School & District Management Federal File

Exodus Begins at Ed. Dept.

By David J. Hoff — September 30, 2008 1 min read

The career merry-go-round that coincides with every change of presidential administrations has begun.

David Dunn, the chief of staff to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, announced last week that he would be returning to Austin, Texas, to lead a new statewide group promoting charter schools.

“I’m happy to be going home,” the Fort Worth native said in an interview.

Mr. Dunn had hoped to stay until President Bush leaves office on Jan. 20. But because his new job will require him to lobby the Texas legislature in the biennial session that begins in January, he needs to leave his current job soon. His last day at the department will be Oct. 3.

“If I don’t get down there and get prepared to hit the ground running, we would lose another two years” until Texas lawmakers reconvene in 2011, he said.

Mr. Dunn has been an influential aide to Ms. Spellings since he arrived in Washington in August 2002. He worked closely with Ms. Spellings while she was White House domestic-policy adviser in President Bush’s first term.

In 2004, he was assigned briefly to the Department of Education, helping respond to states’ difficulties in complying with the No Child Left Behind Act.

When Ms. Spellings became education secretary at the start of the president’s second term, Mr. Dunn formally moved to the Education Department with her.

Mr. Dunn said he is happy to be changing his focus to expanding the network of charter schools in Texas. He will be the first executive director of the Texas Charter School Association.

About 80,000 Texas students attend more than 300 charter schools, Mr. Dunn said. Still, that’s a small fraction of the 4.4 million students in Texas public schools.

The charter school group hopes to expand the cap on the number of organizations allowed to open such schools and to give charters state financing on par with that of other public schools.

“We really believe there’s an opportunity to create a robust charter school network in Texas,” Mr. Dunn said.

A version of this article appeared in the October 01, 2008 edition of Education Week

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