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English-Language Learners

Betsy DeVos Appoints Interim Leader for Hispanic Education Initiative

By Corey Mitchell — January 09, 2019 2 min read

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has appointed Andrea Ramirez as interim executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

She is filling the role vacated by Aimee Viana, who is now the principal deputy assistant secretary in the office of elementary and secondary education.

Ramirez is the current executive director of the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Education, and will serve in both roles until a permanent replacement for Viana is appointed.

Before coming to the education department in January 2018, Ramirez served as the executive director of the Faith and Education Coalition for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the nation’s largest Hispanic evangelical organization.

In her latest role leading the White House initiative, Ramirez will be responsible for coordinating efforts to address the needs of the nation’s nearly 13 million Hispanic students.

Shortly after DeVos’ confirmation in 2017, Ramirez wrote a Fox News opinion piece urging the new education secretary to “make marginalized children her first priority.”

“We all need to work together to craft a vision that truly—finally—leaves no child behind and ensures every student succeeds,” Ramirez wrote.

In her new position, Aimee Viana will serve as the principal adviser to Frank Brogan, the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education. Viana’s job is a high-profile, high-responsibility position previously held by Jason Botel, one of President Trump’s first education department appointees. During Botel’s tenure, he helped oversee the department’s implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

In September, Education Week profiled Aimee Viana, and her husband, José Viana, who leads the office of English-language acquisition in the Education Department.

The Vianas, who came to the Ed. Department from North Carolina, have ties to an influential Beltway power couple. José Viana’s sister, Mercedes Schlapp, is the director of strategic communications at the White House. Her husband, Matt Schlapp, is the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which organizes the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

Related Reading

The Controversial Couple Heading Trump’s Hispanic Education Efforts

Jason Botel, One of Trump’s Original Education Appointees, to Leave Dept.

Presidential Advisers on Black, Latino, and Asian Students Say Trump Admin. Ignoring Them

Photo: Andrea Ramirez has been tapped by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to serve as interim executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. -- U.S. Department of Education handout

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.