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Education Department Nominees Stuck Waiting for Congressional Confirmation

Congress left town for its August recess last week without filling a number of key positions at the U.S. Department of Education. That means some folks are stuck with "acting" at the start of their title, and other positions are just plain vacant.

Here's the list of who we are still waiting on:

• Massie Ritsch, assistant secretary for communications and outreach, replacing Peter Cunningham. Ritsch has been doing the job for more than a year now, still as an "acting."

•Michael Keith Yudin, of the District of Columbia, to be Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, replacing Alexa Posney. He's been working as an "acting" too.

•James Cole, Jr., of New York, to be General Counsel, Department of Education, replacing Charles P. Rose.

•Ericka Miller, assistant secretary for post-secondary education, replacing Eduardo Ochoa.

Robert Gordon, assistant secretary for planning, evaluation and policy, replacing Carmel Martin, who helped set a lot of the administration's first term agenda on K-12. (More on Gordon and the potential impact he could have once he's on board at the department here.) Gabriella Gomez had been serving in the role, on an acting basis, but is no longer doing so. 

It's nothing new for lawmakers to be sluggish about filling administration positions. But the Obama administration has a lot on its plate as it heads into the home stretch, including new teacher preparation regulations, new regulations for the School Improvement Grant program, criteria for judging whether state's assessments pass federal muster, and regulations for the brand new preschool development program. Plus, they have more than 40 waivers from No Child Left Behind to oversee, and a number of extensions left to dole out. So it would probably help to have some more hands on deck.

Meanwhile, last week, the Obama administration tapped a number of names familiar to folks in K-12 education to sit on the White House Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans, including Becky Pringle, the secretary-treasurer of the National Education Association; Michael T. Nettle, the senior Vice President and the Edmund W. Gordon Chair of the Policy Evaluation and Research Center at Educational Testing Service (ETS); Kent McGuire, the president of the Southern Education Foundation (SEF), and Peggy L. Brookins, the director of, and mathematics instructor for, the Engineering and Manufacturing Institute of Technology at Forest High School in Ocala, Florida. Full list here

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