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Duncan Is Official: Now What?

By Michele McNeil — December 16, 2008 1 min read

Just a few minutes ago, President-elect Obama officially tapped Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Arne Duncan as the next education secretary.

In listening to his remarks, it’s clear that Obama wants a no-excuses leader who isn’t afraid to make tough choices to increase student achievement. Obama, as part of his announcement today in Chicago, touted Duncan’s on-the-ground experience making those tough decisions:

When faced with tough decisions, Arne doesn’t blink. He’s not beholden to any one ideology – and he doesn’t hesitate for one minute to do what needs to be done. He’s worked tirelessly to improve teacher quality, increasing the number of master teachers who’ve completed a rigorous national certification process from 11 to just shy of 1,200, and rewarding school leaders and teachers for gains in student achievement. He’s championed good charter schools – even when it was controversial. He’s shut down failing schools and replaced their entire staffs – even when it was unpopular.

Clearly, Duncan is widely respected for his reform ideas and strategy at the district level. But the education secretary job is very different. He’ll have to figure out how to bring his ideas to scale, working as part of an incredible bureaucracy that, in the end, is only responsible for about 9 percent of K-12 education funding.

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