President Bush plans to nominate Eugene W. Hickok, Pennsylvania’s secretary of education, to be the undersecretary of the Department of Education, the agency’s No. 3 post.
Mr. Hickok is well-known as a founder and the current chairman of the Education Leaders Council, a conservative-leaning group of top state education officials that was formed as an alternative to the Council of Chief State School Officers in 1995. The ELC supports private school choice and greater flexibility for states and districts in spending federal dollars, among other priorities.
In Pennsylvania, Mr. Hickok has instituted programs to create charter schools, raise academic standards, and improve reading skills. Under Gov. Tom Ridge, a Republican, he unsuccessfully attempted to win adoption of a voucher system for students in failing schools.
“The neat thing that he’ll bring is that he’s an out-of-the-box thinker on education reform,” said Gary M. Huggins, the executive director of the ELC. “He’s recognized as a leader who looks at this differently.”
But he was lambasted by the state teachers’ union. “Secretary Hickok spent much of his six years in pursuit of ‘silver bullet’ approaches such as privatization and vouchers instead of sound, practical reforms,” said Patsy J. Tallarico, the president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, a National Education Association affiliate.
Mr. Hickok’s selection had been expected for more than a month, but was not announced by the White House until late last week.
The news came one week after news that President Bush tapped William D. Hansen, a lobbyist for student aid lenders, as the deputy secretary, the No. 2 job.
The appointments, which must be confirmed by the Senate, would pair a moderate and conservative in managing day-to-day responsibilities and helping to set department policy, an arrangement that many Washington lobbyists believe was a goal of the Bush administration.
Lindsey Kozberg, a spokeswoman for Secretary of Education Rod Paige, said Mr. Hickok would bring a valuable state perspective to the department and would work to get the president’s education plan passed in Congress.
A version of this article appeared in the March 21, 2001 edition of Education Week as Bush Picks Hickok for No. 3 Post