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David Cantor, Department of Education press secretary, resigns

After five years of taking our phone calls and returning most of them, Department of Education Press Secretary David Cantor is moving on.

He had the job longer than any of his predecessors, overseeing both periods of high-frequency press outreach and long droughts of stay-the-course defense.

His departure will make it even harder for reporters to extract information out of an opaque organization, especially considering he’s leaving behind an office full of recent hires. It will also finally allow him to escape from complaints — sure to return given the dismal budget climate — that the school system spends too much money staffing its press office.

Cantor is going over to Widmeyer Communications, where he’ll remain on the education beat as the senior vice president in charge of PreK-12 education, arts, and philanthropy. Widmeyer was founded by Scott Widmeyer, an operator in the education world who cut his teeth working for teachers union president Al Shanker. But it does work for the non-union side of things, too, including the Gates Foundation and Pearson.

Cantor sent over this statement:

I have a super bittersweet feeling because I still feel totally engaged in trying make public education better. On the other hand, after five years of the daily scrum, it seemed time to go at this from a different angle. I think you need to make changes to keep your brain alive, and the end of the school year made sense as a time for change

With Cantor headed out, the DOE’s press office is undergoing a slight restructuring. The new communications director, Natalie Ravitz, is going to take over Cantor’s responsibilities as well some of those overseen by former communications director Kerri Lyon, who left the DOE in April.

Ravitz was the former senior advisor and deputy chief of staff to California Sen. Barbara Boxer.


Chancellor Appoints Natalie Ravitz as Communications Director

Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced the resignation of Press Secretary David Cantor. After serving five years as Press Secretary, Cantor will be leaving the Department of Education on July 1 to serve as Senior Vice President overseeing the PreK-12 education, arts, and philanthropy practice of Widmeyer Communications, a New York-based communications firm. Chancellor Klein also announced the appointment of Natalie Ravitz as Communications Director. In that role, Ms. Ravitz will serve as the agency’s chief spokesperson and oversee its Office of Communications and Media Relations. The appointment of Ms. Ravitz, who most recently served as Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to United States Senator Barbara Boxer, is effective immediately.

“In positioning New York City as a leader in education reform and positively shifting public perception of New York City public schools, David has been an invaluable member of the New York City Department of Education during the last five years,” Chancellor Klein said. “While his departure will be a loss for the Department, I’m pleased that David will continue to bring his considerable experience and sharp intellect to work on education reform issues in his new role.”

Since April 2009, Ms. Ravitz has served as Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer. She simultaneously served as spokesperson and advisor to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. Prior to serving as Deputy Chief of Staff, Ms. Ravitz spent six years as Senator Boxer’s Communications Director and Press Secretary. She joined Boxer after working as Press Secretary for Paul Wellstone’s 2002 campaign for the United States Senate. She received a B.A. from the University of Michigan and is originally from New Jersey.

“Natalie brings to the Department extensive experience in communications and government that will serve our schools and children well,” Chancellor Klein said. “Her background and creative approach to the job will strengthen our communications team and help us effectively communicate the work we’re doing on behalf of the City’s 1.1 million public school students.”

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