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United States Secretary of Education

Secretary of Education of the United States of America
Seal of the Department of Education
Flag of the Secretary of Education
Arne Duncan

since January 21, 2009
United States Department of Education
Member of Cabinet
Reports to The President
Seat Washington, D.C.
Appointer The President
with Senate advice and consent
Term length No fixed term
Constituting instrument 20 U.S.C. § 3411
Formation November 30, 1979
First holder Shirley Hufstedler
Succession Fifteenth in the United States Presidential Line of Succession
Deputy Deputy Secretary of Education
Salary Executive Schedule, level 1

The United States Secretary of Education is the head of the U.S. Department of Education. The Secretary is a member of the President's Cabinet, and fifteenth in line of United States presidential line of succession. The United States Secretary of Education deals with Education policy.

The Secretary is advised by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, an advisory committee, on "matters related to accreditation and to the eligibility and certification process for institutions of higher education."[1]

The current Secretary of Education is Arne Duncan, who has held the office since January 2009.

List of Secretaries of Education


      Democratic       Republican

No. Portrait Name State of Residence Took Office Left Office President(s)
1 75px Shirley M. Hufstedler California November 30, 1979 January 20, 1981 Jimmy Carter
2 75px Terrel H. Bell Utah January 22, 1981 January 20, 1985 Ronald Reagan
3 75px William J. Bennett North Carolina February 6, 1985 September 20, 1988
4 75px Lauro F. Cavazos Texas September 20, 1988 December 12, 1990
George H. W. Bush
5 75px Lamar Alexander Tennessee March 22, 1991 January 20, 1993
6 75px Richard W. Riley South Carolina January 21, 1993 January 20, 2001 Bill Clinton
7 75px Roderick R. Paige Texas January 20, 2001 January 20, 2005 George W. Bush
8 75px Margaret Spellings Texas January 20, 2005 January 20, 2009
9 75px Arne Duncan Illinois January 21, 2009 Incumbent Barack Obama

Living former Secretaries of Education

As of October 2014, there are seven living former Secretaries of Education, the oldest being Shirley Hufstedler (1979-1981, born 1925). The most recent Secretary of Education to pass away was Terrel Bell (1981-1985), on June 22, 1996.

Name Term of office Date of birth (and age)
Shirley Hufstedler 1979–1981 (1925-08-24) August 24, 1925 (age 90)
William Bennett 1985–1988 (1943-07-31) July 31, 1943 (age 72)
Lauro Cavazos 1988–1990 (1927-01-04) January 4, 1927 (age 89)
Lamar Alexander 1991–1993 (1940-07-06) July 6, 1940 (age 75)
Richard Riley 1993–2001 (1933-01-02) January 2, 1933 (age 83)
Rod Paige 2001-2005 (1933-06-17) June 17, 1933 (age 82)
Margaret Spellings 2005-2009 (1957-11-30) November 30, 1957 (age 58)


External links

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United States presidential line of succession
Preceded by
Secretary of Energy
Ernest Moniz
15th in line Succeeded by
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Robert McDonald