OBAMA JOB WATCH: Department of Education (Updated July 17)

Print More

July 17

Obama's choice for undersecretary of education, Martha Kanter, has been confirmed. Since 2003, Kanter had been chancellor of Foothill-De Anza Community College District, which is based in Los Altos Hills, Calif., and serves approximately 44,000 students each year.

Kanter serves on the executive board of the League for Innovation in the Community College and is the vice president of the CEO Board of the Community College League of California.

Her selection was lauded in an editorial by the San Jose Mercury News when Obama made the announcement in April. "If Duncan and Obama are serious about using federal dollars to push innovation, promote public service and improve college and vocational graduation rates, they turned to the right person," the editorial stated.

Two other Education nominees should be confirmed by August: Deputy Secretary of Education   Tony Miller, a veteran financial manager and corporate strategist who helped improve the budgets and metrics of the Los Angeles and Santa Monica public schools; and Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, the superintendent of Pomona Unified School District in California, a district with over 33,000 students and more than 40 schools

June 30: Education Secretary Arne Duncan filled several high-level positions at the department in May. He tapped Margot Rogers, a special assistant on education at the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to be his chief of staff. At Gates, Rogers managed and co-led the development of the foundation's five-year education strategy and staff realignment.

Judy Wurtzel has resigned her position at the Aspen Institute and returned to work at the Department of Education as deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. 

Duncan brought on Kevin Jennings to be assistant deputy secretary of education for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, which is very much an office in flux. In his budget for 2010, Obama proposed to eliminate the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities state formula grants program, which is currently funded at $295 million. 


May 11: Education Secretary Arne Duncan welcomed financial aid expert Bob Shireman to his team in a more permanent way in late April.

Shireman was on the Obama transition team for the Department of Education, then was hired as a part-time consultant for Duncan to help oversee things while he staffed up.

Now, he's become a part of the leadership; he's been nominated to serve as Duncan's deputy undersecretary. Shireman will "advise the Department on college financial issues and other higher education initiatives," according to the department's website.

He emerged as a leader on access to college for low-income students while serving as the first legislative director for former Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.), where Shireman pioneered an overhaul of the federal student loan program. He then served as an education adviser to former President Bill Clinton.

After stints with the James Irvine Foundation and the Aspen Institute, Shireman founded the Institute for College Access and Success, which advocates making higher education more affordable.

April 6: John Q. Easton, the executive director of the Consortium on Chicago Schools, is the nominee to be director of the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education. Easton and the consortium had a close relationship with Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan when he was CEO of Chicago Public Schools. Easton served two stints as director of research, analysis and assessment for Chicago Public Schools; from 1994 to 1997 and from 2001 to 2002.

IES funds research on academic achievement and evaluates related federal programs. Last summer, it released report entitled Enhanced Academic Instruction in After-School Programs.

February 2: Youth Today covered the background of  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in this story written last month. Duncan has already made a few key hires for the youth work field.

Carmel Martin will be Duncan's assistant secretary for planning, evaluation and policy development, a job currently held by Bill Evers. The office spent a lot of its effort over the past four years evaluating the No Child Left Behind Act (there are now seven volumes on implementation of the act on the office's website).

Martin is certainly familiar with the nuts and bolts of No Child Left Behind. Like Employment and Training Administration candidate Jane Oates, who was a leader for NCLB author Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; Martin served as Kennedy's chief education advisor. Her other experience on the Senate side includes stints as counsel to Sens. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.).

After leaving the hill in 2004, Martin became the associate director for domestic policy at the Center for American Progress (CAP).

Martin also has executive branch credentials. She was a trial attorney for the Civil Rights Division, Educational Opportunities Section at the Department of Justice.

"She's an excellent pick" because of her "dual experience," says Afterschool Alliance CEO Jodi Grant. "Being a policy wonk [at CAP] gave her time to think through ideas, and she understands the hill and how to move legislation through Congress."

To head up civil rights for Duncan, Obama is expected to nominate Russlynn Ali. Ali is vice president of the Education Trust and founding director of the Education Trust-West. The Trust promotes high academic achievement for all students at all levels with an emphasis on minority communities.

Ali's resume also includes time as liaison to President Marian Wright Edelmen at the Children's Defense Fund in Washington, and as chief of staff to the president of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education.

 

May 11: Education Secretary Arne Duncan welcomed financial aid expert Bob Shireman to his team in a more permanent way in late April.

Shireman was on the Obama transition team for the Department of Education, then was hired as a part-time consultant for Duncan to help oversee things while he staffed up.

Now, he's become a part of the leadership; he's been nominated to serve as Duncan's deputy undersecretary. Shireman will "advise the Department on college financial issues and other higher education initiatives," according to the department's website.

He emerged as a leader on access to college for low-income students while serving as the first legislative director for former Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.), where Shireman pioneered an overhaul of the federal student loan program. He then served as an education adviser to former President Bill Clinton.

After stints with the James Irvine Foundation and the Aspen Institute, Shireman founded the Institute for College Access and Success, which advocates making higher education more affordable.