Guest post by Andrew Ujifusa
San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, who has made education policy a hallmark of his tenure, has been tapped by President Barack Obama to be the new U.S. secretary of housing and urban development, according to the San Antonio Express News.
Castro, a Democrat who was elected mayor in 2009 and again in 2011, would have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before replacing current the current U.S. Secretary for Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan. Donovan, in turn, is slated to lead the administration’s Office of Management and Budget, according to ABC News.
It’s not clear how, if at all, Castro’s clear focus on education issues (specifically early education and college access) would translate to the HUD cabinet position. But it’s worth noting that in the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative unveiled earlier this year by the Obama administration to improve the lives of young boys and men of color, both U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Donovan were given prominent roles. It might be one indicator that as his tenure winds down, President Obama wants people like Castro to think and act more collaboratively about how to tackle complex social problems that touch on civil rights, education, civic culture, and housing.
Castro first gained prominence as a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in 2012, mirroring the rise of President Barack Obama after his speech at the same convention in 2004.
Although he doesn’t have direct control over schools in San Antonio, Castro told my colleague Sean Cavanagh in an interview at the 2012 convention that “there’s no one better positioned than the mayor of a city” to articulate priorities for education.
In the interview, he discussed the sales tax increase he was asking voters to approve later that year as a way to expand prekindergarten in the city because of “the great benefit that high-quality, full-day pre-K can make in the lives of children.” (The 1/8 cent sales tax increase was approved at the ballot box later that year.)
At the other end of the K-12 pipeline, Castro also strove to increase college access through his “Cafe College” initiative, which offered a one-stop option for students to help them with college admissions, test prep, and other aspects of the transition to higher education.
Photo: San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, left, and his twin brother, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. in 2012. (Charles Dharapak/AP)