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Who Will be Obama’s Secretary of Education?

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an excellent article about Barack Obama’s potential choices for the next Secretary of Education.  His choice will be important for student loan activists because the Sec. of Education advises the President on education policy and is in charge of overseeing federal education funding. 

The Chronicle article notes that most past picks have been experts at the K-12 level rather than the higher education level.  They list several possiblities including:

  • Linda Darling Hamilton, an Obama campaign advisor and Stanford education professor who has focused on improving secondary schools
  • Arne Duncan, the chief executive of the Chicago public school system, whose work Obama has praised in the past
  • James B. Hunt, a former governor who served on the Commission on the Future of Higher Education and has focused on early childhood education and teacher quality
  • Andrew J. Rotherham, another Obama advisor who serves on the Virginia Board of Education, and
  • Jonathan Schnur, a former Clinton admistration advisor who has worked on urban schooling

The Chronicle article also mentions Joel Klein, the Chancellor of New York City’s Department of Education.  The Huffington Post reported on October 31 that Klein was rumored to be on Obama’s short list for the position.  HuffPost has also mentioned Caroline Kennedy as a possible choice. 

Inside Higher Ed. mentions Johnnetta Cole, former president of Spelman and Bennett Colleges, Geoffrey Canada, who has worked on childhood education in Harlem, and John H. Jackson who has focused on at-risk youth. 

As you can see, speculation is running rampant – I’m actually leaving out a number of other people whose names have been mentioned – which leads me to believe either that Obama hasn’t yet developed a short-list yet or is keeping it a very closely held secret.  But all of the above people do have in common a focus on K-12 education; I suppose that’s to be expected after the debacle that was the No Child Left Behind act, but it would be nice to have a Sec. of Education who understood and prioritized the higher education system.  But then, college is kind of a moot point if we can’t get people through high school.  What do you all think?

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