The Biden-Harris administration has named two Teachers College alumni, Jessica Cardichon and Ramin Taheri, to positions in the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE).

Cardichon (Ed.D. ’03, M.A. ’99) will serve the Department as Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. Cardichon received both of her TC degrees in Politics & Education and is a past member of the College’s Alumni Council. She earned her J.D. from Elizabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.

Cardichon most recently directed the Washington D.C. office and federal policy arm of the Learning Policy Institute. Earlier in her career, she was a teacher in New York City for seven years and then worked at TC as a program manager for implementation of early career educator induction programs. She was also an education counsel to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and Senior Director for Federal Policy and Advocacy at the Alliance for Excellent Education.

Cardichon has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University.

In an opinion piece for the Learning Policy Institute’s “Learning in the Time of COVID-19” blog series, published in late December, Cardichon and co-authors wrote that the new bipartisan federal rescue package “provides much-needed relief” but is “over $100 billion short of what our public school systems would need to support students through the pandemic and address the ongoing impact of their disrupted learning.” 

And in “Protecting Students' Civil Rights: The Federal Role in School Discipline,” a May 2019 article on the Institute’s site, Cardichon and former TC faculty member Linda Darling-Hammond wrote that “zero-tolerance” school discipline policies, such as suspensions and expulsions for nonviolent and subjective offenses, “often result in negative consequences for student academic achievement, attainment, and welfare.”

“Data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights Data Collection demonstrate that students of color and students with disabilities, among other historically underserved students, are disproportionately suspended and expelled compared with their White and nondisabled peers,” Cardichon and Darling-Hammond wrote.

Watch a talk by Cardichon, delivered in 2018 at an event convened by the Shanker Institute, about the implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Taheri (M.A. ’01) has been named Chief of Staff for USDOE’s Office of Civil Rights, where he was a senior attorney between 2010 and 2014. Taheri earned his TC degree in Developmental Psychology. He also holds a law degree from Boston University Law School.

Taheri most recently led the Washington, D.C., chapter of Democrats for Education Reform and was previously General Counsel and Director of Advocacy at Chiefs for Change, a nonprofit education advocacy organization whose members lead district and state education systems. Taheri has also served as a special assistant to the Deputy Mayor for Education in Washington, D.C., and as a senior policy advisor in the USDOE’s Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development.

This past September, Taheri published an opinion piece in The 74 headlined “Giving At-Risk Kids Priority in Lottery for D.C. Charter Schools Can Help Integration and Right a Historic Wrong.”

“The power of public school choice lies in its ability to detach a child’s destiny from his or her residential address,” he wrote. “To truly harness that power, however, we must prioritize those students and families who have too often been overlooked or underserved. Increasing diversity and providing more equitable access to highly rated, in-demand schools are achievable goals, but only if we affirmatively decide to pursue them.”  

Watch a September 2019 clip of Taheri discussing problems in the Houston public schools, in which he argues for the importance of school leadership that “doesn’t stand for the status quo” and “doesn’t accept anything less than the best.”