Here’s a name I didn’t see on Horowitz’s list: Jon Schnur, the cofounder and CEO of the Manhattan-based nonprofit New Leaders for New Schools. Schnur has been taking time off lately to campaign for Obama, work that has included guest-blogging, debating, and meeting with like-minded, education-inclined fundraisers in fancy Manhattan apartments. (I don’t have a link for that last one but can testify it did happen at least once; I was there.)
Schnur is one of the main players in the quiet battle among Obama’s education advisers which I am told is still raging even this close to the election. Schnur is the leader of the mostly younger “entrepreneurial” set who sympathize with the efforts of Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein — and who likely were not too pleased when the leader of the other group, Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond, criticized Teach For America at a recent Teachers College debate where she was speaking on behalf of Obama.
Obviously we can’t know whether Schnur will get a big position in an Obama administration, like Secretary of Education. Maybe. Marc Ambinder, who is keeping a running list of rumor-intelligence on who would staff an Obama White House, throws out the name of D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee for Ed Sec. That might cause United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who right now is battling Rhee, to explode. If Obama wanted to pick a safer-but-still-aggressive type, Schnur would be a good choice.
I am hearing, however, that the smarter money for Ed Sec is on someone without a clear foot in either camp, a larger-than-life figurehead such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has been spending his post-Bush administration retirement fighting a new war against high school dropouts. Powell, or someone like him, could draw attention away from battles going on behind the scenes.
Still, the battles would probably rage on nevertheless. And if they do, Schnur, who served as an education adviser to Al Gore in the White House, is certainly at the front of the line to lead his side’s fight from the inside.