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Changes in the Communications Branch of the U.S. Department of Education

Big changes in the U.S. Department of Education's Press Office: Dorie Turner Nolt, who is currently the assistant director of communications at the Georgia Department of Education, is taking the helm at the press office. (The position became vacant when Daren Briscoe left to become a vice-president at GMMB, a public relations and consulting firm in Washington.)

Does Turner Nolt's name sound familiar? It shoud ... edu-readers know her byline from when she was an education reporter for the Associated Press, based in Atlanta. She's also written for the Chattanooga Times Free Press and Newsweek.

And that's not the only shift in the press office—Cameron French, who has fielded many late-night emails from the Politics K-12 team (and from tons of other reporters) will be taking on an expanded role: director of press operations. French previously worked on President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign in North Carolina, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and on Capitol Hill. 

Plus, Stephen Spector, who has been the go-to higher ed spokesman, will become deputy press secretary. Spector previously worked for the Presidential Inauguration Committee and for the Obama campaign. 

Beyond the press office, John White, who served as the department's go-to ambassador to rural districts and schools, has left the U.S. Department of Education for another position. White's was an especially important job, since rural advocates have argued that they have largely been left out of U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan's agenda. He's emphasized policies like merit pay and charter schools, which many contend don't work well in isolated areas, putting rural districts at a disadvantage when it comes to competitive grants.  

No replacement has been named yet, French said. So where do rural advocates turn until the department fills White's shoes? 

"Rural outreach will remain a priority of ED's communications office, with continued support from senior outreach staff at headquarters and in ED'S regional offices covering heavily rural areas," French said. 

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