The decision as to whether or not Betsy DeVos will be confirmed by Senate to become the next secretary of education is currently up in the air. As more and more people call their representatives to let their voices be heard, the more uncertain DeVos' potential appointment becomes — and whether or not she actually ends up filling that role becomes more murky. While DeVos' position remains in limbo, people must be wondering who the acting secretary of education is, and how are they holding up?
As the vote for DeVos continues to rightfully be drawn out (given the many questions surrounding her eligibility in terms of qualifications), someone else has been left in charge of the Education Department in Washington, D.C. That person in charge is Philip (Phil) Rosenfelt — a career employee for the Department of Education who has now been in charge of America's public schools for the past two weeks, and will remain the person in charge until DeVos is finally confirmed (if at all).
But what is there to know about Rosenfelt? According to those who know him, Rosenfelt is a very quiet person, choosing to work hard and fly under the radar — but he has a lot of experience working for the Education Department (notably, he has much more experience than DeVos). Before serving in this interim role, Rosenfelt was the Deputy General Counsel for Program Service in the Office of General Counsel at the Education Department, according to CNN, where he served in this role for the past 10 years.
According to The 74 Million, Rosenfelt was chosen by outgoing Secretary of Education John King, to be his interim successor for a reason — Rosenfelt is a trusted hard worker with "encyclopedic knowledge" of the Department of Education. That is because Rosenfelt has worked for the Department of Education since its creation, according to The 74 Million, starting off his career in government in 1971 at the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare — which went on to become the Department of Education.
Before becoming the acting secretary of education, Rosenfelt oversaw legal services for the Department of Education regarding the development and implementation of federal programs. In this position, Rosenfelt became a seasoned leader, according to Education World, overseeing a team of 100 attorneys. Earlier in his career, he was also responsible for the desegregation of a school in Alabama and ensuring all students had education in the United States, regardless of their immigration status, according to Education World. Thus, leading the Department of Education seems like a no-brainer for Rosenfelt.
But there is more to Rosenfelt than just his work. According to a 2013 profile from The Washington Post, Rosenfelt loves baseball and rock 'n' roll — two childhood obsessions that led him to pursue law and a career in advocating for students of all backgrounds. In his spare time, according to The Post, Rosenfelt has found time to work as a rock music critic, teach education law, and practice stand-up comedy.
Rosenfelt's acting position as secretary of education is not going to last forever. Sooner or later, DeVos will either be confirmed or the confirmation hearing of a new secretary will start all over again, both scenarios ending in Rosenfelt's exit. For now, though, Rosenfelt's dedication to the Department of Education and decades of experience show that the things are currently in great hands.