Biden Considers HBCU Alum Leslie T. Fenwick for Education Secretary

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President-elect Joe Biden is considering Leslie T. Fenwick, dean emeritus of the Howard University School of Education.

Miguel Cardona, Connecticut’s education commissioner, is also being considered for the position.

Unlike the current Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Fenwick has dedicated the majority of her career to the education field, but her potential appointment may not be a universally agreeable option.

In the past, Fenwick has criticized education programs such as Teach For America. TFA is a nonprofit organization whose stated mission is to “enlist, develop, and mobilize as many as possible of our nation’s most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.”

Fenwick has also challenged for-profit charter schools and taxpayer-funded private school vouchers.

“These schemes are often viewed as new and innovative, but when you look at the history of these schemes — and I use the word ‘schemes’ purposefully — you find that they are rooted in resistance to the Brown legal decision,” Fenwick said in September.

At the beginning of her career, Fenwick was a middle school science teacher in Toledo, her hometown. She went on to serve as Dean of the Howard University School of Education for nearly a decade. Fenwick is also a former Visiting Scholar and Visiting Fellow at Harvard University and an invited appointment as an MCLC Senior Fellow at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Her husband, H. Patrick Swygert, is president emeritus of Howard University and former president of the State University of New York at Albany.

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