The secretary of education is an appointed position, not decided by voters directly. But that doesn’t mean we should stay silent about who we think presidential administrations should appoint. If they’re partially in charge of our kids’ learning, we should have a say.

So we put together a list of some of the most talked-about candidates and asked our network of education activists — including parents, educators and community advocates — who should join Joe Biden’s administration in January as education secretary. Over the last few days, they’ve been voting.

The results are in. And (drumroll please) if readers had their say, Sonja Santelises would take the reins of the Department of Education once President-elect Biden is sworn in on January 20. Santelises currently runs Baltimore’s schools and has found herself the target of many distortions of her positions on social media in recent days—which has been countered by the #IStandWithSonja movement. 

But Santelises didn’t run away with the vote. She received 20.11%. 

Her closest rival among education activists and advocates was Geoffrey Canada, the legendary president and founder of Harlem Children’s Zone, at 18.42%. 

Former Milwaukee superintendent Howard Fuller was next up. The civil rights icon got 13.45%. 

Others on the list included New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Connecticut Rep. Jahana Hayes, and schools chiefs Janice Jackson of Chicago, William Hite of Philadelphia, and Brenda Cassellius of Boston. Teachers union leaders like Lily Eskelsen-Garcia and Randi Weingarten also received votes. 

The poll even included an option to write-in additional candidates. Suggestions ranged from Biden’s education transition team leader Linda Darling-Hammond, esteemed teacher-educator Gloria Ladson-Billings, and even Michelle Obama. As of this writing, the Biden team has made no announcements, so our poll is still on. Visit Voice to Action now and place your own vote.


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