Obama recently revealed his pick for Secretary of Education. Before the announcement was made, the primary two candidates were Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne (pronounced “arn-ee”) Duncan and New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein; Stanford education professor Linda Darling-Hammond, Obama’s education advisor, was also mentioned as under consideration. Ultimately, Arne Duncan was Obama’s choice.
I have had some high hopes for Obama’s administration on education. I’m a strong opponent (as it seems most teachers are these days) of the way No Child Left Behind has impacted public schools across the country, and I have long wanted to see change happen regarding what seems to be a very poorly implemented act (at best). When I found out that Linda Darling-Hammond was under consideration, I was even more hopeful: Darling-Hammond has been very vocal about her opposition to NCLB, even though she acknowledges that the act has some good points (and myself and other teachers have said as much as well). After the announcement, I have been a little discouraged for the pick – Duncan played basketball with Obama on Election Day (Duncan played professionally in Australia), and he is one of many Chicagoans who will be filling the Cabinet of this new administration. That hits home for me, a native (non-Chicago) Illinoisan, who has seen what sort of influence Chicago cronyism has had on our state.
That’s of course not to say that Duncan is a bad pick, certainly; his credentials look good on paper, and he obviously brings a lot of esteem as a reformer. He is not, however, a reformer when it comes to NCLB – he basically supports the intention of the act, although he has called for more funding. (Whether or not that will be even remotely possible given the enormous federal deficit is another question entirely.) But he has his good points: he is very critical of funding methods for schools, which tend to advantage those who already have an economic advantage, and the situation in Chicago public schools seems to have improved during his tenure there. (You can read more about Duncan’s accomplishments here.)
But that’s enough of my opinion. Tell me what you think: