United States Secretary of Education

The United States Secretary of Education is the head of the United States Department of Education. The Secretary advises the President on federal policies, programs, and activities related to education in the United States. As a member of the President's Executive Cabinet, this Secretary is fifteenth in the line of succession to the presidency.

The current Education Secretary is Betsy DeVos, who was nominated by President Donald Trump and approved by the Senate on February 7, 2017.

United States Secretary of Education
Seal of the United States Department of Education
Seal of the Department
Flag of the United States Secretary of Education
Flag of the Secretary
Betsy DeVos official portrait (cropped)
Betsy DeVos

since February 7, 2017
United States Department of Education
StyleMadam Secretary
Reports toPresident of the United States
SeatLyndon Baines Johnson Building, Washington, D.C.
AppointerThe President
with Senate advice and consent
Constituting instrument20 U.S.C. § 3411
FormationNovember 30, 1979
First holderShirley Hufstedler
DeputyDeputy Secretary of Education
SalaryExecutive Schedule, level I


The United States Secretary of Education is a member of the President's Cabinet and is the fifteenth in the United States presidential line of succession.[2] This Secretary deals with federal influence over education policy, and heads the United States Department of Education.[3]

The Secretary is advised by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, an advisory committee, on "matters related to accreditation and to the eligibility and certification process for institutions of higher education."[4]

List of Secretaries

Prior to the creation of the Department of Education in 1979, Education was part of the ambit of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.


  Democratic   Republican


List of Secretaries of Health, Education, and Welfare

No. Portrait Name State of residence Took office Left office President(s)
1 Hobby-Oveta-Culp Oveta Culp Hobby Texas April 11, 1953 July 31, 1955 Dwight D. Eisenhower
N/A Portrait gray Mckkee Williams Texas July 31, 1955 August 2, 1955
2 Folsom Marion B. Folsom New York August 2, 1955 July 31, 1958
3 ArthurSFlemming Arthur S. Flemming Ohio August 1, 1958 January 19, 1961
4 Ribicoff Abraham A. Ribicoff Connecticut January 21, 1961 July 13, 1962 John F. Kennedy
N/A Portrait gray Abraham A.Williams Ohio July 13, 1962 July 31, 1962
5 Celebrez Anthony J. Celebrezze Ohio July 31, 1962 August 17, 1965
Lyndon B. Johnson
6 John W. Gardner, U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare John W. Gardner California August 18, 1965 March 1, 1968
7 Wilburportrait Wilbur J. Cohen Michigan May 16, 1968 January 20, 1969
8 RobertHFinch Robert H. Finch California January 21, 1969 June 23, 1970 Richard Nixon
9 ElliotLeeRichardson Elliot L. Richardson Massachusetts June 24, 1970 January 29, 1973
N/A Portrait gray Jimme Keen Louisiana January 29, 1973 February 12, 1973
10 Caspar Weinberger official photo Caspar W. Weinberger California February 12, 1973 August 8, 1975
Gerald Ford
11 F. David Mathews F. David Mathews Alabama August 8, 1975 January 20, 1977
12 JAC AR 2007 Joseph A. Califano Jr. District of Columbia January 25, 1977 August 3, 1979 Jimmy Carter
13 Patricia R. Harris Patricia Roberts Harris District of Columbia August 3, 1979 May 4, 1980[5]

List of Secretaries of Education

No. Portrait name State of Residence Took Office Left Office President
1 United States Secretary of Education Shirley Hufstedler at Miami-Dade Community College 1980-02-07 (cropped 2) Shirley Hufstedler California November 30, 1979 January 20, 1981 Jimmy Carter
2 TerrelBell Terrel Bell Utah January 22, 1981 January 20, 1985 Ronald Reagan
Bill Bennett by Gage Skidmore William Bennett New York February 6, 1985 September 20, 1988
4 Cavazos Lauro Cavazos Texas September 20, 1988 December 12, 1990
George H. W. Bush
Portrait gray Ted Sanders
Illinois December 12, 1990 March 22, 1991
5 Lamar Alexander black and white photo Lamar Alexander Tennessee March 22, 1991 January 20, 1993
6 Richard Riley Official Department of Education Photo Richard Riley South Carolina January 21, 1993 January 20, 2001 Bill Clinton
7 Rod Paige Rod Paige Texas January 20, 2001 January 20, 2005 George W. Bush
8 Margaret Spellings, official ed photo 3 Margaret Spellings January 20, 2005 January 20, 2009
9 Arne Duncan official photo (cropped) Arne Duncan[6] Illinois January 21, 2009 January 1, 2016 Barack Obama
10 John B. King official portrait (cropped2) John King Jr.[6] New York January 1, 2016 March 14, 2016
March 14, 2016 January 20, 2017
Portrait gray Phil Rosenfelt
Virginia January 20, 2017 February 7, 2017 Donald Trump
11 Betsy DeVos official portrait (cropped) Betsy DeVos Michigan February 7, 2017 Incumbent

Living former Secretaries

As of April 2019, there are eight living former Secretaries of Education (with all Secretaries that have served since 1985 still living), the oldest being Lauro Cavazos (served 1988–1990, born 1927). The most recent Secretary of Education to die was Shirley Hufstedler (served 1979–1981, born 1925) on March 30, 2016. The most recently serving Secretary to die was Terrel Bell (served 1981–1985, born 1921) on June 22, 1996.

Name Term Date of birth (and age)
William Bennett 1985–1988 July 31, 1943 (age 75)
Lauro Cavazos 1988–1990 January 4, 1927 (age 92)
Lamar Alexander 1990-1993 July 6, 1940 (age 78)
Richard Riley 1993–2001 January 2, 1933 (age 86)
Rod Paige 2001–2005 June 17, 1933 (age 85)
Margaret Spellings 2005–2009 November 30, 1957 (age 61)
Arne Duncan[6] 2009–2015 November 6, 1964 (age 54)
John King Jr. 2016–2017 1975 (age 43–44)


  1. ^ https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/3/19
  2. ^ Wilson, Reid (October 20, 2013). "The Presidential order of succession". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  3. ^ "US Department of Education Principal Office Functional Statements". United States Department of Education. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  4. ^ NACIQI Staff (November 23, 2016). "Welcome". Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI). Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  5. ^ Harris was Secretary on May 4, 1980, when the office changed names from Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to Secretary of Health and Human Services. Because the department merely changed names, she did not need to be confirmed again, and her term continued uninterrupted.
  6. ^ a b c Eilperin, Juliet; Layton, Lyndsey; Brown, Emma (October 2, 2015). "U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to step down at end of year". Washington Post. Retrieved November 23, 2016.

External links

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Rick Perry
as Secretary of Energy
Order of Precedence of the United States
as Secretary of Education
Succeeded by
Robert Wilkie
as Secretary of Veterans Affairs
U.S. presidential line of succession
Preceded by
Secretary of Energy
Rick Perry
15th in line Succeeded by
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Robert Wilkie
Arne Duncan

Arne Starkey Duncan (born November 6, 1964) was the United States Secretary of Education from 2009 through December 2015. While his tenure as Secretary was marked by varying degrees of opposition from both social conservatives and teachers unions, he nevertheless enjoyed strong support from the US president who appointed him, Barack Obama. Conservatives and some parents resisted Duncan's push for all U.S. states to adopt the Common Core Standards to determine what students had learned, and most US teachers unions disliked his emphasis on the use of data from student tests to evaluate teachers and schools. Despite antagonism to the changes Duncan had introduced, Obama praised his work at the Department of Education by saying, "Arne has done more to bring our educational system – sometimes kicking and screaming – into the 21st century than anybody else."Duncan previously served as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools from 2001 to 2009. He is currently a senior fellow at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and a board member for Communities In Schools and Community X.

Betsy DeVos

Elisabeth Dee DeVos (; née Prince; born January 8, 1958) is the 11th and current United States Secretary of Education since 2017. DeVos is a Republican known for her support for school choice, school voucher programs, and charter schools. She was Republican National Committeewoman for Michigan from 1992 to 1997 and served as chair of the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000, with reelection to the post in 2003. She has advocated for the Detroit charter school system and she is a former member of the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education. She has served as chair of the board of the Alliance for School Choice and the Acton Institute and headed the All Children Matter PAC.DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, the former CEO of the multi-level marketing company Amway, and is the daughter-in-law of Amway's billionaire co-founder, Richard DeVos. Her brother, Erik Prince, a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, is the founder of Blackwater USA. Their father is Edgar Prince, founder of the Prince Corporation. In 2016, the family was listed by Forbes as the 88th-richest in America, with an estimated net worth of $5.4 billion.On November 23, 2016, then-President-elect Donald Trump announced that he would nominate DeVos to serve as Secretary of Education in his administration. On January 31, following strong opposition to the nomination from Democrats, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions approved her nomination on a party-line vote, sending her nomination to the Senate floor. On February 7, 2017, she was confirmed by the Senate by a 51–50 margin, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie in favor of her nomination. This was the first time in U.S. history that a Cabinet nominee's confirmation was decided by the Vice President's tiebreaking vote.

Granite Bay High School

Granite Bay High School is located in Granite Bay, California. Granite Bay High School was founded in 1996 and was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the United States Secretary of Education in 2002 and a California Distinguished School in 2007. It is one of the five comprehensive schools in the Roseville Joint High School District. Granite Bay High School has more than 20 Advanced Placement classes, and is one of two schools in RJUHSD to have the International Baccalaureate program.

IADT Nashville

The International Academy of Design & Technology in Nashville was a for-profit college founded in 2004. It is located in Nashville, Tennessee and offers specialized Bachelor's or Associate degrees. The International Academy of Design & Technology in Nashville was formerly accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). On December 12, 2016, John King Jr., the United States Secretary of Education, finalized the process of revoking the U.S. Department of Education's recognition of ACICS as an accreditor. It has subsequently went out of business.

John King Jr.

John B. King Jr. (born 1975) is the President and CEO of The Education Trust. He served as the 10th United States Secretary of Education from 2016 to 2017. Immediately before he assumed leadership of the Department, he served as its Acting Deputy Secretary, and from 2011 to 2014 he was the New York State Education Commissioner. The former Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, was charged with implementing the No Child Left Behind Act; however, King was obliged to carry out the provisions of that law's modified successor legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Jones College (Jacksonville)

Jones College was a private college in Jacksonville, Florida. Founded in 1918, the college was non-profit and had an undergraduate body of roughly 350 students. It offered courses in business, education, management, medical assistant training, computer science and general studies. The school was not regionally accredited, although it was nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).

On December 12, 2016, John King Jr., the United States Secretary of Education, finalized the process of revoking the U.S. Department of Education's recognition of ACICS as an accreditor. Subsequently, Jones College announced it would close on December 31, 2017. Its last classes were held in August 2017.

Lamar Alexander

Andrew Lamar Alexander Jr. (born July 3, 1940) is an American politician who is currently serving as the senior United States Senator from Tennessee, a seat he has held since 2003. A member of the Republican Party, he also was the 45th governor of Tennessee from 1979 to 1987 and the 5th United States Secretary of Education from 1991 to 1993.

Born in Maryville, Tennessee, Alexander graduated from Vanderbilt University and the New York University School of Law. After establishing a legal career in Nashville, Tennessee, Alexander ran for Governor of Tennessee in 1974, but was defeated by Democrat Ray Blanton. Alexander ran for governor again in 1978, and this time defeated his Democratic opponent. He won re-election in 1982 and served as chairman of the National Governors Association from 1985 to 1986.

Alexander served as the president of the University of Tennessee from 1988 until 1991, when he accepted appointment as Secretary of Education under President George H. W. Bush. Alexander sought the presidential nomination in the 1996 Republican primaries, but withdrew before the Super Tuesday primaries. He sought the nomination again in the 2000 Republican primaries, but dropped out after a poor showing in the Iowa Straw Poll.

In 2002, Alexander won election to succeed retiring Senator Fred Thompson. Alexander defeated Congressman Ed Bryant in the Republican primary and Congressman Bob Clement in the general election. He served as Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference from 2007 to 2012. Alexander has served as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee since 2015. He introduced the Every Student Succeeds Act, which supplanted the No Child Left Behind Act in 2015. On December 17, 2018, Alexander announced that he would not run for a fourth term in the Senate in 2020.

Linda Darling-Hammond

Linda Darling-Hammond (December 21, 1951) is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and President and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute. She is author or editor of more than 25 books and more than 500 articles on education policy and practice. Her work focuses on school restructuring, teacher education, and educational equity. She was education advisor to Barack Obama's presidential campaign and was reportedly among candidates for United States Secretary of Education in the Obama administration.

Michael Bennet

Michael Farrand Bennet (born November 28, 1964) is an American businessman, lawyer, and politician serving as the senior United States Senator from Colorado, a seat he has held since 2009. A member of the Democratic Party, he was appointed to the seat when Ken Salazar resigned to become Secretary of the Interior. Bennet previously worked as managing director for the Anschutz Investment Company, chief of staff to then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and superintendent of Denver Public Schools.

Bennet is the son of Douglas J. Bennet, a former State Department official and president of Wesleyan University. Early in his career, Bennet worked for Ohio Governor Richard Celeste. He went on to receive his Juris Doctor degree, after which he worked as a law clerk and later as Counsel to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration.

Bennet became superintendent of the Denver public school system in July 2005. In late 2008 Bennet was speculated to be a candidate for Obama's United States Secretary of Education. He was appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Ken Salazar when Salazar became Secretary of the Interior in January 2009. Bennet was elected in the 2010 Senate election where he defeated Republican Ken Buck. He chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for the 2014 cycle and was reelected in the 2016 elections.

National Reading Panel

The National Reading Panel (NRP) was a United States government body. Formed in 1997 at the request of Congress, it was a national panel with the stated aim of assessing the effectiveness of different approaches used to teach children to read.

The panel was created by Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health, in consultation with the United States Secretary of Education, and included prominent experts in the fields of reading education, psychology, and higher education. The panel was chaired by Donald Langenberg (University of Maryland), and included the following members: Gloria Correro (Mississippi State U.), Linnea Ehri (City University of New York), Gwenette Ferguson (middle school teacher, Houston, TX), Norma Garza (parent, Brownsville, TX), Michael L. Kamil (Stanford U.), Cora Bagley Marrett (U. Massachusetts-Amherst), S. J. Samuels (U. of Minnesota), Timothy Shahahan (U. of Illinois at Chicago), Sally Shaywitz (Yale U.), Thomas Trabasso (U. of Chicago), Joanna Williams (Columbia U.), Dale Willows (U. Of Toronto), Joanne Yatvin (school district superintendent, Boring, OR).

In April 2000, the panel issued its report, "Teaching Children to Read," and completed its work. The report summarized research in eight areas relating to literacy instruction: phonemic awareness instruction, phonics instruction, fluency instruction, vocabulary instruction, text comprehension instruction, independent reading, computer assisted instruction, and teacher professional development. The final report was endorsed by all of the panel members except one. Joanne Yatvin wrote a minority report criticizing the work of the NRP because it (a) did not include teachers of early reading on the panel or as reviewers of the report and (b) only focused on a subset of important reading skills. Timothy Shanahan, another panel member, later responded that Dr. Yatvin had received permission to investigate areas of reading instruction that the panel could not address within the limited time provided for their work. Shanahan noted that she had not pursued additional areas of interest despite the willingness of the panel to allow her to do so.

In 2001, President George W. Bush announced that the report would be the basis of federal literacy policy and was used prominently to craft Reading First, a $5 billion federal reading initiative that was part of the No Child Left Behind legislation.

New American High Schools

The New American High Schools initiative, started in 1996 under the direction of the United States Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, is a national recognition program for United States secondary schools.

Open University

The Open University (OU) is a public distance learning and research university, and the biggest university in the UK for undergraduate education. The majority of the OU's undergraduate students are based in the United Kingdom and principally study off-campus; many of its courses (both undergraduate and postgraduate) can also be studied anywhere in the world. There are also a number of full-time postgraduate research students based on the 48-hectare university campus where they use the OU facilities for research, as well as more than 1,000 members of academic and research staff and over 2,500 administrative, operational and support staff.The OU was established in 1969 and the first students enrolled in January 1971. The university administration is based at Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, in Buckinghamshire, but has administration centres in other parts of the United Kingdom. It also has a presence in other European countries. The university awards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, as well as non-degree qualifications such as diplomas and certificates or continuing education units.

With more than 174,000 students enrolled, including around 31% of new undergraduates aged under 25 and more than 7,400 overseas students, it is the largest academic institution in the United Kingdom (and one of the largest in Europe) by student number, and qualifies as one of the world's largest universities. Since it was founded, more than 2 million students have studied its courses. It was rated top university in England and Wales for student satisfaction in the 2005, 2006 and 2012 United Kingdom government national student satisfaction survey, and second in the 2007 survey. Out of 132 universities and colleges, the OU was ranked 43rd (second quartile) in the Times Higher Education Table of Excellence in 2008, between the University of Reading and University of the Arts London; it was rated highly in Design, Art History, English, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Computer Science, Development Studies, Social Policy and Social Work and Sociology. It was ranked 36th in the country and 498th in the world by the Center for World University Rankings in 2018.The Open University is also one of only three United Kingdom higher education institutions to gain accreditation in the United States of America by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an institutional accrediting agency, recognized by the United States Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.The BSc (Honours) Computing and IT course is accredited by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT and quality assured by the European Quality Assurance Network for Informatics Education (EQANIE).The OU won the Teaching Excellence and Digital Innovation categories in The Guardian University Awards 2018.

Phil Rosenfelt

Philip H. Rosenfelt is an American lawyer and civil servant who served as the acting United States Secretary of Education from January 20, 2017 until February 7, 2017. On November 23, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump announced Betsy DeVos to be his designee for Secretary of Education. Rosenfelt served until DeVos was sworn in on February 7, 2017.

Pledge Across America

The synchronized Pledge Across America is conducted each year on September 17th - Constitution Day. Pledge Across America is the nationally synchronized recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools. In 2001 shortly after September 11 the President of the United States and the United States Secretary of Education and both the United States Senate and House of Representatives joined over 52 million students in the synchronized Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. September 17, 2008 marked the 17th year the Pledge Across America takes place, and it also marked 117 years since Francis Bellamy wrote and first recited the Pledge of Allegiance in 1892.

Richard Riley

Richard Wilson "Dick" Riley (born January 2, 1933) is an American politician, the United States Secretary of Education under President Bill Clinton and the 111th governor of South Carolina. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Riley is the only Democrat to serve two consecutive terms as governor in the time since the state constitution was amended to allow governors to serve consecutive terms.

Rod Paige

Roderick Raynor Paige (born June 17, 1933) served as the 7th United States Secretary of Education from 2001 to 2005. Paige, who grew up in Mississippi, moved from classroom teacher to college dean and school superintendent to be the first African American to serve as the nation's education chief.

Paige was sitting with George W. Bush at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, when Bush received the news that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

On November 15, 2004, Paige announced his resignation after overseeing the President's education agenda for four years. White House domestic policy adviser Margaret Spellings was nominated as his successor. The U.S. Senate confirmed her on January 20, 2005 after Bush's inauguration for a second term.

Paige has been serving as interim president of his alma mater, Jackson State University, since November 1, 2016.

Shirley Hufstedler

Shirley Ann Mount Hufstedler (August 24, 1925 – March 30, 2016) was an American lawyer and judge who served as the first United States Secretary of Education under President Jimmy Carter from November 30, 1979 to January 20, 1981. At the time of her secretarial appointment, she was the highest ranking woman in the federal judiciary, serving as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Spelling (disambiguation)

Spelling is the writing of words with all necessary letters and diacritics present in an accepted, conventional order.

Spelling or Spellings is the name of:

Aaron Spelling (1923–2006), American film and television producer

Candy Spelling (born 1945), author, socialite, widow of Aaron Spelling

Randy Spelling (born 1978), American actor

Margaret Spellings (born 1957), United States Secretary of Education from 2005–2009

Tori Spelling (born 1973), American actress

United States Department of Education

The United States Department of Education (ED or DoED), also referred to as the ED for (the) Education Department, is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government. It began operating on May 4, 1980, having been created after the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was split into the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services by the Department of Education Organization Act, which President Jimmy Carter signed into law on October 17, 1979.The Department of Education is administered by the United States Secretary of Education. It has under 4,000 employees (2018) and an annual budget of $68 billion (2016). The 2019 Budget also supports $129.8 billion in new postsecondary grants, loans, and work-study assistance to help an estimated 11.5 million students and their families pay for college. Its official abbreviation is "ED" ("DOE" refers to the United States Department of Energy) and is also often abbreviated informally as "DoEd".

United States Secretaries of Education
Secretary of Education
Deputy Secretary of Education
Under Secretary of Education
Independent organizations

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