Sanders Announces Intent to Nominate Jacob Oliva Secretary of the Department of Education

Says they are both ready to ‘transform Arkansas education’

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—Governor-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders today announced her intention to nominate Jacob Oliva, a key education leader for Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida, as the Secretary of the Department of Education, and that she intends to work in partnership with the State Board of Education to appoint him to serve in a dual role as the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“Education is the foundation for success, and, with my nominee for Secretary of Education and Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jacob Oliva, we are ready to transform Arkansas education with bold reforms that will empower every kid to succeed,” Sanders said. “Jacob’s proven success increasing student achievement and his experience serving in many educational roles will make him an asset to my administration. Through my Arkansas LEARNS plan, we will expand access to quality education for every kid growing up in our state, empower parents, not government bureaucrats, and prepare students for the workforce, not government dependency, so everyone has a shot at a better life right here in Arkansas.” 

“Governor-elect Sanders has the right vision to unleash Arkansas education, and I’m excited to get to work on day one to enact it,” Oliva said. “Education is the key to the future, creating opportunity for all, which is why I’ve spent my career implementing successful early learning programs, empowering parents with choices, and investing in career readiness. I am ready to continue that work here in Arkansas and look forward to working with Governor-elect Sanders to build a bright future for our students.” 

Jacob Oliva biography:
Jacob Oliva currently serves as senior chancellor at the Florida Department of Education, where he has been a leader implementing Governor DeSantis’ parental rights policies and bold education reforms.

He joined the Florida Department of Education as Executive Vice Chancellor of Public Schools in 2017. He became Chancellor in 2019, where he supported the teaching and learning of Florida’s over 2.8 million students in approximately 3,600 public schools, promoting student achievement and closing achievement gaps. In 2021, he was elevated to the role of Senior Chancellor, and his responsibilities expanded to include early learning, choice programs, school safety, and school accountability. Additionally, he provides statewide leadership and communication between the Florida Department of Education and Florida’s school districts. He was appointed Interim Commissioner in 2022.

After graduating from Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Flagler College, he started his educational career over two decades ago as an elementary teacher for students with special needs in Flagler County. He went on to serve as a principal at both the elementary and high school level, and as an assistant superintendent and superintendent of Flagler County Schools. 

Jacob Oliva was born and raised in Miami, is Hispanic as the son of a Cuban-born father, and has lived the American dream and empowered thousands of others to do the same by expanding access to quality education. Jacob and his wife Rebecca are the parents of two children.