The president-elect announced Thursday that he would nominate former Arkansas Gov.
Mike Huckabee, a former Republican governor, to be education secretary, a move that comes amid rising tensions between the Trump administration and teachers unions.
The Education Department said in a statement that Huckabee, who is not a member of the union, would serve in a “neutral” role with the agency, but would “continue to work to strengthen our nation’s schools and the education system in general.”
The agency has been criticized for its handling of the crisis in Flint, Michigan, after a city’s water supply began to leak into the drinking water supply in 2014.
Huckabee has said his education policies would focus on making college affordable and creating more jobs in the education sector, but the Education Department has been reluctant to say specifically how it would implement the president-nominated nominee’s ideas.
A former Arkansas state legislator, Huckabee is known for his populist, anti-corporate message, and his tenure as governor of the state was marred by controversy, including allegations that he had sexually harassed a female staffer.
Trump has said the education secretary nominee would focus not on education, but rather on improving education for minorities and other disadvantaged students.
In an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Trump also said he wants the Department of Education to hire a “teacher of color” as part of its “special assistant to the president.”
“You know, I’ve been saying, ‘What are the problems in the world that we have to solve for the African-American community?'”
“Well, I think if you look at our schools, our schools are failing, they are failing horribly.
We’re not doing enough for the kids.
I mean, it’s a real problem.”
Trump said he had asked the secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, to “do a very, very big job” and that she should “do something that I don’t think is going well right now.”
“So I’m very much in favor of having someone with the ability to do something that, frankly, we’re not getting.
But if I get somebody who has the ability, I would be very happy to have them.”
Huckingabee is the only candidate in the race for the post of education secretary.