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Deputy Secretary Joins Exodus From U.S. Education Department

Ohanian Comment: We knew Hickok as the hit man for NCLB. Note that former ed tsar William Bennett is unhappy with Bush's new ed chief.


Upheaval at the U.S. Education Department continued on Thursday, as Eugene W. Hickok announced that he was stepping down from the No. 2 position at the agency.

Mr. Hickok, who has been the department's deputy secretary for about a year and a half, wrote in a letter to President Bush that he would be "forever grateful that you asked me to contribute to this noble cause" of reforming the country's public schools.

College lobbyists were not surprised to see Mr. Hickok go. He had apparently hoped to succeed Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige, who announced his resignation last month. But Mr. Bush chose instead his domestic-policy adviser, Margaret Spellings (The Chronicle, November 26).

Some conservative activists, like William J. Bennett, a former education secretary, have said they are unhappy with Ms. Spellings's nomination. They would have preferred, they said, that the president had promoted Mr. Hickok, who has been a strong backer of allowing public-school students to use vouchers from the federal government to attend private schools.

While Mr. Hickok has focused mostly on elementary and secondary education while at the department, he has been a forceful proponent of making colleges more accountable for graduating their students in a timely fashion.

As Pennsylvania's secretary of education -- a job he held for six years before joining the Bush administration -- he had pushed the state's legislature to create a grant program to reward institutions that graduated at least 40 percent of their in-state students within four years (The Chronicle, May 19, 2000).

— Stephen Burd
Chronicle of Higher Education


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