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Jeb Bush’s Former Lt. Gov. a Contender for Job at Trump Ed. Dept., Sources Say

By Alyson Klein — August 25, 2017 3 min read
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Former Florida Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan is a top contender for a position at the U.S. Department of Education, multiple sources say.

His background would seem like a good fit for assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education, a position that’s being filled temporarily by Jason Botel.

Brogan, who recently stepped down as the chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, may be best known for serving as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s lieutenant governor, a post he held from 1999 to 2003. But Brogan has held just about every possible job in K-12 education policy and instruction. He’s been a teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools in Florida’s Martin County.

Brogan’s nomination to a federal Education Department post isn’t a done deal, sources say. But he’s said to be among a group of potential education appointees being vetted by the White House.

A department spokeswoman declined to comment. Brogran did not immediately return a phone call asking about his potential appointment.

Brogan was elected Florida’s commissioner of education in 1994, a gig he held until 1999, when he became lieutenant governor. Brogan championed higher academic standards, including a push to require students to take Algebra I or a comparable math course in order to graduate. The plan also called for students to earn a 2.0 grade-point average on a four-point scale to graduate from high school or to participate in sports or other extracurricular activities while they in school.

He also supported using tax dollars for private schools, a priority for U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Early in his tenure as Florida state chief, he proposed eliminating 350 jobs from the 1,500-person state education department—a pitch in line with DeVos’ own push to slim down regulations at the federal level.

Brogan was also a founding member of the Education Leaders Council, a now-defunct organization for conservative state chiefs and other education leaders that supported a slimmer federal role, high academic standards, and charter schools.

As Florida’s lieutenant governor, Brogan played a behind-the-scenes role in working to end race-based university admissions, a plan Bush championed.

Brogan also has extensive higher education experience. He was the president of Florida Atlantic University, and served as the chancellor of Florida’s state higher education system from 2009 to 2013. His stint at the helm of Pennsylvania’s higher education system lasted almost four years. He announced plans to resign from the job last month, around the time the state released a report written by consultants that detailed falling enrollment and fiscal problems in the state system. Brogan did not link the report’s findings to his choice to retire, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

If Brogan, indeed, gets the nod, he would join a cadre of top-level department officials with a connection to Jeb Bush, including Josh Venable, the chief of staff, and Carlos Muñiz, who served as deputy general counsel under the former Florida governor and has been nominated as Education Department general counsel. DeVos herself served on the board of Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education before she was tapped as secretary of education.

And Brogan would be joining a department that is sorely in need of help. So far, there’s only one assistant secretary in place at the department, Peter Oppenheim, who is overseeing congressional affairs. But important slots, including the assistant secretary for civil rights and the deputy secretary, are unfilled or staffed with temporary players. Some experienced GOP hands have been reluctant to work for an unpopular secretary and president who they say aren’t focused on much beyond school choice when it comes to education priorities.

Still, the sluggish hiring at the agency could be picking up soon. Sources say to expect some nomination announcements this fall.