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Class Reunion

By Sean Cavanagh — October 04, 2005 2 min read
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The staff roster at the Chartwell Education Group LLC has a distinctly familiar look to it.

At least six former senior Department of Education officials from the current President Bush’s administration, including former Secretary of Education Rod Paige and former Deputy Secretary William D. Hansen, have joined to form a consulting company.

Chartwell will advise a broad range of clients, including school districts, state officials, foundations, businesses, and foreign governments, said John Danielson, a former chief of staff to Mr. Paige in the Education Department, who has spearheaded the formation of the group.

The company will focus on strategies for academic improvement from prekindergarten through college, but will not engage in lobbying of any kind, said Mr. Danielson, who is Chartwell’s chief executive officer. “We’re not a lobbying firm, or a public relations firm,” he said.

Federal law generally bars former senior executive-branch employees from lobbying their former agencies for one year after leaving their posts.

So far, partners in the company include Mr. Paige, who was secretary throughout President Bush’s first term and will serve as chairman; Mr. Hansen; Susan K. Sclafani, a former assistant secretary for vocational and adult education and a longtime aide to Mr. Paige; Ronald J. Tomalis, a former counselor to Mr. Paige; and Mary Jane T. Pearson, a former San Francisco-based regional representative for the Education Department. The partners will specialize in areas they know best from their former federal work, though they also will share duties, Mr. Danielson said.

While several of the partners are Republicans, Mr. Danielson said discussions were under way to bring on board at least three “very well-respected” Democrats, whom he declined to identify. The consulting firm will have its headquarters in New York City, on the 75th floor of the Empire State Building, with offices in Washington and California, Mr. Danielson said.

Chartwell will choose its clients carefully, he added, working with individuals and organizations committed to academic improvement. While its work is likely to include areas of broad interest, such as the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which Mr. Paige helped pass and interpret, the firm’s reach will also extend beyond U.S. borders. The group has been in discussions with more than one African government about education policy, Mr. Danielson said.

“The goal is improved education,” he said, “not just in the U.S., but around the world.”

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A version of this article appeared in the October 05, 2005 edition of Education Week

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