By Corey Mitchell
U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has appointed Lorena Orozco McElwain to lead the federal office for English-language-learner education, shaking up a long-standing tradition of selecting candidates with significant experience in bilingual or federal education policy.
While she once worked as a bilingual education teacher, McElwain, unlike her predecessors, made her mark as a high-ranking civil servant in several agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, Library of Congress, and U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Since 2018, she had served as a political appointee in the Agriculture Department.
McElwain succeeds José Viana, who left the post in December. Dating back to 2001, previous directors, including Viana, have come to the office directly from jobs tied to K-12 schools, academia, education advocacy, or within the federal Education Department.