Arne Duncan would stay at Education for 2nd Obama term

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

If President Obama wins a second term, Education Secretary Arne Duncan will stay in his job, he toldNational Journal on Thursday.

“I am staying, unless the president gets sick of me,” Duncan said after speaking at a K-12 Education Forum sponsored by the Hamilton Project. That’s unlikely to happen, considering that Obama and Duncan both cut their teeth on politics in Chicago and have a strong relationship.

Duncan told the forum that he wants to continue the education projects he started in Obama’s first term, although the $100 billion for education programs that came from the economic stimulus bill in 2009 probably won’t be available the next time around. Duncan said he wants to focus particular attention on the bookends of education: early-childhood development and higher education.

“Our Department of Education has been part of the problem” in ignoring early-childhood learning to shore up the K-12 grades, Duncan said. Attempting to remedy that problem, the department this year devoted a significant portion of its Race to the Top competitive grants to early-childhood education efforts. Although the department likely won’t have a lot of extra money for several years, it can still provide incentives for states to invest in those programs.

It should come as no surprise that a second Obama administration also would make sky-high college tuition rates a big focus. Obama's pledge to tackle college costs has been a big applause line on the campaign trail. He often holds rallies at college campuses, and earlier this year found a message that resonated with students when he pressed Congress to act to keep student-loan interest rate from rising.

Duncan put it simply: “We need to crack the nut on higher education.… Middle-class families think college is not for them.”

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