Johnnetta B. Cole, the president of Spelman College, has initiated the formation of a team that will support her in the examination of the Education Department for President-elect Bill Clinton’s transition effort. Mary Ann Schmidt, an aide from the Democratic National Committee, who will oversee the project, stated that the objective is to gain an understanding of the agency, identify important matters, review pending legislation, and analyze personnel structures. This project falls under a "cluster group" led by Ms. Cole, and the group aims to complete its assignment, which involves creating briefing books for incoming agency officials, by the end of this month.
The team responsible for working on education consists of various leaders and experts in their respective fields. Marshall S. Smith, the dean of Stanford University’s school of education, is tasked with overseeing programs related to elementary and secondary education. Gordon M. Ambach, the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, is responsible for departmental organization. Ramon Cortines, the former superintendent of the San Francisco schools, handles interagency affairs. Shirley Malcolm, the director of education and human resources at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is in charge of vocational-education programs. Margaret McKenna, the president of Lesley College in Boston, is responsible for higher education.
Furthermore, the two national teachers’ unions, who were strong supporters of Mr. Clinton’s campaign, also have representation in the transition team. Kenneth F. Melley, the assistant executive director for education and advocacy programs at the National Education Association, collaborates with Mr. Smith. Bella Rosenberg, an assistant to Albert Shanker, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, works with Mr. Cortines. Other participants include Terry Peterson, who formerly served as an education aide to former Gov. Richard Riley and is now in charge of personnel recruitment for the transition; David Haselkorn, the president of Recruiting New Teachers, a nonprofit organization; and Susan Fuhrman, the director of the Center for Policy Research in Education at Rutgers University.
Ms. Cole met with Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander for 30 minutes on December 4th, and the leaders of the cluster group visited the Education Department for the first time last week. According to Etta S. Fielek, the spokesperson for Mr. Alexander, the team is currently in the early stages of organizing itself. Meanwhile, another separate transition group has been working on a report outlining policy options in education and job training, and they are expected to send their recommendations to Mr. Clinton this week.
In addition to education-related developments, Mr. Clinton also announced his choices for key economic posts within his Administration, such as Sen. Lloyd Bentsen as Secretary of the Treasury and Rep. Leon E. Panetta as the director of the Office of Management and Budget. This is in preparation for Mr. Clinton’s economic conference scheduled to take place this week in Little Rock, Arkansas. Representatives from the teachers’ unions, including Keith Geiger from the N.E.A. and Mr. Shanker from the A.F.T., are expected to participate. Mr. Clinton also delivered his first education speech as President-elect at Wilbur Wright Community College in Chicago, where he discussed his proposals for job training and student loans that could be repaid through community service. He expressed openness to the idea of making college tuition tax-deductible based on a student’s suggestion.