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Making it Official: New Voc-Ed Secretary

I neglected to note the confirmation last week of Brenda Dann-Messier as the new assistant secretary for vocational and adult education at the U.S. Department of Education. Dann-Messier, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, most recently served as the president of Dorcas Place, an adult and family learning center in Rhode Island. Dann-Messier was given the Senate's blessing at the same time that lawmakers confirmed Alexa Posny, former Kansas commissioner of education, as assistant secretary for special education and rehabilatative services.

As I've noted previously, Dann-Messier brings a somewhat different background to the job than those who served in the role under former President George W. Bush. Some people I've spoken with have suggested that her selection, along with that of other officials in the department, could reflect the Obama administration's desire to pay more attention to community colleges and adult education, particularly in light of the need to improve the skills of workers and help those who have lost their jobs. Obama has pledged to create a greater role for community colleges in the nation's education pipeline, though there are a lot of unresolved questions about how that will play out. One voc-ed group notes that Dann-Messier, in her pre-departmental career, authored a number of papers about strategies for increasing college access to students from different backgrounds.

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