School & District Management

Spellings Sets New Structure for Ed. Dept.

By Christina A. Samuels — March 05, 2005 2 min read

The U.S. Department of Education announced a restructuring plan on March 4 that will move several offices under one of two umbrellas, as well as create a new office that will handle communications and a new office dealing with policy development.

The office of the deputy secretary of education will now focus on K-12 policy, which includes implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and President Bush’s High School Initiative. The deputy secretary will supervise the offices of elementary and secondary education, innovation and improvement, English-language acquisition, special education and rehabilitative services, and safe and drug-free schools, along with other precollegiate initiatives.

Higher and adult education policy will be the focus of the undersecretary of education, who will oversee the offices of postsecondary education and vocational and adult education, as well as student financial aid and other college-level initiatives.

The two new offices will be headed by assistant secretaries, who are subject to confirmation by the Senate and will report directly to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. The new office of planning, evaluation, and policy development will supervise the budget service, the strategic-accountability service, and the policy and program-studies service. It will coordinate the work of the educational technology office.

The new office of communications and outreach will oversee public affairs and intergovernmental and interagency affairs.

David Dunn, Ms. Spellings’ chief of staff, said in a telephone press conference that the secretary, who took office with the start of President Bush’s second term, has been reviewing functions at the department for several weeks.

“We are really going to try to align the organizational structure with the key, critical missions of the U.S. Department of Education,” Mr. Dunn said.

The heads of the new offices will play much-needed roles in the department, he said.

“As new policies are developed, all of the various program offices impacted or with a stake in these policies are going to have a seat at the table from the beginning,” through the office of planning, evaluation, and policy development, he said.

In addition, the communications office will end the “decentralized and fragmented” communications process that Secretary Spellings believes is in place now, Mr. Dunn said.

The changes are expected to take place over the next several weeks. The current undersecretary of education, Edward R. “Ted” McPherson, will shift to a senior adviser position to oversee the restructuring.

Mr. McPherson’s replacement, as well as the deputy secretary—who will succeed Eugene W. Hickok—and the two new assistant secretaries, have yet to be nominated

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