Politico: Trouble Staffing the Department of Education

You have heard of rats deserting a sinking ship. Have you ever heard of anyone trying to get on a sinking ship?

Here is more about why all those offices are empty at the Department of Education.

Politico reports:

EDUCATION DEPARTMENT HIRING HITS A WALL: The task of staffing the Education Department with fresh political faces appears to have hit a wall. Dozens of individuals have dropped out, frustrated by the drawn-out, rigorous hiring process. Those in the pipeline are wondering what’s taking so long. And fewer folks are throwing their hats in the ring, doubting whether the Trump administration’s pledge to dramatically expand private school choice options for working class families will ultimately go anywhere, according to multiple sources plugged into the hiring process. “The White House looks so chaotic, I think people are starting to wonder if you will be able to do much” on education, one source told Pro Education’s Caitlin Emma.

– Amid the chaos, the Hill doesn’t seem interested in funding the president’s school choice budget proposals and it’s unclear if the White House will get behind a plan to expand private school choice through tax reform – a huge lift for Congress and the administration. Folks who support private school choice are “increasingly pessimistic,” the source said. “There still seems to be people in the pipeline that could get through. But it seems like no one new is getting in line.”

– Education Department press secretary Liz Hill said, “We are making progress on staffing and more announcements on are on the horizon soon. The notion that the secretary doesn’t have an agenda is ridiculous. The secretary is championing a robust agenda to reduce the federal role in education, expand school choice and empower parents, retool the Higher Education Act for the 21st Century, and modernize [Federal Student Aid] to better serve students and taxpayers. The secretary hears from those inside and outside the government who are excited about her agenda and are ready and willing to help advance it.”

– Political vacancies will make it more difficult for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to figure out and implement an agenda. At least a quarter of the Education Department’s political vacancies have been filled, but a number of potential hires have been held up, thwarted or vetoed by the White House or Education Department, sources say. The Office of Government Ethics, in particular, has presented enormous hurdles. For example, the rigorous financial expectations set out by the Office of Government Ethics prompted Allan Hubbard, an economic adviser during both Bush administrations, to drop out of the running for the Education Department’s No. 2 job in early June. Rumored names of a potential front-runner for that position have yet to surface.

– A lack of senior political hires has failed to attract other talent, compounding the problem, sources say. And the political hires now at the Education Department have way too much on their plate. President Donald Trump has only formally nominated two individuals for politically appointed, Senate-confirmable positions: Sen. Lamar Alexander aide Peter Oppenheim as assistant secretary for legislation and congressional affairs, and Florida attorney Carlos Muñiz as general counsel. Jim Blew, director of the education advocacy group, Student Success California, is the front-runner to become the Education Department’s assistant secretary of the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development – but has yet to be formally nominated.

– A White House spokesman declined to comment on personnel issues, but stressed the Trump administration’s education accomplishments to date. For example, the spokesman pointed to the president’s decision this week to donate his quarterly salary to the Education Department for a STEM-focused camp, among other things. “Under President Trump’s leadership, Secretary DeVos has increased stakeholder engagement and rolled back harmful restrictions to ensure America’s schools are helping students,” the spokesman said.

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