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Obama Taps Former OMB Aide for Key K-12 Policy Post

By Alyson Klein — May 01, 2014 2 min read
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Robert Gordon, who played key roles in the Office of Management and Budget under the Obama administration, including during the development of the education portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, has been tapped to serve as the assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development at the U.S. Department of Education.

Gordon was credited by some advocates with doing important behind-the-scenes work to help ensure that the unprecedented $100 billion in education aid included in the stimulus would be accompanied by a new commitment to education redesign at the state level.

Gordon is currently a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution. But from 2009 to 2013, Gordon wore a number of different hats at the Office of Management and Budget, including acting deputy director, executive associate director, and associate director for human resources. Great profile of him here.

Before that, he was a denizen of think tank land, doing two separate stints at the Center for American Progress. In 2006, while at CAP, he co-authored a paper on what at the time was a relatively novel policy idea: identifying effective teachers using test score data. Gordon also worked at the New York City Department of Education, on Capitol Hill, and was a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. And he served as a domestic policy adviser to Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. In fact, in that capacity, he did a chat with Education Week, which you can check out here.

And back in 2006 he wrote this perhaps prescient commentary for Education Week about why the idea of national standards had begun to gain bipartisan support, several years before the common core became a reality. More recently, just earlier this year in fact, he wrote this New Republic article with Sara Mead, a principal at Bellwether Education Partners, on how to improve the Head Start program. (Their solution: revamp outdated performance standards and set higher expectations for program outcomes.)

Gordon is replacing Carmel Martin, who was a driving force behind much of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s first term agenda. Martin, ironically, is now an executive vice-president at CAP, Gordon’s former stomping ground.

Oh, and for you gossip fans, Gordon is also one-half of an edu-power couple, according to a 2009 This Week in Education post by Alexander Russo. His wife, Catherine Brown, was an aide to former Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. She’s also done stints at Teach for America.

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