Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Federal

Hansen Brings Years of Beltway Experience, A Lifetime in Politics To Paige Team

By Erik W. Robelen — September 19, 2001 3 min read

When he was just 22 years old, William D. Hansen took his first job at the Department of Education, which at the time had only recently been converted to Cabinet-level status.

He was a special assistant to Terrel H. Bell, President Reagan’s first education secretary, who was from Mr. Hansen’s home state of Idaho.

“I was a very junior special assistant,” Mr. Hansen recalled recently. Among his first tasks was to help promote the department’s legislative agenda in Congress.

William D. Hansen

Twenty years later, he’s not so junior anymore. Mr. Hansen in May was sworn in as the deputy secretary, the Education Department’s No. 2 position. In that capacity, he is the chief operating officer, in charge of day-to-day programmatic and budget policy, as well as management and operations.

Mr. Hansen’s engagement in politics and public policy began long before he first set foot in the Education Department. His father, former Rep. George Hansen, R-Idaho, served seven terms in the House of Representatives over the course of three decades. Beyond helping out with his father’s campaigns, the deputy secretary had worked on Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign as well as Republican senatorial campaigns before joining the department.

“I was always involved in public policy, even as a youngster,” he said.

Over the years, Mr. Hansen served in a variety of leadership posts at the Education Department, along with brief stints at the departments of Commerce and Energy. In 1986-87, he worked on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the office of legislation. When that measure was signed into law, then-Secretary William J. Bennett asked him to become the deputy assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education. In that job, Mr. Hansen focused on producing and disseminating the federal regulations to accompany the revised ESEA.

Mr. Hansen returned to the department in 1989, during the first Bush administration, to lead an initiative on school choice before ultimately serving as the assistant secretary for management and budget, at that time the department’s No. 3 position.

He took a long hiatus from the federal government when Democrat Bill Clinton won the Oval Office. But he stayed in Washington to serve as the executive director and chief executive officer of the Education Finance Council, which lobbies for private lenders of student aid.

His breadth of experience in the department and knowledge of the Washington political scene has given him great credibility with many insiders from both parties, who see him as a solid choice for the deputy secretary’s job.

“Bill Hansen knows the Department of Education and how to get things done better than anybody,” said Vic Klatt, a lobbyist who formerly was a senior aide to Republicans on the House Education and the Workforce Committee and a deputy assistant secretary in the administration of President Bush’s father. Several former colleagues describe Mr. Hansen as low-key, modest, and a hard worker.

Mr. Hansen certainly stirs up far less turbulence than his father, a staunch conservative who championed a series of controversial causes during his tenure in Congress.

For instance, he delivered scathing attacks on the Internal Revenue Service and made unauthorized diplomatic trips to Iran in 1979 during the hostage crisis, which caused an outcry from the White House, the State Department, and many of his colleagues in Congress.

The senior Mr. Hansen was also twice convicted of illegal activity while serving in Congress (and a third time after he left office), although one of those convictions was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Of the former congressman’s votes while in the House, one with particular irony in light of his son’s career path took place in September 1979: That’s when George Hansen voted against the legislation creating the Department of Education.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

BASE Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Director of Information Technology
Montpelier, Vermont
Washington Central UUSD
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Director of Athletics
Farmington, Connecticut
Farmington Public Schools

Read Next

Federal How Biden's Data Mandate Could Help Schools Navigate the COVID-19 Crisis
An executive order directs the Education Department to collect data on issues like whether schools offer in-person learning.
4 min read
President Joe Biden signs executive orders after speaking about the coronavirus, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, right, in the State Dinning Room of the White House, on Jan. 21, 2021, in Washington.
President Joe Biden signs executive orders after speaking about the coronavirus, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, right, at the White House, on Jan. 21.
Alex Brandon/AP
Federal Early Education Department Appointees Have Links to Jill Biden, Teachers' Unions
President Joe Biden's 12 appointments have links to the players who could exert the most influence on the new administration's K-12 policy.
4 min read
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden hug as they arrive at the North Portico of the White House on Jan. 20, 2021.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden hug as they arrive at the North Portico of the White House on inauguration day.
Alex Brandon/AP
Federal Biden Launches New Strategy to Combat COVID-19, Reopen Schools
The president plans a more centralized strategy that includes broader vaccine efforts, more data on the pandemic, and new school guidance.
5 min read
Public School 95 in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn is one of many schools in New York ordered to close due to a flare-up of coronavirus cases in the area on Oct. 5, 2020.
Public School 95 in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn is one of many schools in New York ordered to close due to a flare-up of coronavirus cases in the area on Oct. 5, 2020.
Kathy Willens/AP
Federal Opinion Blessings and Best Wishes, President Biden
Rick Hess takes a moment to offer President-elect Biden his best wishes and to reflect on Inauguration Day.
1 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty