from a public HS teacher (Gov't, Religion, Soc. Issues), who is eclectic (Dem-leaning) politically and Quaker (& open) on everything else. Hope you enjoy what you find here.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

In education as in FEMA? The pattern continues 

It seems as if the only purpose for many Republicans to serve in the Federal government is to get the additional line on the resume for the purpose of later capitalizing on that experience. After Katrina we all know that Joe Allbaugh, Bush’s first choice to run FEMA, has been running an for-profit entity which provides consulting in the area over which FEMA is supposed to have jurisdiction, with a client list that includes among others KBR Halliburton. Now in a news piece published in Seattle we learn that a similar pattern exist with Rod Paige, former Secretary of Education.

The piece appeared in the (reasonably conservative) Seattle Times. Entitled ”Paige, top aides, now education consultants” it begins as follows”

WASHINGTON — Rod Paige and his former top aides at the Education Department have organized a consulting group to offer high-dollar advice on policies they helped create and later enforced, including the controversial No Child Left Behind Act.

Paige, who resigned as education secretary 10 months ago, has agreed to be chairman of Chartwell Education Group.

The firm, which has begun soliciting business, is seeking clients ranging from state school chiefs to foreign leaders.

It is not unusual for Washington, D.C., officials to become consultants after leaving government. But this venture involves virtually an entire leadership team from President Bush's first term.

The former Chief of Staff ot Paige, John Danielson, the new firm’s CEO, was pretty blunt about it when he confirmed the details about the firm in a phone conversation”

"We're pretty confident that we're heading into a place where there's a void. . . . You have lobbying firms out there, you have smaller consultancies on specific issues, but you don't have a comprehensive firm in education like this one"

Besides Paige and his former Chief of Staff, 3 other top officials of the DOE are involved with the firm. William Hansen had been #2 at the department, and is a specialist in higher education. Susan Clafani was Paige's top advisor on vocational and adult education. Ron Tomalis had a major role in enforcing NCLB.

While Federal law will prevent Paige and Sclafani from dealing with the DOE until one year after they departed, that may not seem to be a barrier, since they claim they will not be doing any lobbying, although the line between lobbying and consulting is often not particularly clear.

The article particularly caught my attention because I teach in Maryland. Note the following:
Last week, Ron Peiffer, a Maryland Education Department official, met with company leaders to discuss their services.

"It seemed like a powerful group, very impressive in terms of what they could bring to the table," said Peiffer, deputy superintendent for academic policy in Maryland. "Having the secretary there, and many of these other folks that we've dealt with in various other capacities, it was interesting."

It is worth reminding people that although Maryland is a fairly blue state, it has former Republican Congressman Bob Erlich as governor, and that his Lt. Gov., Michael Steele, is the putative Republican candidate for the Senate seta that is open with the forthcoming retirement of Paul Sarbanes. Of greater importance, while the current State Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick, was appointed by a Democrat, that Democrat Don Schaeffer (now Comptroller) is personally very close to Erlich. Also, Erlich had approached Grasmick about being his running mate in 2002, and there are a lot of signs that she may take the number 2 slot replacing Steele this time around.

Returning to the main reason I posted this. For this administration and its supporters, the only purpose of government service is profit, either by steering contracts to favored companies of supporters while in office (sweetheart and no-bid contracts to Republican firms like Halliburton and Bechtel in Iraq), drafting legislation that favors Republican firms (such as the way NCLB aids companies like McGraw-Hill and Harcourt Educational measurement), or direct personal profiting after one’s service, either by being hired by companies one use to supervise or by “consulting” - offering one’s expertise in how to abide by the law one helped write (although in the case of Paige personally, it is doubtful he really understands the details of NCLB).

Just another pleasant read for your Sunday.
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