Sean Spiller, vice president of the New Jersey Education Association has given the state’s congressional delegation a heads up that he’s interested in the position of U.S. Secretary of Education under a Joe Biden administration according to six sources.
It was not immediately clear if Spiller has been in touch with the Biden transition team, but those with knowledge of the process told POLITICO Spiller has already notified the New Jersey federal delegation and Gov. Phil Murphy that his name may be floated.
Spiller did not respond to calls or emails but NJEA spokesperson Steve Baker said in a text message that, while he hasn’t seen any shortlist, if Spiller is being considered, “he would make a terrific Secretary of Education.”
“Sean was a huge supporter of Biden and Harris during the election and I’m confident he’s willing to do whatever he can to support their progressive education agenda,” Baker said.
Biden’s transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Spiller, a science teacher at Wayne Valley High School in Passaic County and current mayor of Montclair, checks plenty of boxes for a Biden administration: young, charismatic, Black, a savvy political player, union leader and K-12 teacher. Biden has said he is committed to putting a public school teacher in the post.
Rumors have been circulating recently that Spiller has his eyes on a higher office with some suggesting he may be considering a run for New Jersey governor in 2025.
Though he doesn’t appear to have close ties to Biden or the president-elect’s inner circle, Spiller would be an interesting pick for secretary. He’s less well known — and less polarizing — than other names on the list including Randi Weingarten, the longtime president of the American Federation of Teachers and Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford University professor of education and president and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute. Lily Eskelsen García, an elementary school teacher who recently stepped down as president of the National Education Association has also been in the mix for the job.
While the American Federation of Teachers gave the Biden campaign specific names of people they would support as a replacement for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the National Education Association has not publicized a list of its own.
NEA President Becky Pringle told POLITICO last month her conversations with Biden have focused on the qualifications for an education secretary and said the union would work with him on recommendations.
Matt Friedman and Michael Stratford also contributed to this report.