During the Presidential transition the President-Elect starts to put together his administration, and many wonder who President-Elect Donald Trump will appoint to become the Secretary of Education. Who he appoints will send a signal of whether it will be business as usual or if he means business when it comes to shrinking the federal role in education.
Outside of hoping he appoints no one (I’m not sure that’s a great idea while the U.S. Department of Education still exists). Here are some names that are floating out there.
- Dr. Ben Carson – former presidential candidate and neurosurgeon (Update: A Carson aide says he’s not interested in serving on Trump’s cabinet.)
- Williamson Evers – Education expert at Hoover Institution, a think tank. He served as an assistant secretary of education under President George W. Bush. He serves on Trump’s transition team.
WFYI in Indianapolis said that at a Education Writers Forum held in DC on Monday these names were being thrown around by Vic Klatt, a principal of Penn Hill Group and former GOP staff director for the U.S. House Committee on Education.
- Tony Bennett – ousted Indiana Superintendent of Public Education who later resigned as Florida Commissioner of Education after being investigated for fraud.
- Congressman Luke Messer (R-Indiana) – serves on the House Education & Workforce Committee
Alyson Klein at Education Week speculated:
- the list above and then adds Gerard Robinson who served as a Florida Education Commissioner and former Virginia Secretary of Education. Robinson currently serves on Trump’s transition team. He has also been a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Brett Baier of Fox News floated these two names other than Carson:
- Eva Moskowitz – the CEO and Founder of Success Academy Charter Schools
- Michelle Rhee – Founder of Students First, former Chancellor of Washington, DC Public Schools
I wouldn’t know what to expect from a Secretary Carson. While he is a nice man, I think he would be out of his depth at the U.S. Department of Education. A Tony Bennett appointment would send all of the wrong signals that status quo will be maintained. I couldn’t take Trump seriously when he says he is against Common Core if he appoints a pro-Common Core advocate who lost his election in Indiana largely because of that support.
I don’t know much about Congressman Messer other than he is part of the committee that helped usher in the Every Student Succeeds Act and was a vocal advocate for it. No thank you.
Gerard Robinson’s time in Florida was marred with controversy when FCAT scores collapsed. He is also part of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change. He isn’t the person I would be looking for.
Eva Moskovitz’s involvement with charter schools and the fact she’s liberal would sink her potential nomination as she would take flak from both sides of the aisle. Michelle Rhee pushes corporate school reform and is against parental assessment opt-outs, not to mention, is pro-Common Core. Yeah… no thanks.
I think the best candidate for the job would be Williamson Evers, who has been a staunch critic of the Common Core State Standards and its aligned assessments. I hope that he gets the appointment, and he has prior experience with the U.S. Department of Education which would be an asset I would think.
Perhaps under a Trump administration Evers will be the Secretary of Education who padlocks the front doors of a closed U.S. Department of Education, but I’m not going to hold my breath on that.
Update: Additional names added to the rumor mill. I want to emphasize these are just rumored to be on the list.
- Tony Zeiss, a former president of Central Piedmont Community College
- Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, now the president of the Purdue University System.
- Governor Scott Walker (R-WI)
- Hanna Skandera, the New Mexico Secretary of Education
- Education activist Betsy DeVos
- Education activist Kevin Chavous
- Larry Arn, President of Hillsdale College
Out of these names, Dr. Arn is the only one I could get excited about. I don’t know anything about Zeiss, Daniels supported Common Core so no thanks.
Walker is a mixed bag. On one hand he was weak when it came to repealing Common Core on the other hand he could work to scale the department back. Too many question marks. Ms. Skandera is a supporter of Common Core.
I don’t know anything about Kevin Chavous, but I don’t think appointing an activist is the right way to go. Betsy DeVos… hell no.