ED's Top Tech Director Steps Down To Head Home
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Where do you go after you leave a high-profile position in the Obama administration? Back home. That's where United States Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan headed at the end of the year when he returned to Chicago. And now, so is Richard Culatta, who is stepping down as director of the Office of Educational Technology within the same federal agency.
In December, EdSurge reported that Culatta would be leaving his post after two years. He joined the department in 2011 as the deputy director to Karen Cator's directorship. When she left to run Digital Promise, he took on the director role.
Shortly after the announcement of his pending departure, another news source reported that he'd be returning to Rhode Island to work with Governor Gina Raimondo on education initiatives.
The governor is involved in several education initiatives, especially those that emphasize workforce issues and job development. In April she supported state regulations to create Prepare RI, an initiative to encourage qualified high schoolers to take college-level courses at no cost. In September, Raimondo introduced the "Promise" scholarship to restructure the state's higher ed grant program among its public institutions to be more flexible in how it closes the gap between what students pay for college and what college costs.
During his time at the Department of Education, Culatta has promoted several initiatives, including ConnectED, intended to get high-speed Internet connections into every school in the country; Future Ready Schools, a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education that pushes district leaders to commit to the transformation of their schools through digital learning; the use of open educational resources by schools; and the aggressive use of public-private partnerships to make progress in education innovation.
Culatta is a native of Rhode Island and spent several years at the University of Rhode Island as an instructional technologist during the late 1990s. He also served as a technology advisor at Brigham Young University, where he earned both a bachelor's degree in Spanish teaching and master's degree in educational psychology and technology. Before joining the Department of Education, Culatta served as a learning technologies manager for CIA University, an education facility of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and as an education fellow for Senator Patty Murray.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.