Higher Ed: Duncan tapped for Secretary of Education

by David Introwitz

President-Elect Barack Obama has chosen Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan to be his secretary of education, in an announcement made last Tuesday on the President-Elect’s official website. In a prepared speech, Obama praised Duncan for his "hands-on" experience with reforming Chicago’s public school district.


"He’s not beholden to any one ideology – and he doesn’t hesitate for one minute to do what needs to be done," Obama said in the speech.


The nomination has been met with mixed reactions, notably from world-renowned journalist Greg Palast, who, on his own website, blasted Obama for choosing his "pick-up basketball buddy from Hyde Park." (Duncan was co-captain of Harvard University’s basketball team while Obama was there.)


Palast went on to criticize Duncan for supporting President George W. Bush’s "No Child Left Behind" doctrine of increasing the amount of standardized testing in Chicago schools, at the expense of better teaching.


As far as higher education is concerned, Duncan will continue a trend of education secretaries who have limited understanding of in-depth higher ed issues. Not since Lauro Cavazos in 1990 has there been an education secretary with a higher ed background.