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U.S. Secretary of education and learning Betsy DeVos has displayed how politically potent and also polarizing principles like school choice can be when the publicly attaches lock so strong to a very visible person. So through the Iowa caucuses upon us, let’s permit ourselves to wonder: Who can be the following secretary that education?

We asked number of lobbyists, analysts, and also others for your responses to that question; they speak to united state on lift in order to speak candidly. Some of the name they argued have come up in the past. To be clear, though, none of the world we talked to work directly for the democratic or Republican campaigns. So possibly don’t do triumphant or despondent tiktok videos around any that the surname we mention just yet. And of course the names listed below don’t constitute any kind of sort of considerable list.

One thing we heard consistently: In part due come Democrats’ mindset towards and also public statements about DeVos, a autonomous president-elect is specifically likely to pick someone that is or has actually recently been a practitioner and also worked in the public education sector. But it’s additionally fair come ponder even if it is the following secretary (whether the or she works for a Democrat or Republican) will hail native a higher education background, provided all the fist on the 2020 campaign trail to student debt and also the price of greater education. DeVos herself has recently demonstrated the the secretary frequently has much an ext authority over higher education 보다 over K-12.


“It’s not something that I would certainly predict, but it’s something that I would certainly not be surprised to watch happen,” one human being said that a nominee coming from greater education. “To it is in honest, ns think it would be a way move.”

A final caveat: Former Vice chairman Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren that Massachusetts, come name just two top-tier autonomous candidates, have actually promised they would appoint who with endure teaching in a publicly school. (Warren has also publicized an additional prerequisite for her nominee.) will certainly they pole to the promise? will certainly others hew to the same or a comparable pledge concerning people indigenous public school backgrounds?

Here are few of the surname that come up during our conversations:

If a Democrat Wins in 2020

• State education Leaders

Maybe girlfriend missed it as soon as a presidential candidate praised a top state education official. However that’s what Sen. Amy Klobuchar did last summer once talking about her house state that Minnesota, saying in July, “We put in ar a union member and also leader as education and learning commissioner.”


Klobuchar to be referring to Mary Cathryn Ricker, who was tapped because that the write-up by Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, last year. She previously served together executive vice chairman of the American Federation of Teachers before working in Minnesota’s education and learning department, and she’s a former classroom teacher. So choose Ricker, or someone with a comparable background, would send a clear blog post that teachers’ unions would have actually a friendly human being leading the education Department. (More on that below.)

One human we speak to pointed come Pedro Rivera, Pennsylvania’s state chief who was appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, in 2015. Rivera has been a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and also district superintendent before his existing job. He’s made educational equity and out-of-school determinants that impact learning public priorities for that in a method that can easily appeal to many Democrats.

“I discovered him pretty impressive when I heard that at several of the events,” this person told us. “That is something that you would desire in a secretary. You’d want them to have a clear racial-equity lens.” Jeffrey C. Riley, the Massachusetts state cook who formerly led turnaround initiatives in the Lawrence, Mass., district, additionally came up in a conversation.

Others who’ve taken over as state chiefs in current years who could likewise be in the mix include two elected leaders, Tony Thurmond of California and also Kathy Hoffman of Arizona. Both won challenging contests in 2018—though castle were difficult for various reasons—and might be checked out as climbing stars. Hoffman is a Democrat; Thurmond’s office is nonpartisan, but he winner his race with solid union support over Marshall Tuck and served as a Democrat in the state legislature. Hoffman’s candidacy in 2018 attracted strength from a fairly robust #RedForEd activity in Arizona.

All of the above state chiefs have actually different levels of suffer teaching and working directly in or through schools. Amongst the names we mentioned, Rivera has been at his project the longest, since 2015. Hoffman, Ricker, and Thurmond have been in their positions because that a little over a year. Their brief tenures could be a factor in decisions around education secretary nominees. (More on the below.)

Former U.S. Secretary of education John B. King Jr. Was brand-new York’s education and learning chief before heading come Washington, very first as education Secretary Arne Duncan’s adviser and then together secretary under chairman Barack Obama, so it’s no unprecedented. But state chiefs periodically don’t garner the very same attention together those functioning in closer proximity to schools.


“It’s kind of a monster position,” one human being said. “It doesn’t have actually the glamour of a Chicago or Houston superintendent.”

Speaking of i beg your pardon ...

• district Leaders

A big-city superintendent who has actually some name-recognition in the education world could acquire the nod, as with Rod Paige (Houston, was education and learning secretary under chairman George W. Bush) and also Arne Duncan (Chicago, offered under Obama) have actually in the past. A few district superintendents who could fit the bill on that basis—in alphabet order—include Richard Carranza of brand-new York City, Alberto Carvalho of Miami-Dade, Brenda Cassellius of Boston, and Denise Juneau of Seattle.

Each of them brings various strengths and also weaknesses to the table. Carranza, because that example, previously led Houston schools, which provides him endure as the superintendent of 2 of the biggest districts in the country. He’s additionally sparked a controversial debate about school integration, which has had large moments in the democratic presidential primary. Carvalho has actually a large national profile, although that turned under the opportunity to lead the big Apple’s public colleges at the critical moment.

Meanwhile, both Cassellius and also Juneau have previously offered as state superintendents, which can prove advantageous at the education and learning Department. (Juneau unsuccessfully ran for a U.S. House seat when serving as Montana state chef in 2016.)

• Governors, Past and also Present

One surname that come up in a few conversations is Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin. A Democrat who beat Republican Gov. Scott walker in the state’s 2018 gubernatorial election, Evers previously served together the state’s elected schools superintendent. Less prominently, the was also president the the board of directors of chef State School officers for a stretch during the Obama administration. He also happens to acquire on well with the Wisconsin teachers’ union.

All those bona fides might come into play if Evers decides that doesn’t want to continually fight through Wisconsin republic who regulate the state legislature and also would rather take another job. However, Evers just took office in 2019 and also may decide he doesn’t desire to leave office simply halfway with his very first term.

“I would certainly love Tony. I have a high regard for him,” one human being said. “I uncover that he has actually an impressive composure and capability to articulate the issue, and also reflect the diversity of civilization he represents.”


We stated Gov. Tim Walz above; he formerly taught high college social researches in Minnesota, and one person we spoke v floated him as a feasible pick. Walz likewise served in congress from 2007 to 2019, once he took end as governor at around the exact same time Evers did.

Governors have the right to make attractive candidates due to the fact that of your political acumen and also records and experience leading large organizations; President bill Clinton picked Richard Riley, south Carolina’s former governor, and also Riley continued to be for Clinton’s whole presidency. However there aren’t countless Democratic governors who aren’t in their very first terms, and among those who are veterans, those favor Andrew Cuomo of new York and Jay Inslee the Washington, may not be great fits. (Inslee, if he wants a cabinet job, could be a much more natural to the right for internal secretary, for example.)

Ex-governors who can come increase in the conversation encompass Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, who’s right now running because that president and clearly has his eye on a potential Washington role, and Jack Markell of Delaware, who made education policy among his signature issues. Yet it’s not clear the they would certainly excite many Democrats or satisfy stated desires around wanting a former educator to lead the department.

We mentioned short tenures earlier. Democrats’ ranking at the state level to be hit difficult by the GOP tide in the 2010 midterms, and also for the most part they’ve struggled to comprise those losses; the 2018 midterm election was the an initial banner election cycle because that state democrats in part time. That way many autonomous officeholders in says are pretty new in their jobs, and also might not be or feel all set for a run to the commonwealth government.

• federal Lawmakers

There no a large clutch the Senate Democrats who are organic candidates for the job. Indeed, in the history of the U.S. Department of Education, no one has actually jumped directly from serving in congress to ending up being education secretary.

Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado might slot in reasonably well because that candidates in the regarded “moderate” lane, back remember that’s assuming that falls short in his long-shot bid for the presidency. The ex-superintendent of Denver schools has underscored his emphasis on problems like early-childhood education and school segregation together a presidential candidate. However, for some Democrats, his reasonably strong support for charters and Obama-era accountability policies could be pond on the chalkboard.

“That’s a opportunity if you have a Buttigieg or Biden,” one human told us about Bennet, referring to former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg. “But Biden’s ~ above the record about the classroom suffer thing, and that’s no a box Bennet checks. I think that’s a lengthy shot other than for anyone choose a theoretical Buttigieg .”


If a new Democratic president wants to reach into the House, one name that might come increase is Rep. Donna Shalala of Florida, who a former president that the university of Miami as well as ex-Health and also Human solutions chief under Clinton. Shalala would likely be a signal the next administration wants to emphasis on greater education. However, Shalala was elected to congress in 2018, for this reason she’d need to agree to reduced her Capitol Hill job pretty short.

But yes sir someone else who can fit the present mood the the democratic Party more than either Bennet or Shalala: Rep. Jahana Hayes the Connecticut.

Hayes, the 2016 nationwide Teacher that the Year who prefer Shalala was chosen to the residence in 2018. You can remember she for confronting DeVos about her view on arming institution staff, an episode that was no accident; she’s consistently talked out versus DeVos’ record and also in favor of an ext resources for schools with large shares of students indigenous low-income backgrounds. Would certainly she desire to leaving Congress after just two years, though?

“She ran for Congress and got elected and also became a substantial champion because that the policy around education and what’s needed,” one lobbyist said us. “She has walked the walk.”

• greater Education

So what if a Democrat transforms to the kingdom of greater education? 2 names that come up in 2016 as possible picks because that Hillary Clinton during her presidential bid might come up again: Freeman Hrabowski, the long-time president of the university of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Janet Napolitano, the chairman of the college of California system.

Hrabowski has actually led UMBC, a publicly university, for 28 years, and also during his tenure he and also the university have garnered national recognition. Probably his signature success has been UMBC’s work with black students in the STEM fields; in 2012, the Baltimore sunlight wrote that more black students graduated with science and technology degrees from UMBC 보다 from any other non-historically black university in the state. Other universities choose Harvard and MIT too organizations choose the Carnegie corporation of brand-new York have recognized his work.

Napolitano formerly served together Homeland security secretary in the Obama management after serving together Arizona’s democratic governor. She’s stepping under as the UC system president this coming August and also has stated she’s interested in teaching and also writing after that, so a go back to a White home cabinet article might not be in the cards. Napolitano functioned to expand accessibility to the UC mechanism to neighborhood college students and defended the legal rights of undocumented students to financial aid, yet she likewise received criticisms over the system’s finances throughout her tenure.


One person puckishly discussed that Democrats’ fondness for Harvard grandees might lead a autonomous president-elect to take a look at Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard first-ever female president (Faust left that task in 2018). Picking someone favor Faust would certainly cut versus what a various observer said us might be the inclination by a Democrat to choose someone indigenous a public college or university.

• Other

Linda Darling-Hammond came up as a potential education and learning secretary nominee for a democratic president in 2008. She come up again in 2016. And also if a Democrat wins the presidency, she might be in the mix one an ext time.

Darling-Hammond is the founder, president, and CEO that the learning Policy Institute, which concentrates on conducting and sharing education policy research around teacher quality and recruitment, curriculum, assessment, and also more. She’s the president of the California state board of education. She to be the education policy leader because that President Barack Obama’s shift team after ~ his 2008 win. She’s a previous public institution teacher who assisted start a charter school—which, it have to be said, do headlines because that the wrong reasons in the past due to scholastic struggles. In short, she has years of endure in education and learning policy, politics, and also practice. And she’s high-profile enough for a democratic president-elect to take it notice.

In addition, Darling-Hammond “can boast long, near ties come the unions and certainly commands their respect,” one human said.

We’ve gained this far without mentioning Lily Eskelsen García and Randi Weingarten. The presidents the the National education and learning Association and American Federation that Teachers might seem like natural candidates in a autonomous administration. Yet Weingarten, despite enthusiastically backing Clinton’s candidacy in 2016, refuse having any interest in being education and learning secretary in a hypothetical Clinton administration. It’s no clear what if anything has actually changed, particularly when union presidents are likely to it is in quite prominent in a new Democratic management without having actually to sit in the secretary’s seat. Choosing either one of them can seem politics obtuse come some and invite all-too-easy pushback.

If a Republican Wins in 2020

It’s a little more challenging to speculate on who President Trump would appoint to as education and learning secretary in a hypothetical second term, in component because of his unconventional style of assembling a cabinet. The president does have actually some main opponents, however they aren’t expected to pose a serious difficulty to the nomination, and many share similar views about issues favor school an option and the federal duty in education.

The sources we speak to around Trump grouped your guesses no by skilled background but by different approaches Trump could take in choosing an appointee.

• will Betsy DeVos offer a second Term?

Education plan watchers throughout the ideology system spectrum speculate the DeVos will finish out Trump’s first term and return come her home state of Michigan if over there is a second one.

DeVos, asked in ~ an education Writers Association event in might if she would certainly stick approximately for four much more years said: “I’m not certain my husband would certainly be OK with that.”

It’s typical for cabinet location to turnover between terms, and its rare for education and learning secretaries to offer as lengthy as Duncan, who remained in the function for nearly seven years, do him one of the longest-serving members of the Obama cabinet. Still, one human believes DeVos may feel a sense of duty to continue serving if trump card asks her straight to perform so.

• Big, Splashy Names

In other cabinet roles, Trump has actually a background of originally appointing a visible, known human to the duty at very first and then replacing that human by elevating who from within the department as soon as there is turnover. Would certainly the same take place with the education and learning Department? Or would certainly a new term and a fresh cabinet lead the president to look for out a an ext visible candidate? Folks us spoke to no sure.

If the president wanted to do a large splash, he could pick a candidate v a background of fighting high-profile battles in the education and learning space, like former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, or Liberty university President Jerry Falwell Jr.

Walker gained national fist for his successful push to strip cumulative bargaining civil liberties for his state’s teachers and other public employee in 2011. The trump card administration, and DeVos in particular, have painted teachers unions as barriers to enhancing the nation’s schools.


DeSantis climbed to prominence with an advertisement from his campaign in the 2018 governor’s race that linked him come Trump. And in the moment since, he’s tackled a variety of education issues, consisting of choice, typical Core State Standards, and also school safety. But he may be reluctant to leave a high-profile governor’s position, specifically so beforehand in his tenure.

In 2016, Falwell told the associated Press trumped initially readily available him the education secretary job, however he turn it down for personal reasons. Falwell has appeared with trump card at campaign events and also championed his approach to totally free speech top top campus, however he’s faced some debate over his leadership of Liberty University and a lawsuit centered on a disputed organization deal, and also that might make a Senate confirmation procedure pretty turbulent, one person told us.

• knowledgeable Options

If Trump opted to choose someone with much more experience overseeing an education and learning department, he can tap someone like Tenessee Sen. Lamar Alexander or Assistant Secretary for Elementary and an additional Education open minded Brogan, human being told us.

Alexander, that does not plan to seek one more term in the Senate, has experience together president the the college of Tennessee and also as George H.W. Bush’s education secretary. That chairs the Senate education committee and also had a key role in the passage of the bipartisan Every student Succeeds Act. There’s criterion for reappointing a former shrub pick: Attorney general Bill Barr also previously served in that cabinet. Yet Alexander, regarded as one “institutionalist” through deep plan knowledge, may be frustrated through Trump’s unconventional strategy to governing, plan watchers predicted.

Brogan, who was shown to his current duty in June 2018, formerly served together chancellor that the Pennsylvania and also Florida college systems, lieutenant governor of Florida, Florida commissioner of education, and in a variety of K-12 education and learning roles. He’s played a crucial role in DeVos’s education and learning department, and also he would bring a wide base the institutional understanding with him as an appointee, human being told us.

• various other Options

Other possibilities that gained some attention: former Rep. Luke Messer, R-Indiana, Gerard Robinson, or someone through a greater interest in greater education.


Messer is a lobbyist and former congressman who has actually been a huge champion of a variety of school choice initiatives, putting him in line with among Trump’s crucial education priorities.

Robinson previously aided the Trump transition team on education issues. He is executive, management director that the center for progressing Opportunity, an education organization the was produced through a partnership v the Thurgood Marshall university Fund, the Charles Koch Foundation, and Koch Industries. He formerly served as the education commissioner in Florida and the secretary of education in Virginia, which could be valuable experience in ~ a time when states have much more authority in education policy, our resources told us.

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It’s possible Trump may additionally look to who with much more of a profile in the greater education room to assist tackle concerns like federal student loan programs, one human said, noting that much of DeVos’ background and advocacy during her time together secretary has concentrated on K-12 issues.

But as one human being put it to us, “We’ve never had somebody prefer Betsy before. Ns wouldn’t put too lot stock in what’s taken place before.”