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UPDATED: Arne Duncan Advocates Mayoral Takeover of Big-City Districts

By Michele McNeil — March 31, 2009 1 min read

Education Secretary Arne Duncan grew up in a school system dominated by mayoral control.

He’s said he loses sleep at night over Detroit Public Schools.

And he’s weighed in on New York City’s governance structure, declaring that the city’s public schools are best left in the mayor’s hands.

Now, as if the education secretary doesn’t have enough going on, he’s wading even further—and more dramatically—into the thorny issue of local control and school governance by declaring that more big-city mayors need to take over school districts. And if the numbers don’t rise, he said according to Libby Quaid’s Associated Press story, he “will have failed as secretary.”

UPDATED: Read Libby’s latest, in-depth coverage of Duncan’s statements and the reaction. This includes Duncan’s expanded pledge to actually go to cities and lobby on behalf of mayoral control.

This is tough talk from a guy who is now the very-publicized face of public education—at least on the federal level. And local and state officials don’t usually appreciate comments from federal officials about how to govern local school districts. This is sure to irritate some of Duncan’s base of support—like teachers’ unions, the Council of Great City Schools, and the school boards association.

In fact, on Saturday, he gives a keynote at the National School Boards Association conference in San Diego. Does he dare to face that crowd and stake his legacy as education secretary on increasing mayoral control?

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