Flypaper readers know that I've been partial to the selection of former North Carolina governor Jim Hunt as the next secretary of education. But now that he's taken himself out of contention for the job, I have to look around for another favorite. And I've found him: New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. There are two things I like about Richardson. First, he's very strong on charter schools, which is why Fordham found New Mexico to be the second-best state in the country for school reform a few years ago. Second, he's pro-accountability but anti-No Child Left Behind, because, as a governor, he sees the perverse incentives it's created at the state level. Here's a man who could credibly bring governors together to work toward common national standards and tests, while also explaining to reformers in Congress why they should temper their instincts to try to regulate their way to nirvana.
It's true that his campaign platform played heavily to the teachers unions, what with its call to raise salaries across the board. But that just makes him an appealing consensus candidate. (Obama is not going to pick someone who is obviously anti-teachers union.)
So does Richardson have a chance? If the State Department job goes to Hillary Clinton, Team Obama will need to find a home for Richardson. Why not at 400 Maryland Avenue? Could we have an Hispanic education secretary come January? Si se puede!