Margaret Spellings

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Margaret Spellings
Margaret Spellings, official ed photo 2.jpg
8th United States Secretary of Education
In office
January 20, 2005 – January 20, 2009
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Rod Paige
Succeeded by Arne Duncan
Domestic Policy Adviser
In office
President George W. Bush
Succeeded by Claude Allen
Personal details
Born Margaret Dudar
(1957-11-30) November 30, 1957 (age 57)
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Republican
Alma mater University of Houston

Margaret Spellings (born November 30, 1957) is an American politician who served as the Secretary of Education from 2005 to 2009 under the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush and previously served as White House Domestic Policy Adviser to President George W. Bush.

She was one of the principal proponents of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act that aimed at reforming primary and secondary education. In 2005, she convened a Commission on the Future of Higher Education to recommend reform at the post-secondary level. Since leaving this role, Spellings has founded Margaret Spellings & Company, an education consulting firm in Washington, D.C.,[1] and is a senior advisor to the Boston Consulting Group[2] and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Spellings was born Margaret Dudar on November 30, 1957 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and moved with her family to Houston when she was in the third grade. Spellings graduated from Sharpstown High School in 1975.[4]

Margaret Spellings earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Houston in 1979 and worked in an education reform commission under Texas Governor William P. Clements and as associate executive director for the Texas Association of School Boards. Before her appointment to George W. Bush's presidential administration, Spellings was the political director for Bush's first gubernatorial campaign in 1994, and later became a senior advisor to Bush during his term as Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.


Secretary of Education[edit]

Following Rod Paige's departure as Secretary of Education, Spellings was nominated to the post of the Secretary of Education by George W. Bush on November 17, 2004,[5] confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 20, 2005, which also marked the beginning of Bush's second presidential term,[6] and sworn in on January 31 the same year.[7] She is the second female Secretary of Education.

No Child Left Behind[edit]

Spellings delivers a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library; former first lady Nancy Reagan is seated at the right.

In April 2005, on PBS's The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, she called Connecticut's resistance to the No Child Left Behind Act the "soft bigotry of low expectations." According to the program's transcript,[8] she said:

In a January 2007 speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Spellings said,

Controversy overseeing student loan programs[edit]

On May 10, 2007, Spellings testified before the House Education and Labor Committee responding to criticism from New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo that the Education Department had been "asleep at the switch" in overseeing student loan programs, allowing corruption and conflicts of interest to spread.[9] Spellings has further gone on record to say that she is disregarding the suggestion by the Inspector General to hold the loan companies accountable for their gaffe.[10]

Commission on the Future of Higher Education[edit]

In September 2005, Spellings announced the formation of the Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education, which has also been referred to as the Spellings Commission.[11] The commission was charged with recommending a national strategy for reforming post-secondary education, with a particular focus on how well colleges and universities were preparing students for the 21st-century workplace. It had a secondary focus on how well high schools were preparing students for post-secondary education. Spellings described the work of the commission as a natural extension into higher education of the reforms carried out under No Child Left Behind, and is quoted as saying: "It's time we turn this elephant around and upside down and take a look at it."[12]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Spellings appeared on Celebrity Jeopardy! (episode airing November 21, 2006). She was the first sitting Cabinet member to appear as a contestant on the show. She came in second with a score of $11,100, losing to actor Michael McKean's $38,800.[13]


  1. ^ Fox News (2009). Ex-Bush Team Acclimates to Private Life. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
  2. ^ The Boston Consulting Group (2009). Former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings Named Senior Advisor to The Boston Consulting Group. Retrieved August 9, 2009.
  3. ^ "U.S. Chamber Names Margaret Spellings as Senior Advisor | U.S. Chamber of Commerce". 2009-04-03. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  4. ^ Houston Independent School District[dead link]
  5. ^ "Bush Taps Spellings For Education". CBS News. Associated Press. 2004-11-17. Retrieved 2008-07-26. 
  6. ^ "Rice confirmation vote delayed". CNN. 2005-01-20. Retrieved 2008-07-26. 
  7. ^ Feller, Ben (2005-01-31). "Spellings touts role as first education chief with school-age children". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-07-26. 
  8. ^ "Online NewsHour: Margaret Spellings Discusses New Guidelines for the No Child Left Behind Law - April 7, 2005". Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  9. ^[dead link]
  10. ^ Lipka, Sara (2008-01-10). "". Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  11. ^ "In Focus: The Spellings Commission". Inside Higher Ed. 
  12. ^ Doug Lederman (September 8, 2006). "". Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  13. ^ "J! Archive, Show #5107". Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  14. ^ "The Daily Show, May 22, 2007". Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  15. ^ "''The Colbert Report'' Episode Guide". Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  16. ^ The topic she was grilled on was the Roleplaying Game Dungeons & Dragons owing to the death of D&D co-creator Gary Gygax that week. Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! : NPR

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Roderick Paige
U.S. Secretary of Education
Served under: George W. Bush

Succeeded by
Arne Duncan