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A “Careerist” for Education?

December 22, 2016

Early signs are that Donald Trump’s education policies will be “mixed.”  Public education during a Trump Administration will continue to be challenged by Home School, Voucher and Charter School advocates. It seems also that “Common Core” supported by the Bush family’s education expert–Jeb Bush–will not be promoted.  And even in the unlikely event that the nomination of Betsy DeVos is rejected, subsequent nominees will support school reform.

All that is to the good, but in the area of higher education, early signs are that Donald Trump has not overcome the ignorance of the regulatory environment that got “Trump University” into trouble. That regulatory system went into overdrive in 1965 with passage of the Higher Education Act which, in Title IV, established federal subsidies for college tuition.

Today we face a college debt crisis of enormous proportions with no signs that the regulations that created that crisis will be challenged by the Trump Administration. A principal sign that is the case is appointment of James Manning as head of the Trump Transition Team for Education.

Manning is a former official in the George W. Bush Administration who can best be described as a careerist. His professional background is not fully outlined in announcements of his appointment but we know that he was Acting Secretary of Education during the Bush Administration, Chief of Staff to the Deputy Education Secretary and as the acting Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid in the Obama administration. Perhaps most damning is praise Manning has received from  David Bergeron, manager of the Obama Administration’s attack on for-profit education,  who described Manning as an “operations guy” with skills navigating bureaucracies and as “a guy who keeps the trains running on time.”

After leaving the Bush Administration he became Chief Operating Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, an “inside the Beltway” organization that only careerists would want to serve.

If the higher education Establishment feared that the Trump Administration would attempt to reform how the U.S. Department of Education administers “recognition” of accreditation agencies for access to  Title IV programs, they need not have worried.

Manning’s appointment is troubling and one wonders who put an careerist from the Margaret Spellings era at the Department at the head of the Trump Transition Team for Education.


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