The following email was sent to me by a Washington, D.C. insider who has been part of the Beltway scene for many years:

“Turnover at ED may be at a record high.

“One former ED staffer told me this week, “Morale at the Department is very, very low. Arne has made so many enemies among teachers and administrators and Chiefs and Congress that it has become painful [for a Dept. staff person] to be on the line supporting his policies to our (ED) constituencies in the field. The Administration has only two years, and everyone knows that if they wait until the last year, finding another job will be more difficult because of the rush, so they consider themselves ahead of the game if they bail now.” I asked about new appointments, and she said, “There should be no shortage because having a Department job with a good title for less than two years is a pretty good gig: you add the title to your resume while knowing that you won’t have to put up with the bureaucratic B.S. for very long.” And, she added: “Since Obama isn’t going to get his nominees confirmed, appointees can, instead, take a Department ‘advisory’ job, make the same pay, and avoid having to go through hearings by a hostile Senate.”

My confidant added:

“At the same time Ted Mitchell was nominated (November 2013), Obama/Duncan nominated Ericka Miller, chief administrator at Ed Trust, to be Asst Sec for Higher Ed.

“Mitchell got confirmed last spring but Miller did not.

“I heard that the higher ed community told Senators that they weren’t happy with Miller. Her higher ed experience is limited to a few semesters teaching English at tiny Mills College in Oakland. (When you were at OERI, Ericka was Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey’s LA for ed.)

“News about Miller’s nomination a year ago:

“So she has been cooling her heels at Ed Trust, I gather, waiting for the Senate to act. Oddly, friends on the Hill say that Arne et al have done virtually nothing to work the Senate HELP committee to confirm her (unlike their extensive work on behalf of Ted). Now they’ve given up. No way, if the Senate Dems wouldn’t confirm her, that the GOP Senate will.

“Rumor has it that Miller, like King, will now go to ED in January as an unconfirmed Sr. Advisor to Arne (in her case on higher ed.). I haven’t seen any formal announcement … just internal Dept correspondence. Will she then be doing the work of a confirmed Asst Sec?! Who knows? This Administration is good at finding ways to bypass Congress…often understandably.

“In the last 2 yrs of the Obama Administration one will see policy (all Depts, not just at ED) overseen by “Advisors.” In Miller’s case for Higher Ed; in King’s case Shelton’s portfolio I guess.

“What is the Ed Trust-like Higher Ed approach? Ratings of Ed schools based on the achievement scores of students of teacher graduates of the school? That seems to be Arne’s philosophy; whether Miller subscribes to it I don’t know. But Ed Trust was an NCLB advocate … and one can see some similarities in the “reform” belief/approach, i.e., teach/assess/rank instructors.

“Arne’s not going away…Obama loves him. Now most of his top staff will all be technical “Advisors.” As one DC-based wag put it this week, “Don’t expect much action from ED in the next 2 years.”