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FedTracker: Obama picks Chicago neighbor to head Education

President-elect Barack Obama has picked Arne Duncan, superintendent of Chicago's public school system, to be Secretary of Education and to spearhead the new administration’s attempts at education reform.

That’s been a long-time aim of the incoming president. It was a major part of his campaign platform, and in his Grant Park election night speech in Chicago, Obama called it one of the top five priorities for his administration.

He’s promised to spend up to $18 billion a year in new spending for various issues, including improvements for early childhood education, hiring thousands of new teachers, and extending teacher pay-for-performance programs.

Duncan first became involved in education issues in 1992, when he headed the Ariel Education Institute, which looks to improve the educational opportunities for Children in Chicago’s South Side. He joined Chicago Public Schools in 1998, and became its chief executive in 2001.

In nominating Duncan, Obama said the reform that he had overseen in Chicago would bring a “hands-on” approach to his job as Education Secretary.

“For Arne, school reform isn’t just a theory in a book,” Obama said. “And the results aren’t just about test scores or statistics, but about whether our children are developing the skills they need to compete with any worker in the world for any job.” Obama developed his political career in Chicago.

Duncan called education “the civil rights issue of our generation.”

However, various published reports pointed out that Duncan has little experience of the national political stage, which could prove a problem when trying to represent the Obama administration’s views on education to Congress, state school systems and the myriad of other interest groups in the education arena.

Posted by Brian Robinson on Dec 17, 2008 at 12:12 PM


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Reader comments

Wed, Mar 11, 2009

I am concerned that the people discussing how education should be remodeled are only charter affiliated educators. There needs to be public educators in the discussion!

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