California’s Mitchell Tapped by Obama for DoE Undersecretary Job

A vacant position in the US Department of Education is set to be filled by a former California educator following weeks of speculations over who would get the job. Theodore Mitchell, known for his philanthropy, is set to be nominated as the successor to Martha Kanter who resigned as undersecretary in August.

Mitchell has had a varied, impressive career at several colleges and university working in both teaching and administration.

According to Anita Kumar and Rene Schoof of The Kansas City Star, Mitchell is a former president of the California State Board of Education and of Occidental College in Los Angeles, which Obama attended as an undergraduate. Mitchell is president and CEO of the NewSchools Venture Fund, which raises money for individuals and institutions pursuing education reforms, such as charter schools and teachers, with an emphasis on low-income communities. Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, welcomed the news.

“I think he’s a fabulous choice. I think he’s one of the best choices they’ve made on education,” he said. “He’s just an unflappable guy who’s been in and around education for decades.”

Mitchell will replace Martha Kanter, who announced her resignation in August, as the department’s top higher education official and top adviser to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, according to a source familiar with the decision. Mitchell is expected to join the Obama administration as it prepares to overhaul teacher preparation policies later this year or early next year.

Mitchell, a former professor at Dartmouth College served in 1991 and 1992 as deputy to the president and to the provost of Stanford University. From 1992 to 1998, he worked at the University of California, Los Angeles, as vice chancellor for academic planning and budget, and vice chancellor for external affairs. At the J. Paul Getty Trust, he was vice president of education and strategic initiatives from 1998 to 1999. From 1999 to 2005, he was the president of Occidental College. Since 2005, He’s been with the NewSchools fund. Reportedly, he also has served on the board of directors of The McClatchy Co., the nation’s third-largest newspaper company, since 2001.

The Senate will have to confirm the nomination. Upon request for a comment, Mitchell did not respond.

“We’re really interested in teacher tools,” Mitchell told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month. “There’s more professional conversation going on among teachers about teaching than I’ve ever seen in the 20 years that I’ve been doing this work.”