Opinion Blog


Rick Hess Straight Up

Education policy maven Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute think tank offers straight talk on matters of policy, politics, research, and reform. Read more from this blog.

Federal Opinion

Filling the Dozen Top Jobs in Trump’s Department of Education

By Rick Hess — November 14, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In Washington, when a new president is elected, it sparks weeks of feverish ruminating on each personnel decision, with breathless discussions of everything from high-profile cabinet appointments to who should (or will) be the Bureau of Migratory Waterfowl’s next deputy assistant secretary for planning and policy. All of this tends to invest these jobs with more glamour than they probably deserve—since they’re mostly marathons of meetings, glad-handing, budgeting, damage control, and bureaucratic oversight. But that’s how Washington works.

And the truth is that these appointments really do matter. As the old saw has it: “Personnel is policy.” It’s the appointees in the various departments who will ultimately shape the Trump administration’s educational priorities and agenda. This has never been truer than now, given how much of Trump’s educational platform is a blank slate—or one filled with only the broadest of notional directives (e.g. school choice good, Common Core bad).

I’ll be clear: I don’t know who will populate the Trump administration’s Department of Education. I do have a few thoughts on some of the folks I’d like to see in the mix, though—and I figured I’d share them with you, if only so that fewer folks feel obliged to inquire. Please understand that this isn’t an exhaustive, careful, or complete list. After all, I have no particular thoughts, for instance, on the commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration. It’s more an eclectic mix of some names I’d like to see considered. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some names that I’d have included if I’d given this more thought, and it’s obviously limited to individuals who I’m guessing/hoping might be willing to serve in this choice-friendly, Common Core-skeptical, Republican administration. I’ve also omitted some of the most outspoken NeverTrumpers (like John Bailey and Mike Petrilli), for obvious reasons.

Keep in mind that I have no juice in any of this and there’s no reason to expect anyone to listen to me. But so it goes. With all that in mind, here are some of the names I’d love to see considered for a dozen of the top jobs (I’m not bothering with bios or current positions; if you don’t know who someone is, just ride the google):

U.S. Secretary of Education: Mitch Daniels, Scott Walker, Bill Evers, Gerard Robinson
Deputy Secretary: David Cleary, Brian Jones, Lisa Graham Keegan, Larry Arnn
Under Secretary: Nina Rees, Paul Pastorek, Jim Peyser, Vic Klatt, Hanna Skandera
Assistant Secretary - Civil Rights: Joshua Dunn, Greg Lukianoff, Robert Scott
Assistant Secretary - Communications and Outreach: Jenna Talbot, Joy Pullmann, Holly Kuzmich
Assistant Secretary - Elementary and Secondary Education: Dwight Jones, Robert Pondiscio, Tom Luna, Matt Ladner, Jim Stergios
Assistant Secretary - Legislation and Congressional Affairs: Lindsay Fryer, D’arcy Philps, Lindsey Burke
Assistant Secretary - Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development: Peter Oppenheim, Brad Thomas, Andy Smarick, Robert Enlow
Assistant Secretary - Postsecondary Education: Andrew Kelly, Jason Delisle, James Bergeron
Assistant Secretary - Special Education and Rehabilitative Services: Joe Siedlecki, Mike McShane, Max Eden
Assistant Secretary - Vocational and Adult Education: Tom Stewart, Tony Bennett
Institute of Education Sciences - Director: Patrick Wolf, Jay Greene, Caroline Hoxby, Martin West, Rick Hanushek

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Feds to Probe Whether Texas Ban on School Mask Mandates Violates Disability Rights Laws
The Education Department has already opened investigations in six other states that ban universal school mask requirements.
2 min read
A staff member holds the door open for kids on the first day of school at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.
A staff member holds the door open at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas in 2020. This year, Texas has prohibited school districts from requiring all students to wear masks.
Mikala Compton/Herald-Zeitung via AP
Federal New Federal Team to Work on Puerto Rico School Improvement, Oversight
The Puerto Rico Education Sustainability Team will focus on creating better learning environments and improving financial management.
3 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the Emilio Delgado School in Corozal on June 30, 2021 during a visit to Puerto Rico.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the Emilio Delgado School in Corozal on June 30, 2021 during a visit to Puerto Rico.
Teresa Canino Rivera/GDA via AP
Federal Pandemic Tests Limits of Cardona's Collaborative Approach as Education Secretary
He's sought the image of a veteran educator among former peers, but COVID has forced him to take a tough stance toward some state leaders.
10 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter speak to Mia Arias, 10, during their visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter speak to Mia Arias, 10, during a visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP
Federal White House Launches Hispanic Education Initiative Led by Miguel Cardona
President Joe Biden said his administration intends to address the "systemic causes" of educational disparities faced by Hispanic students.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona writes down and draws positive affirmations on poster board with students during his visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits students in New York City at P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school in the Bronx last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP