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America Might Not Know Biden’s Choice for US Ed Sec Until January

November 15, 2020

Given President-elect Joe Biden’s “deliberative approach” in choosing his Cabinet, it seems that his selection for US ed sec may well follow the January 05, 2021, runoff elections for the two US Senate seats in Georgia.

If Democrats are tied with Republicans for the number of Senate seats– which can only happen if both Georgia Democratic contenders, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, win their races– then as president of the Senate, Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris becomes the decisive vote, thus giving Democrats de facto control.

Whether the Senate is controlled by Republicans or Democrats may well determine who, exactly, Biden is able to have confirmed in his Cabinet, including in the position of US ed sec.

Both former National Education Association (NEA) president, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, and current American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president, Randi Weingarten, have been in the news as potential candidates for US ed sec. However, I think it is a bad idea for Biden to choose either Eskelsen Garcia or Weingarten because they have both had lengthy careers in national union leadership, which would make it seem that the position of US secretary of education is little more than an extension of a national teachers union. California State Board of Ed president, Linda Darling-Hammond was also mentioned as a contender (and is also heading Biden’s education transition team, which she did for Obama in 2008); however, Darling-Hammond has clearly removed her name from consideration.

Biden could choose from any number of state education superintendents, which may or may not lead to someone with a solid history as a classroom teacher. There is also the possibility of Biden selecting someone with a higher ed background, a door apparently left open by Biden campaign national policy director, Stef Feldman.

However, NEA president Becky Pringle is convinced that Biden meant what he said about choosing a US ed sec “with experience in public education,” as EdWeek’s Andrew Ujifusa reports:

So could all that lead a President Biden to pick nominee who disagrees with the unions and their allies on key issues, in order to appease Senate Republicans?

“I don’t think he will pick someone like that,” said Becky Pringle, the president of the National Education Association, who like others spoke to us before the Associated Press called the race for Biden on Saturday. If that happened, she stressed, “I don’t believe that the secretary of education would be able to actually achieve the vision that he has set out.”

In conversations with Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden—who’s an NEA member—it’s been clear that the president-elect would pick someone “who respects our professionalism and professional authority” and also focus on civil rights and inequities in education.

“When he says he’s going to nominate an educator who’s had experience in public education, [he’s] going to do that,” Pringle said. “When he says that he’s going to nominate someone who believes that education is a public good and the foundation of our democracy, he’s going to do that.”

When it comes to his selection of our next US secretary of education, we will see where Biden’s “deliberative approach” takes him. However, that deliberation might keep us in suspense until America’s President-elect knows who will fill those two Georgia Senate seats. 

Joe Biden

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One Comment
  1. Vamos a ver, eh, vamos a ver.

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