Ted Mitchell will replace Molly Broad as the new head of the American Council on Education (ACE) media announced Thursday.
Responses to Mitchell’s hiring have been varied, with some expressing excitement about the innovation he may bring to the field, while others worry about his comments on privatizing public education and introducing more technology in schools.
Mitchell served as Obama’s higher education official in the Department of Education until Trump took office in January, according to Inside Highered. A longtime advocate for innovation in higher education, Mitchell led numerous projects during his term in which he encouraged education providers to take new approaches. He also looked into alternative providers of education.
Some have said he’s an “accessible and pragmatic straight shooter,” but he has received considerable criticism as well, particularly from The Nation which scrutinized what they called his “strong ties” to education technology companies. They also attacked him for considering the privatization of public education.
Mitchel said he focuses on policy rather than politics, and when asked how he would address working with a Republican administration, he said, “I’m not and never pretended to be a politician. I’ve had good working relationships on both sides of the aisle.”
ACE has investigated new ways to create more opportunities for underserved student populations, including students who cannot afford to attend good schools as well as students living in districts with poor schooling.
Mitchell also sought to help student veterans earn credit for serving time in the U.S. military and delved into how more veterans can earn degrees after returning from overseas. Mitchell’s dedication to bringing fresh ideas to a long stymied education system may pair nicely with ACE’s mission to improve America’s schools, and he said he is excited to join an organization that “has been doing the work of innovation throughout its history.”
Mitchell’s hire echoes the board’s desire to “broaden the narrative” said Southern New Hampshire University president and ACE board member Paul LeBlanc. He added that he believes Mitchell could be the “vibrant central voice” ACE needs.
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