif. and New York City, with more than $15 billion in capital. And he spent 10 years with McKinsey & Co., where he was a partner specializing in performance improvement, cost cutting, and company restructuring.

Mr. Miller has also worked with the 700,000-student Los Angeles Unified School District, developing student-achievement goals and aligning budgets and operating plans, as well as creating processes for monitoring districtwide performance. He performed similar work for the 11,565-student Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, also in California.

He serves as an ex officio member of the board budget and finance committee for the Los Angeles district.

Running Efficiently

The selection of Mr. Miller says less about the administration’s education policy and reform agenda than about the desire to put a strong manager in the department’s second-highest position, according to Michael J. Petrilli, a vice president of the Washington-based Thomas B. Fordham Institute, who has tracked the department’s personnel moves.

“You need someone to keep the trains running on time,” said Mr. Petrilli, who served as a political appointee in the department during President George W. Bush’s first term.

He added that the choice means “the real power center on policy will be someplace else,” such as Carmel Martin, the assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development, or the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, who has yet to be named.

Education advocates gave President Obama and Secretary Duncan high marks for choosing Mr. Miller.

“With the added responsibilities that come with all this stimulus funding, we’re pleased to see the secretary bring in someone to ensure that the department engine doesn’t just run, but that it runs efficiently,” said Amy Wilkins, the vice-president for government affairs and communications for the Education Trust, a Washington-based advocacy organization for low-income and minority students.

Mary Kusler, the assistant director for policy and advocacy at the American Association of School Administrators, based in Arlington, Va., said she has “really enjoyed working with [Mr. Miller] so far. He is open and engaging and willing to talk about issues.”

A version of this article appeared in the May 13, 2009 edition of Education Week as Deputy Secretary Pick Brings Business Background


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.
Curriculum Webinar
Strategies for Incorporating SEL into Curriculum
Empower students to thrive. Learn how to integrate powerful social-emotional learning (SEL) strategies into the classroom.
Content provided by Be GLAD
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.
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.

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 What the Research Says 5 Things Schools Can Do This Summer to Improve Student Attendance Next Year
Schools can get a jump on student attendance during the school year by using data, leveraging summer programs, and connecting with families.
6 min read
Julian Gresham, 12, left, works in a group to program a Bee-Bot while in their fifth grade summer school class Monday, June 14, 2021, at Goliad Elementary School. Bee-bots and are new to Ector County Independent School District and help to teach students basic programming skills like sequencing, estimation and problem-solving.
Julian Gresham, 12, left, works on a robotics programming activity in a 5th-grade summer school class June 14, 2021, at Goliad Elementary School in Ector County, Texas. Active summer programs may improve students' attendance during the school year.
Jacob Ford/Odessa American via AP
School & District Management Grad Rates Soared at a School Few Wanted to Attend. How It Happened
Leaders at this Florida high school have "learned to be flexible" to improve graduation rates.
8 min read
Student hanging on a tearing graduate cap tassel
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School & District Management Opinion Don’t Just Listen to the Loudest Voices: Resources for Ed. Leaders
These resources can help school and district leaders communicate with their communities.
Jennifer Perry Cheatham & Jenny Portillo-Nacu
5 min read
A pair of hands type on a blank slate of keys that are either falling apart or coming together on a bed of sharpened pencils.  Leadership resources.
Raul Arias for Education Week
School & District Management The Harm of School Closures Can Last a Lifetime, New Research Shows
The short-term effects on students when their schools close have been well documented. New research examines the long-term impact.
5 min read
Desks and chairs are stacked in an empty classroom after the permanent closure of Queen of the Rosary Catholic Academy in Brooklyn borough of New York on Aug. 6, 2020.
Desks and chairs are stacked in an empty classroom after the permanent closure of Queen of the Rosary Catholic Academy in Brooklyn borough of New York on Aug. 6, 2020. A new study examines the long-term effects on students whose schools close.
Jessie Wardarski/AP