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The Ed. Department’s Pearly ‘Gates’

By Michele McNeil — March 18, 2009 1 min read

It appears that another official with strong ties to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is headed for a key post at the education department.

Flypaper reports that Jim Shelton, a program director with the foundation, will be leading innovation efforts with the education department.

Certainly, the Gates Foundation has a very broad reach, so it would be difficult to staff an office with powerful people in the ed policy world without picking those who are involved with the foundation. But it’s worth pointing out the Gates connections since the foundation doles out a significant amount of money to influential organizations that are helping shape education reform. One of the foundation’s key pillars now, for instance, is pushing high, common academic standards—which mirrors a priority of the Obama administration and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

So, in addition to Shelton, there’s Carmel Martin, the pick for assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development. She had just gotten hired at the Gates Foundation when she was lured away to the education department.

And Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s new senior counselor, Margot Rogers, was the deputy director of education programs at the Gates Foundation. In this 2006 Catalyst Chicago magazine article, Rogers praises the guy who is now her boss: “We really see Arne as one of a few leaders in the country who is really thoughtful and groundbreaking in making sure students are prepared for college, work and life.” Gates had just awarded Chicago Public Schools, where Arne Duncan was then the superintendent, a four-year $21 million grant, according to the article.

Are we missing any education department officials with strong Gates connections?

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