Who might serve as the next president's secretary of education? Peter Cunningham served in the Department of Education during President Obama's first term. Now, in a column for The 74, Cunningham is taking a stab at predicting who the front-runners are.


Tom Boasberg, superintendent of Denver Public Schools: Boasberg has expanded charter schools in Denver but still maintained good relations with the local teachers' unions. Student achievement there is on the rise.

Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford professor: Darling-Hammond seemed to be on Obama's shortlist, but ultimately didn't make the cut. She started a charter school, although it eventually closed. She's also backed away from standardized testing, something Cunningham says should help with a particular education wing of the Democratic Party.

Kaya Henderson, chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools: Henderson is leaving her post, effective Oct. 1, and it's unclear what her future plans are. She was not asked to leave her position and is generally well-liked in Washington, D.C. with something of a national profile. "Henderson has achieved nation-leading results and would be an outstanding choice," Cunningham says.

Freeman Hrabowski, president of The University of Maryland, Baltimore County: With all the focus during the Democratic primary on student debt, it might be wise to pick someone with higher education administrative experience. Cunningham says the Maryland "state system has worked harder than most to control costs." Hrabowski has held his position since 1992.

John King, secretary of education: Hey, why not let the current guy keep his job? After all, he only started in January. "Clinton could easily pick a get-along, go-along type who doesn't want to make waves, though it runs up against her activist nature," Cunningham says, and that describes King fairly well. It would be hard to argue that anyone else on this shortlist is more qualified for the job.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers: Cunningham says Weingarten might have a shot if Democrats take control of the Senate. Weingarten is good at "talking a good reform game while staying in the good graces of her more militant members," Cunningham says, something that would be important as secretary of education.


Cunningham's input on the GOP side of the equation is a lot shorter, partly because Donald Trump is often very quiet on education. Even if he won, it might be hard for Trump to get the best conservative education reformers to serve in his administration. Regardless, Cunningham suggests three possibilities: Hanna Skandera, New Mexico's secretary of education; Lisa Keegan, board chair of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers; and Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Correction: A previous version of this story inaccurately described Hrabowski as the former president of the University of Maryland at Baltimore

Jason Russell is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.