Report: Former Jeb Bush Staffer Considered for Top Education Post


New Mexico’s secretary of education is reportedly being considered for a top post in the Trump administration’s Education Department.

A report in Politico Friday suggests the former Florida deputy education commissioner under Gov. Jeb Bush, Hanna Skandera, is being considered for education deputy secretary.

Skandera was also a senior policy adviser and deputy chief of staff at the education department under former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who served under President George W. Bush.

Like Jeb Bush, Skandera is a proponent of the Common Core standards and head of the governing board of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of the two federally funded test consortia that developed assessments aligned with Common Core.

“New Mexico’s progress has been good overall, particularly among districts that embrace reform,” Skandera said, according to the Albuquerque Journal. “I’m very encouraged. On all measures, we are seeing the improvements.”

President-elect Donald Trump vowed to get rid of Common Core, which he frequently described as a “disaster” while on the campaign trail. He also said he would dismantle the U.S. Department of Education. Though his education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos has funded and served organizations that promote Common Core – including Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education – since her nomination, she has denied she supports the controversial standards. At a rally with Trump in Michigan, she added it was time to “put an end to the federalized Common Core.”

Upon DeVos’ nomination, KOB4 in Albuquerque reported Skandera praised Trump’s pick, saying that while she did not know her well, she believed DeVos’ policies would not change Common Core in New Mexico.

Jeb Bush responded to DeVos’ nomination by saying she was an “extraordinary choice” and exclaiming, “I’m so excited.”

The Politico report also indicated that former Louisiana Superintendent Paul Pastorek is under consideration for the post of general counsel with the DeVos Education Department.

Pastorek is also closely associated with Common Core consortium PARCC. According to the report:

He has held a number of education reform leadership positions, serving as co-executive director of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, for example. Pastorek helped found the PARCC consortium and he’s chairman of PARCC Inc.’s board of directors. And — perhaps most importantly for this job — he has had a long legal career, and was appointed as general counsel to NASA in 2002.

Education Week reports that other staffers for President Bush and former Gov. Jeb Bush are assisting Trump’s education team with the transition.

“These folks could just be helping the Trump team get up to speed on policy, choose staff, or brainstorm its early proposals,” Education Week observes. “But some of them could also end up filling the ranks at the education department, which will need to hire 150 political appointees.”

Names included as Trump education team helpers are: Josh Venable, who – like DeVos – worked with Jeb Bush at his foundation, and Lauren Maddox, an assistant secretary for communications in the Education Department under George W. Bush, and currently a principal at the Podesta Group, an organization founded by Tony Podesta, the brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta.

Terrell Halaksa, who served as an assistant secretary in the George W. Bush Education Department, is also reportedly assisting the Trump education team, as are Rob Goad, a staffer for Indiana Rep. Luke Messer, who is reportedly leading the education transition.

Townsend McNitt is reportedly advising DeVos as she tours Capitol Hill. McNitt served as a deputy chief of staff in the George W. Bush Education Department, where she helped implement No Child Left Behind. Since then, she has been working as a “strategic consultant,” and, in 2011, worked for Chiefs for Change, another of Jeb Bush’s education organizations and an offshoot of his foundation that consists of key state education chiefs.


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