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NCLB Outrages

K-12 Chief Tapped as Education Dept. Takes Shape

Education Week emphasizes abuse by early educators and the Latina background of Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, Duncan's pick for assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, in charge of implementing K-12 policy under the No Child Left Behind Act.

According to This Week In Education blogger Russo, the pick is a surprise, not exactly at the top of peoples' lists.

She's got less than three years at the helm of a smallish district (Pomona), before that a stint with a smallish foundation (Stupski), and little if any experience with high schools (supposedly the focus of a lot of attention in the new NCLB). She's got a PhD in Philosophy (or Education, depending on who's talking).

But she's not a Broad Prize winner, or a nationally known researcher. She's got a bad blog. So how'd she get the job? Being from California doesn't hurt. Ditto for the foundation connections. She's pretty clearly an elementary school person, also an advantage. Everyone will deny it, but female and Latina is part of the equation, too. Especially the Latina part. She's only the second Latina (the other is Gabby Gomez for leg affairs).

Funny that he'd say she's not a Broad Prize winner and not mention her very real connection to Broad.

Read on. We pick up the story midway in the Education Week article.

by Michele McNeil

. . . She got her superintendentâs job, in Californiaâs 30,000-student Pomona Unified School District, through a nontraditional route: She spent a year and a half at a private education foundation [Stupski Foundation] before winning a spot in the 2006 Broad Superintendents Academy, which trains emerging district leaders. [emphasis added]

âShe had ârising starâ written all over her face,â Tim Quinn, the managing director of alumni-support services for the Broad Center, said of Ms. Melendez, who would not comment for this story because of her pending confirmation. Mr. Quinn said that as an assistant secretary, she would confront a steep learning curve, but âshe is going to understand, walking in the door, the issues.â

Ms. Melendez, 50, fit the broad [indeed!]job criteria that Mr. Duncan had established for department appointments, which he says were more about character, drive, and general smarts than about possessing certain education credentials or representing a particular constituency.

— Michele McNeil
Education Week


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