A union-busting lawyer as Arne Duncan's General Counsel?
A union-busting lawyer as Arne Duncan’s General Counsel?
Word came late last week that Chicago lawyer Charlie Rose (no, not that Charlie Rose) is being nominated to be the U.S. Department of Education’s General Counsel. Here’s the meat of his bio as released by the White House:
Charlie Rose is a founding partner and corporate secretary of Franczek, Radelet & Rose in Chicago where he specializes in representing school districts, municipalities and other public organizations in labor relations, collective bargaining and education law. He has served as the lead negotiator on collective bargaining agreements for many organizations including Chicago Public Schools , the City of Chicago , the Chicago Park District and the Illinois State Board of Education. Rose is a member of the National Council of School Attorneys and was elected a Fellow of the College of Labor & Employment Lawyers in 2008. He is a founding member of the Board of Directors of Advance Illinois and also serves on the Chicago Advisory Board of Facing History and Ourselves. Additionally, he was one of the first members of the Advisory Board of the National College of Education at National-Louis University .
I met Charlie once and my impression was of a tough-talking, no-nonsense reformer. As you can see above, he’s spent his life representing school systems (and other agencies) against unions, and helped to found Advance Illinois, a new state-based school reform group in the mold of ConnCan or EdVoice. So I’ve got to say: it sounds like another stellar choice by Arne Duncan. My only concern is whether he’ll be savvy enough about federal policy (a topic I imagine he hasn’t wrestled with before) to give good advice to his boss. So I’m giving this nomination a “Warm” rating instead of “Red Hot.” What do you think? Cast your vote below.
And does this job matter? Indeed, quite a lot. The General Counsel is the fourth-ranking position in the Department (after Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and Undersecretary). The Office of General Counsel is traditionally one of the most powerful in the agency, perhaps second only to the Budget Service. The job of the General Counsel is to, well, give counsel to the Secretary on legal matters, but also to ensure that the career lawyers at the Department are giving good advice and not just dressing up their personal policy preferences with legal arguments. (This is a real issue. One reason the Bush Administration regrettably ignored career lawyers at timessuch as with Reading Firstwas because some were known for not shooting straight, and for raising legal questions about policies they simply disagreed with.) So I’ll give this a 4 out of 10 in terms of significance.
The team is shaping up and looking quite good. If only the policy substance were as strong as the personnel.
Photograph from Franczek Radelet & Rose website