President Obama this month nominated Deborah Delisle, a former Superintendent of Public Instruction in Ohio, as Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE). She is replacing Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, who is returning to her roots on the West Coast to lead a large school district in California.
Delisle will be taking over at a time when the OESE has some huge responsibilities for PreK-12 education, especially given the U.S. Department of Education’s interest in moving forward with education reforms despite the lack of progress on changes to No Child Left Behind. The Office is responsible for all elementary and secondary school programs and would house the proposed Office of Early Learning, designed to coordinate programs for children from birth through age 8.
Before Delisle’s stint with the Ohio Department of Education, she served as superintendent of the Ohio Cleveland Heights—University Heights school system for five years. She became state superintendent in late 2008 under Governor Ted Strickland (D-OH). During her tenure in the office, she oversaw the implementation of a bill from the legislature that mandated full-day kindergarten in every school district – a plan that ultimately fell victim to cost concerns from districts. Delisle resigned in 2011 after the newly-elected Kasich administration (R-OH) took over the governor’s mansion.
Delisle’s post is subject to confirmation by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee, as well as by the full Senate. There is no word yet on how long that process might be, but stay tuned to Early Ed Watch for updates.