Obama chooses chief of Chicago — yes, Chicago — schools for secretary of education


When word got out yesterday that Barack Obama had selected Chicago Schools Chief Arne Duncan (above) as his secretary of education, one of our regular Applesauce commenters expressed wonderment that the job would go to “the leader of the failed Chicago school system.”

Apparently, this critic knows nothing about Duncan. So, let’s bring him up to speed.

The Wall Street Journal SAYS Duncan “has introduced some education reforms popular with conservatives without alienating teachers unions” and  “has improved student achievement, graduation rates and college-going rates in the nation’s third-largest school system, which was called the worst in the nation by former Education Secretary William Bennett in the late 1980s.”

The Washington Post REPORTS that Margaret Spellings, the Bush administration’s education secretary, considers Duncan “a really good school leader” and says this of him: “I do think he’s a reform-oriented school leader who has been a supporter of No Child Left Behind and accountability concepts and teacher quality. He’s a kindred spirit.”

The Post adds: “Duncan is embraced by the teachers unions, who have been concerned about high-stakes testing and worry about merit pay being tied to test scores, as well as reformers, who favor charter schools and tougher standards.”

The Chicago Tribune SAYS Duncan  has “maintained a positive story line for the troubled [Chicago] district” and “has gained a reputation as a reformer who isn’t afraid to rankle the teachers union or punish underperforming schools.”

But, of course, if you react to all things Obama from a knee-jerk anti-Chicago perspective, you’ll automatically dismiss the choice of Duncan.

UPDATE: Here’s the TEXT of Obama’s remarks this morning on the Duncan nomination.

UPDATE II: Here’s another interesting ENDORSEMENT of Duncan.


1 Comment

  1. I am sure there are many good choices for this appointment. Why did the appointment have to be a person from Chicago? I want to have confidence that our President elect is not just paying back campaign favors.

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