U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan just announced the appointment of Jo Anderson Jr., the executive director of the Illinois Education Association, as senior adviser to the department. He’ll be in charge of outreach to teachers and teachers’ unions.
There have been some rumblings about this, so while the appointment isn’t exactly a shock, I’m told there was no analogous position under the Bush administration, which had a rocky relationship with the two national teachers’ unions.
A couple of interesting things here. First, looks like we’re going to get a lot of Illinois folks coming to Washington just like the “Texas contingent” under Bush. And second, I’ll be curious to see how having a union official in the department influences policy development around the performance-pay and ineffective-teacher-dismissal proposals in Obama’s speech.
While Anderson will clearly have the secretary’s ear, I also have to wonder if it will be harder for the unions to say no thanks when Anderson pushes them to get on board with some of the administration’s teacher ideas.
UPDATE: Here’s what John I. Wilson, the executive director of the National Education Association, had to say about the appointment:
“Jo Anderson is an innovator. They could not have picked anyone better who is visionary and has demonstrated through deed his commitment to all children.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.