Obama’s pick for Education secretary garners widespread praise

President-elect Barack Obama nominated Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan as Education secretary on Tuesday, picking an experienced executive who closed failing schools, embraced charter schools and negotiated a pay-for-performance program with teachers unions.

"For years we've talked our education problems to death in Washington, but we failed to act, stuck in the same tired debates that have stymied our progress, all along failing to acknowledge that both sides have good ideas and good intentions," Obama said.

Duncan has served as chief executive of Chicago public schools since 2001. Obama praised his embrace of diverse methods for improving education. Duncan is "not beholden to one ideology" but shares with the president-elect a "deep pragmatism in terms of how we go about" improving education, Obama said.

In Chicago, Duncan closed a failing school and reopened it as an academy where students learned from teachers pursuing degrees in higher education. He supported master teacher certification, backed public charter schools and linked teacher pay to school performance. Duncan has called education "the civil rights issue of our generation."

The choice pleased teachers unions and education reformers. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, lauded Duncan's collaboration with Chicago's teacher unions. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, who has championed reform and tough accountability standards, called Duncan "a visionary leader and fellow reformer who cares deeply about students."

House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller said Duncan is "an experienced and accomplished leader who is open to the new, bold and innovative ideas needed to truly improve our schools." A spokeswoman for Education and Labor ranking member Howard (Buck) McKeon said Duncan "has earned a reputation as a reformer who's not afraid to shake up the status quo in order to improve student achievement, and his appointment is a welcome sign."

Congress has yet to tackle a reauthorization of President Bush's No Child Left Behind legislation, and advocates and detractors of the bill say the 111th Congress needs to make changes to it. So far, lawmakers have been unable to agree on the best way to hold students and teachers accountable for results in the classroom. Unions have balked over proposed merit pay for teachers.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.