Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has joined the board of directors for Pluralsight, a Utah-based ed-tech company that provides online courses in various subjects, including software development and information technology, the news site Fast Company reported Thursday.
Duncan told Fast Company that he sees Pluralsight, which is reportedly worth more than $1 billion and is funded by Silicon Valley interests, as a way to provide more learning opportunities to a broad group of people, including those who traditionally may not have access to such courses. Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard said he hopes to eventually have the company provide free or discounted subscriptions to the courses to people from low-income and otherwise disadvantaged communities.
Duncan said he loves the “energy” and “idealism” of Silicon Valley, but added, "[I]f we’re not talking explicitly about more [women], more minorities, then we’re just leaving a huge part of our country on the sidelines, and that’s untenable to me.”
According to Business Wire, the company of 500 employees offers 4,700 courses “authored” by more than 1,000 experts.
In March, the former secretary announced he was joining the Emerson Collective, a philanthropic and advocacy organization, as a managing partner, and would work in Chicago to help dropouts and young people with criminal records.
Duncan isn’t the first former high-ranking education official from President Barack Obama’s administration to join forces with Silicon Valley in some fashion. As we reported, one of his former deputy secretaries at the Education Department, Jim Shelton, announced last month that he would lead a philanthropic education initiative recently begun by Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.
Last month, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Pluralsight in U.S. District Court, alleging that it failed to specify to its customers the steps for cancelling its subscription services, according to the Norcal Record, which covers courts in northern California.