Federal Federal File

Position of Influence?

By David J. Hoff — February 27, 2007 1 min read
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For the past year, Alex Nock has led an effort to recommend significant changes to the No Child Left Behind Act. He now holds a post that will give him significant say over whether those recommendations become reality.

Three days after the Aspen Institute’s bipartisan Commission on No Child Left Behind unveiled its 75-point plan to refine the 5-year-old law, Mr. Nock left his position as staff director for the panel to become the deputy director of the House Education and Labor Committee.

Mr. Nock’s new job had been widely rumored in Washington since the Democrats won control of Congress in the midterm elections. The appointment appears to increase the chances that the Aspen panel’s recommendations will become part of any revisions Congress makes to the NCLB law.

Mr. Nock, 35, was the coordinator of education policy for Democrats on the House committee from 1997 to 2005, a time when they were in the minority. He left to become be the top staff member for the Aspen Institute panel. The nonpartisan think tank, based in Washington, financed its NCLB work with grants from several private foundations.

Among its list of changes, the Aspen panel suggested that the law set up a data-driven method of evaluating teachers, and even for their eventual removal from schools receiving Title I aid that fail to improve student achievement under the NCLB law. (“Panel Report Is Latest Rx for NCLB,” Feb. 21, 2007.)

Despite Mr. Nock’s departure, the Aspen panel is going to stay active in advising Congress on how to implement its proposals.

Gary M. Huggins, the commission’s director of policy and research, will take Mr. Nock’s position as staff director.

While Mr. Nock’s job as a top committee aide will likely give him considerable say on changes to the NCLB law, one leader of the Aspen panel has his eye on an office that would give him an even greater say over federal K-12 policy.

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson, who co-chaired the panel with former Georgia Gov. Roy E. Barnes, has formed a presidential exploratory committee and is actively recruiting support from prominent residents of Iowa, the home of the first presidential caucuses. Mr. Thompson, a Republican, is a former governor of Wisconsin, which borders the Hawkeye State.

A version of this article appeared in the February 28, 2007 edition of Education Week


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