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Mitt Romney’s Education Advisers

By Michele McNeil — December 03, 2007 2 min read
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Over the weekend, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney named his education advisory committee. You can see the entire list here, but the 22-member committee is clearly a who’s who of GOP education policy wonks, with a healthy mix of federal and state policy experts. Thanks to my colleagues on the federal beat, David Hoff and Alyson Klein, for helping me hit on the highlights:

—Nina S. Rees is a new Romney convert. The former Bush-Cheney adviser originally was advising Republican presidential competitor and former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, but has now joined Romney’s camp as its education co-chair.

—The three other co-chairs are Paul E. Peterson, a government professor at Harvard University and the director of the program on education policy and governance at the university’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, plus U.S. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon of California, who is the senior Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, and U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard of Colorado.

—At least two of the committee members were big-wigs in Florida education policy. John Winn was the state’s education commissioner under then-Gov. Jeb Bush from 2004-2007, while Mary Laura Bragg helped implement one of Jeb Bush’s hallmark literacy programs, Just Read! Florida.

—William D. Hansen also made the list. He’s a former deputy U.S. secretary of education who now works with Rod Paige, a former first-term education secretary under President Bush, and whose implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act has been criticized. Paige founded the Chartwell Education Group consulting firm, of which Hansen is a director.

—Romney tapped several Massachusetts education policy wonks. James A. Peyser, who is now a partner with the NewSchools Venture Fund of California (which has raised $100 million to help start new charter schools), was a Romney education adviser in Massachusetts, along with Robert M. Costrell, now an education reform and economics professor at the University of Arkansas.

—Eugene W. Hickok, who works for the lobbying firm Dutko Worldwide, is on Romney’s committee as well. The former Pennsylvania secretary of education and a former No. 2 official in the federal Department of Education under President Bush in March paid $50,000 to settle possible conflict-of-interest charges over stock he owned in a bank that participated in the federal student-loan program.

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