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Who Is Advising Hillary Clinton on Education Policy?

By Alyson Klein — September 09, 2016 2 min read
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addresses the National Education Association’s representative assembly in Washington in 2016.
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Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, now has a cadre of experts informing her views on education policy, including K-12 issues.

And the list, first reported by Mother Jones’ magazine, includes some folks whose names Education Week readers should be very familiar with. They run the gamut from folks who are arguably sympathetic to the education redesign wing of the party to the presidents of both national teachers’ unions. They include:

  • Chris Edley, the president of the Opportunity Institute, which promotes education policies aimed at equity. Edley was a key advisor, and mentor, to President Barack Obama on education issues when he was running for office. His background is in civil rights law. In fact, he worked with Gary Orfield (a national expert on school desegregation) to found the Harvard Civil Rights Project. And he served on the Obama administration’s National Commission on Equity and Excellence.
  • Lily Eskelsen García, the president of the National Education Association, which has endorsed Clinton. She has made it clear to her members that teachers are going to have a seat at the table on policy making in a potential Clinton administration. Obviously, the union at least already does.

  • Carmel Martin, the executive vice-president for policy at the Center for American Progress, and also a former top aide to former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Martin was an architect of the Obama administration No Child Left Behind waivers, which incorporated teacher evaluation through test scores, a policy Clinton has made it clear she doesn’t like. She also helped craft the School Improvement Grant program, which called for removing teachers and principals, and which both teaches’ unions have criticized. (It’s now defunct.) So she may bring a different perspective than Eskelsen García and Weingarten.
  • Catherine Brown, who works with Martin at CAP, as vice president for education policy. Brown has worn a number of hats over the years, including working as an aide in Clinton’s Senate office, and for Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the former education committee chairman and an author of NCLB. She was also a vice president for policy at Teach for America.
  • Richard Riley, the former governor of South Carolina who served as Bill Clinton’s education secretary. As secretary, he fought for higher standards and a greater degree of accountability, but was also a big fan of education funding and state’s rights.

Even though these are the members of Clinton’s education “working group” it is not the full, exhaustive list of everyone who is helping her campaign on education. There are about fifty folks weighing in on policy, all told.

Want to know what Clinton would actually do on K-12 policy, if elected president? She hasn’t unveiled a comprehensive soup-to-nuts plan, like she has on higher education and early education. But she has weighed in on a number of issues including testing, standards, and resources. Compare her education views to her rival, Donald Trump’s here.

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Holly Peele, Library Director contributed to this article.