The book U.S. Secretaries of Education: A Short History of Their Lives & Impact by Catherine L. Sommervold is a new approach to examining education history. The first Secretary of Education took office in 1979 and, excluding interim Secretaries, there have been thirteen to date. This book contains a short biography of each Secretary of Education and discusses their activities. Also included is a table that allows for a side-by-side comparison of the Secretaries, their demographics and their budgets. U.S. Secretaries outlines the secretaries and details about their tenure in an attempt at an objectivity with the hope to encourage critical thinking and conversations about education and education policy.
Dr. Catherine L. Sommervold is a Professor and the Director of the Education Doctorate at Doane University. Dr. Sommervold has spent the last thirty years in education research creating programs, supervising dissertations, and studying biology and education.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Shirley Hufstedler (1979-1981)
Chapter 2: Terrell Bell (1981-1985)
Chapter 3: William J. Bennett (1985-1988)
Chapter 4: Lauro F. Cavazos (1988-1990)
Chapter 5: Lamar Alexander (1991-1993)
Chapter 6: Richard Riley (1993-2001)
Chapter 7: Rod Paige (2001-2005)
Chapter 8: Margaret Spellings (2005-2009)
Chapter 9: Arne Duncan (2009-2016)
Chapter 10: John King, Jr. (2016-2017)
Chapter 11: Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ DeVos (2017-2021)
Chapter 12: Miguel Cardona (2021-present)
Chapter 13: The Acting Secretaries
"Dr. Cate Sommervold shines a clear and focused light on the roles of the successive Secretaries since the Department of Education’s establishment in 1979. Concise yet informative, her work conveniently contextualizes the roles of individual office holders against the shifting tides of American educational policies and debates. More holistic, in terms of events, economics and cultural trends, national contexts are unfailingly provided as well.
“With attention to research, artifacts and anecdotes, the Sommervold offers context and relatability around one of the most influential roles in US education. This engaging narrative draws readers along the historical path of the US Secretaries of Education, all while identifying the value of education and avoiding political rhetoric. ‘It is important to examine the trajectory of those who lead us and question if they actually lead us or if they are merely figure-heads,’ Sommervold reminds us all. This book is a conversation starter for the boardroom, classroom and kitchen table.”