Four new staffers with backgrounds in education policy have joined a growing list of political aides smoothing the way for President Donald Trump’s administration to take over the U.S. Department of Education, according to a memo sent to department employees Thursday and obtained by Education Week.
They include Michael Brickman, who until recently served as a senior project director at Luntz Global Partners, a GOP political strategy organization. Before that, he worked as a national policy director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank in Washington that supports high expectations for students and state flexibility. Brickman was also a policy adviser to Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican from Wisconsin, from 2011 to 2013.
Also joining the team: Matt Frendewey, who previously worked on communications for the American Federation for Children, a school choice advocacy organization that education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos chaired until recently. He’s also worked in Michigan politics, including for the Michigan Republican Party.
And the list includes Jana Toner, who served as a White House liaison for the U.S. Department of Education during President George W. Bush’s administration.
One policy hire: Ebony Lee. She spent the past nine years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, working on charter school policy. Before that, she was the chief of staff in the department’s Office of Innovation and Improvement during President George W. Bush’s administration. At the time, public school choice was a big part of the office’s focus.