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Who’s in the Running to Be Education Secretary?

By David J. Hoff — November 05, 2008 1 min read
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The guessing game has begun.

This morning’s Washington Post suggests that New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein as secretary of education “would mark a departure from the tradition of rewarding loyalists and party leaders.” Politico reports that former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is in the running for the job. Timemagazine’s The Page says one of “the eight burning Obama-Biden questions” is: “Would Colin Powell accept the job of secretary of education?” The Wall Street Journal interviewed Powell, who said he didn’t want to job in the Obama administration. The Chronicle of Higher Education offers a long list of possibilities; many on the list are highly unlikely, according to my sources.

And all of this happened before the Obama communications office announced the people who would be working on the transition team.

I talked with several people today who are in the know on this. They all say it’s too early to know exactly what the transition team is looking for in an education secretary for many of the same reasons I listed earlier. It probably will be two weeks before the search for an education secretary becomes serious.

But it’s too early to dismiss many of the big names mentioned so far. If you’re entering a guessing contest, you might have a shot if you pick Klein, Chicago’s Arne Duncan, North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley, or Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano. Stanford Professor Linda Darling-Hammond has some influential backers, I hear, and Jonathan Schnur—the head of New Leaders for New Schools—certainly has connections to the campaign that could land him in charge at the Education Department. But both may be better suited for positions that focus more on policy than politics.

But if you want a long-shot candidate, try Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall. And you can say you read it here first.


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