NewSchools CEO Ted Mitchell Tapped For Dept of Ed Job

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Here's the word on the street of Washington, DC: NewSchools Venture Fund chief executive, Ted Mitchell, will be named by the Obama administration for a top-ranking job at the Department of Education, possibly as Under Secretary of Education. 

That seat is currently held by Martha J. Kanter, who announced in August that she planned to leave the administration and return to academia. Kanter, who joined the Obama administration in June 2009, was previously chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District.

Neither NewSchools Venture Fund nor Mitchell were available to comment on the news, which was first reported by Politico. A job as Under Secretary requires a Senate confirmation hearing, something which could be challenging given the Senate's rocky relationship with the Obama administration. This past summer, Mitchell relocated to the Washington, DC office of NSVF.

It's an easy bet, however, that NSVF will be on hunt for a new leader.

Mitchell is well-liked as a thoughtful yet clear-spoken leader who has kept a steady focus on student achievement. Under his tenure at NewSchools, the organization has expanded beyond funding charter schools into supporting tools for teachers. Mitchell spoke with the Wall Street Journal, noting: "We're really interested in teacher tools...There's more professional conversation going on among teachers about teaching than I've ever seen in the 20 years that I've been doing this work." 

If appointed as Under Secretary, however, Mitchell would be returning to his higher-ed roots. Although Mitchell has served as the chief executive and president of the K-12 focused NewSchools since 2005, he has a much longer record in higher education. After receiving three degrees (BA, MA, and PhD) from Stanford University, he spent a decade as professor and chair of the Department of Education at Dartmouth. He also spent six years as president of Occidental College and served in a number of other higher ed jobs.

He also has been a board member of several companies and organizations, notably: Khan Academy, New Leaders for New Schools, The Teaching Channel, ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career and The McClatchy Company.

New appointments at the Dept. of Education have moved at a glacial pace. In September, Jim Shelton was named as deputy secretary, a job he had been doing since early in the year. Similarly Richard Culatta, who has been "acting" Director of the Office of Educational Technology (a job previously filled by Karen Cator who left the administration early in the year) is official now, too: a formal announcement of his position was drown out in the hubbub of the government shutdown.

(Editor's note: EdSurge has received funding from the NSVF Seed Fund.)

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