The U.S. Department of Education (ED) plans to announce that Tim Magner, former deputy director of ED’s Office of Educational Technology (OET), has been named the nation’s top ed-tech official, eSchool News has learned.

Magner, who served as executive director of K-12 education for Microsoft Corp. before joining ED, would take the place of Susan Patrick, who left the department seven months earlier to accept a position as executive director of the Virginia-based North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL).

Though ED had not made an official announcement regarding Magner’s status as of Friday morning, an automatic message forwarded from Magner’s work account confirmed the promotion, stating that as of Feb. 16, “I will be serving as the Director, Office of Educational Technology for the U.S. Department of Education.”

Although Magner’s name had been mentioned as the logical choice to replace Patrick, ED officials have been reluctant to confirm the promotion, saying up until late last month that they were still considering candidates to fill the position.

Meanwhile, several educational technology advocates who spoke with eSchool News about the longstanding vacancy said not having a leader at OET to lobby on behalf of their interests made it increasingly difficult to build a case for educational technology at the national level.

As news of Magner’s impending appointment circulated around ed-tech circles yesterday, the response out of Washington and around the country was encouraging.

“I applaud the Department of Education for bringing into this pivotal role a professional of Tim’s caliber,” wrote Don Knezek, chief executive officer for the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE). “Tim Magner brings a unique blend of depth of experience, passion for innovation, exceptional skill for navigating the education policy arena, and sincere commitment to improving schools.”

Joe Kitchens, superintendent of the Western Heights Public Schools in Oklahoma City, called the move “a very positive development,” adding that Magner is “extremely talented, innovative, and very deserving of this important appointment.”

“Tim gets it–that kids get it,” noted Elliot Soloway, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering. “Technology is the hook and the opportunity for today’s digital youth. Our community can definitely breathe easier now.”

But not too easy, cautioned ISTE’s Knezek.

“As Tim knows well, he comes to this leadership post in ED’s Office of Educational Technology at a particularly critical time,” said Knezek. “Facing the challenge of an administration retreating from support of technology–one of the cornerstones of global competitiveness–Tim accepts the awesome responsibility of orchestrating the rebirth of a federal educational technology agenda to ensure competitiveness of our educational system, and of our workforce, over the next decades.”

Magner’s other related work experience includes directing the Schools Interoperability Framework and working for the Public Broadcasting Service. He also was the director of technology for Framingham Public Schools in Massachusetts and taught graduate courses at Framingham State College and George Mason University.

Magner began his career as a high school social studies teacher and taught middle and high school in France and Switzerland. He has a B.A. from William & Mary and an M.ED from Harvard University.

Be sure to check back with eSchool News next week for more on this developing story.


U.S. Department of Education