Ted Mitchell, former state board president, confirmed as under secretary of education


Ted Mitchell was confirmed Thursday as under secretary of education.

Former State Board of Education president Ted Mitchell was confirmed Thursday as under secretary of education, the third-highest ranking official at the U.S. Department of Education.

The Senate unanimously confirmed Mitchell’s appointment at a hearing in Washington, D.C., based on a nomination from President Barack Obama in the fall.

Mitchell, who will oversee higher education in the federal department, has been an advocate for education reform in California and nationally. He was president of the State Board of Education from 2008 through 2010 and was president of Occidental College in Los Angeles from 1999 to 2005.

He left Occidental to become chief executive officer of the NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit that funds innovative educational programs targeting low-income students. Mitchell also held posts at the School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles and in the education department at Dartmouth College.

He replaces Martha Kanter, former chancellor of the DeAnza-Foothill Community College District in Los Altos Hills. Kanter, who was appointed under secretary in 2009, announced her resignation in August and said she would return to academia.

“(Mitchell’s) experience as a college president and administrator, as well as his unwavering commitment to equity for every student, makes him uniquely suited for this role,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. “He will lead us through this important time in higher education as we continue to work toward the President’s goal to produce the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world by 2020.”

Filed under: State Education Policy


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6 Responses to “Ted Mitchell, former state board president, confirmed as under secretary of education”

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  1. Floyd Thursby on May 12, 2014 at 3:21 pm05/12/2014 3:21 pm

    • 000

    Gary, you always find some excuse to oppose any reformer. When 22 of 22 parents, very grass roots as you would approve of, wanted my son’s 1st grade teacher fired for showing up 50 of 180 days, every bureaucrat we met said due to union rules, State law, nothing could be done. No billionaires were involved, it was all public school parents. Where were you? Maybe the 750k is unfair and corrupt and maybe a billionaire is helping with Vergara, but what other option do we have? When we do grass roots, people say it’s impossible. It takes money. In the ’80s California was the envy of the nation in education, and now we’re near the bottom, and the union has pretty much run the show and gotten everything it wants. We need reform, and if it is imperfect so be it. If you have a better way, propose it, I think you just hope every reformer goes away so you can cling to the status quo which has failed us, the LIFO and all the rest of it.

  2. Gary Ravani on May 12, 2014 at 12:16 pm05/12/2014 12:16 pm

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    Please see the above linked article in The Nation re Ted Mitchell’s appointment to the USDE.

    The article also noted that Mitchell’s salary with new Schools Venture Fund, as revealed in his “ethics disclosure form,” was $735,000! Two ways to look at that I guess: 1) Wow! Some part of that mix of 3/4 of a million dollars came from public school funding for “public,” non-profit, (sic) charter schools; and, 2) Wow! 3/4 of a million dollars…just think what it could have been if it was a “for profit!”


    • Don on May 12, 2014 at 4:26 pm05/12/2014 4:26 pm

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      Do you have any evidence that New Schools Venture Fund is supported with public dollars? I cannot say definitively that it isn’t, but I see no indication to conclude that Ted Mitchell’s salary is in any part publicly funded. On the other hand, NSVF certainly has helped many charters and traditional public schools receive private funding.

    • educatorCA on Jun 12, 2014 at 3:07 pm06/12/2014 3:07 pm

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      As the name suggests, New Schools is a venture fund. It is largely supported by monies from private donors, incl. many people who work in the venture capital industry. Several members of one of the top VC firms, Kleiner Perkins, sit on the New Schools board (Byers, for instance). The fact that Mitchell was willing to give up that salary to work in the government –after having worked in higher education for decades before that–tells you a lot about what he cares about. For what it’s worth, as undersecretary, I think he will only be dealing with higher education issues (university and college) not Kindergarten-12th grade issues.

  3. Don on May 9, 2014 at 6:36 pm05/9/2014 6:36 pm

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    If there was any doubt about the pro-reformist bent of the Obama Administration, the appointment of Ted Mitchell should put it to rest.

  4. Bruce William Smith on May 9, 2014 at 7:44 am05/9/2014 7:44 am

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    Secretary Duncan’s restatement of President Obama’s overarching educational goal is a pleasant improvement. Previously the publicly stated goal had been to lead the world in the percentage of college graduates produced; here it appears as “to produce the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world by 2020.” This is an important revision. Data from PIAAC, the OECD’s Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, show that secondary school graduates in Japan and the Netherlands are more skilled than tertiary graduates in Italy and Spain; the formerly stated goal and its associated metric put the United States on the path of Italy and Spain, whereas the new statement of the goal should have us learning from other, better systems, such as those of Singapore and Switzerland, with much lower rates of youth unemployment and much higher levels of prosperity.

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