That’s Right Nate

Thoughts from a right thinker.

Duncan Right Choice for Education Chief

with 2 comments

Seperated at birth?

Being a Conservative Republican, I haven’t agreed with much that Barrack Obama has done, but his choice of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education is a great move.  Arne Duncan is not only an Illinois politician, he’s a Chicago politician.  In this day and age that should certainly count for something.   He has presided over the Chicago education miracle over the past 7 years which in many ways was the continuation of the Paul Vallas miracle in the years before Duncan took over and like much of the Bush administration Duncan has plenty of experience with no bid government contracts.

Arne Duncan has a very impressive resume.  After graduating college with a degree in sociology in 1987, Duncan went to Australia to play basketball professionally.  Returning to Chicago in 1992 he went to work as director of a childhood friend’s educational program on the South Side of Chicago.  In 1998 he became Chicago School Chief Paul Vallas’ Deputy Chief of Staff.  In 2001 he became head of the Chicago Public Schools.  I don’t think you’ll find many people with that kind of depth of experience interested in a  cabinet job.

In Chicago Duncan made a name for himself by closing down poorly performing schools for a year to turn them around by replacing the faculty and many of the students.  In the case of Orr High School he did this twice.  As most poor schools are African-American, Arne Duncan has personally fired over 2,000 African-American teachers this way.  This is a very impressive quality–the ability to see that the poor performing schools are in African-American neighborhoods and the foresight to take the moves necessary to improve them.  This strategy hasn’t always worked, but in neighborhoods that have simultaneously undergone gentrification, the results are quite impressive.

Duncan is part of a new breed of school administrator whose minds have not been poisoned by working in the classroom.  Instead they believe that the needs of children can best be met by the free market.  In his time in Chicago, Duncan has frequently reached out to business leaders to do for the schools what they have already done for corporate America.  The cornerstone of the Chicago Education Miracle is Renaissance 2010–A program designed to replace public schools with charters.   The program seems poised to reach its pinnacle next year with the opening of The  Transportation Academy of Chicago which will have the mission statement of training the city’s future bus drivers.

I believe that the Charter School System is our best hope for the future of education and charter schools couldn’t have a better friend than Arne Duncan.  Through charter schools parents who are concerned with their child’s education and have a little political pull can get a public  education at a newer school without the dangerous element that often can be found in the public schools.  If anybody can export the Chicago Education Miracle to the rest of the country its Arne Duncan.

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Written by thatsrightnate

December 16, 2008 at 7:21 pm

2 Responses

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  1. […] a comment » Previously, I have posted about the wonderful work done by basketball player turned educator Arne Duncan in Chicago.   Tonight, we  look at the dynamic young go getter who is  saving the Washington DC […]

  2. […] a comment » Previously, I have posted about the wonderful work done by basketball player turned educator Arne Duncan in Chicago.   Tonight, we  look at the dynamic young go getter who is  saving the Washington DC […]


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