Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat who is an ardent advocate of K-12 and higher education—and their link to the broader economy and jobs—appears headed to a cabinet post with the Department of Homeland Security. This seems to put to rest any education secretary speculation.
This would leave Arizona firmly in the GOP’s hands because the state’s Republican Secretary of State, Jan Brewer, is next in line for the governor’s office. Republicans control the legislature.
From an education perspective, this is a loss for Arizona, for the governors’ ranks, and for national education reform efforts. She was a big champion of education, and made innovation in education a cornerstone of her tenure as the chairwoman of the National Governors Association in 2006-07. She was helping marshal the governors to get behind an effort to internationally benchmark standards, and was announced as a co-chair of an advisory group on the issue in September. In her state, she surrounded herself with really smart, education policy adivsers in the governor’s office, whom we spent some time with for a project on P-20 councils, of which Arizona’s is a model.