November 7, 2020
Speculation has been building in the education world for a while about president-elect Joe Biden’s possible pick for education secretary. If Biden has a Democratic Senate to work with, his job would be relatively straightforward politically. But it appears there will be two Senate run-off elections now set to take place in Georgia in January.
What happens if the GOP, whose Senate candidates won the majority of votes in the Nov. 3 contests, wins both seats and maintains a narrow majority in the Senate?
If they hold the Senate, Republicans would have significant leverage in decisions about who serves in key Biden administration posts. There’s already talk about how a GOP Senate could make life quite difficult for Biden’s transition plans.
And while education secretary is not a top cabinet post, there’s an unusual potential X-factor: Some Republicans might decide that a little revenge is in order for the unprecedented hurricane of opposition U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos faced when she was picked for the Trump administration back in 2017.
Biden has already promised that his secretary of education would be a former public school educator; a top adviser declined to clarify recently if that meant someone from the K-12 world or higher education. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, as well as National Education Association President Becky Pringle and Pringle’s immediate predecessor, Lily Eskelsen García, meet that standard. Weingarten and García are reportedly in the running for the job. Their names have come up in such conversations for many months.