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UPDATED: Ed Sec Watch: Arne Duncan?

| 24 Comments

There have been a number of names floated around the edublogs as possible Secretary of Education under a potential Obama administration, including former Govs. Roy Romer of Colorado and Jim Hunt of North Carolina. Another name is Linda Darling-Hammond, who has been advising the Obama campaign. And some folks have also mentioned Andrew J. Rotherham, co-director of Education Sector. (I would miss his blog if he got the nod).

But it's also possible that if he wins, Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, would look no farther than his own home state of Illinois - at Chicago public schools superintendent Arne Duncan. Apparently, the two play basketball together.

It's been said that the statements - one by the Education Equality Project, another by a coalition of researchers and policymakers called the "Bigger, Bolder, Broader", released the same week and intended to influence the Presidential campaign - represent the two factions of the Democratic party on education policy.

Duncan signed both statements. Obama has also said he agrees with both.

What do you think? Possibility or no? Any other ideas of who would make a good Education Secretary under an Obama or McCain administration? Michele and I are open to any and all tips on this topic, so please shoot us an email or post in the comments section.

UPDATED:
Alexander Russo over at This Week in Education thinks we should cross Duncan off the list.

24 Comments

Either Romer or Hunt is a way better choice than the others - they have that state experience that's key in education, and may be able to help press the governors. I agree with Russo that Duncan hasn't really done much to warrant a nod.

Did Obama really say he agreed with both groups? Do you have that quote somewhere? Thanks.

After Romer's dismal, do-nothing tenure in L.A. I don't see how he could be appointed dog-catcher. His administration was the biggest flop in L.A. history until Admiral Brewer showed up.

It would be nice to have an educator, someone that actually taught.

If Arne is on the short list then the long list must be really scary

Like many of my teacher friends in Chicago and its neighboring communities, I am concerned at the prospect of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. What is the NEA saying about this? Who can we contact on the Obama transition team to voice our concerns? Please contact me at bgiegerich@lths.net if you would like to help us mobilize.

From your perspective as a teacher in Chicago public schools, what can you tell us teachers? Will there be an opportunity to teach children, respecting their developmental stages and innate curiosity, encouraging a love of learning, or will we be teaching to a test, creating more unhappy robots and dropouts? Will teachers be judged by the socioeconomic levels of their students? What do you see as the future of education in our public schools? Thanks, from a teacher in a poor, 80% English learner population school in California.

Commenting on this post:
"From your perspective as a teacher in Chicago public schools, what can you tell us teachers? Will there be an opportunity to teach children, respecting their developmental stages and innate curiosity, encouraging a love of learning, or will we be teaching to a test, creating more unhappy robots and dropouts? Will teachers be judged by the socioeconomic levels of their students? What do you see as the future of education in our public schools? Thanks, from a teacher in a poor, 80% English learner population school in California."

Sounds like someone does not want to be held accountable for one's job. The teacher unions need to go, why do you think that private schools and home schooled children do so much better then public school children?

"not be held accountable for one's job"??? You are, most definitely, not a teacher. Teachers love to be held accountable - there is nothing we love more than seeing our students succeed, hearing them discuss things they have learned in our classes, and watching them apply those things in their lives. What we DON'T like to see is chidren who are frustrated because their learning is gearing around bubbling in answers on scantron sheets to questions that have little or no significance to them. Teachers these days are ordered by the administration to teach what will be on the test in the way it will be tested. - you see, we can be fired if we don't do what they tell us - regardless of any union, or what any union-basher might think. As for your assertion about homeschooled and private schooled children, there is one main explanation. Neither of these groups of children take the mandated state tests, and so teachers (and parents) are allowed to teach things that increase critical thinking and can be applied to prior knowledge. Also, private school classes are normally about 20:1, and homeschooled children are 1:1. Public school classrooms are usually 35:1, with some even going as high as 40:1. It is more difficult to learn with so little personal teacher attention.

GREAT response, Lisa. I am not even a teacher, but as a parent of 4 (two high school junios and a pair of elementary students) I have been continually frustrated in the watered down education that my kids are getting.

I had my younger two (the older two refused) sit with me during the elections so that we could discuss what was going on in the world, how it affected them, etc. During mock school elections they split their vote for president... so i think I did a decent job of encouraging them to think for themselves.

But I have seen the stress from teachers and students alike when it comes to taking statewide 'comprehension' exams.

We need to fight for a better way of managing our school.

I agree. Very nice response, Lisa. I have been a teacher for almost 10 years, and you voiced my exact thoughts, except perhaps a bit more kindly that I would have.

Lisa, I agree with you about the private school/home school vs. public school (class sizes) and the whole teaching to the test thing (that IS frustrating), but I do have a bit of a bone to pick with unions. For my entire life I've wanted to be a teacher and graduated with a B.A. in History and a B.S. in Secondary Education in 2007. I taught high school last year and loved it but decided to go back to school to get my Phd and teach college for a few reasons, and the most significant one has to do with unions.
The main reason had to do with pay scale. My high school had a rigid pay school for teachers. Each teacher was placed in one of 5 pay scales (BA, BA+15, MA, MA + 15, Phd). We were then paid according to how many years we taught. While I was happy with my salary (it seemed like a princely sum to a college grad), what did rub me the wrong way was that the teacher two classrooms over who only showed videos, gave the students worksheets and had other students grade them, was paid more than I who spent hours before and after class, and on weekends, coming up with lesson plans. I say it's high time we find a way to pay for teachers who perform and easily fire those teachers who don't. How we do this is beyond me (there are so many factors for what makes a good teacher, not to mention the great diversity of students), but some work needs to be done. So, I'm happy to get an Ed. secretary that is willing to look into this sort of thing.
If we can find some way to do this then I can't wait to get back to teaching high school. If not, I'm not sure I can work in a place where incompetence/irresponsibility is covered by union contracts and diligence/responsibility is less important than seniority.

John, if you think that you will find pay according to merit rather than seniority in college teaching, you will be VERY disappointed.

John, if you think that you will find pay according to merit rather than seniority in college teaching, you will be VERY disappointed.

John, if you think that you will find pay according to merit rather than seniority in college teaching, you will be VERY disappointed.

John, if you think that you will find pay according to merit rather than seniority in college teaching, you will be VERY disappointed.

Is the Sec. of Education appointment the kind of Change America voted for? Arne Duncan somehow went from just an undergrad degree in sociology and being a professional basketball player in Australia to becoming 'appointed' CEO (pathetic title for a 100% public funded non-profit institution) then being 'appointed' again by Obama. The man never even was a teacher on top of it. Is this just pork or what ???

Bonnie, I'm under few illusions as far as anything close to exclusively merit based pay for college teaching (the similar can be said for almost any profession), but at least I won't be bound to a rigid salary structure that removes any chance of negotiation or performance-based pay.

Yes, you are correct I am not a teacher but I am friends with several and I did attend both public and private schools. I also have children that have attended both public and private schools. The schools student teacher ratio is about the same in both private and public schools in my district. While I am not a big proponent of the teach to the standardized tests, there has to be a way to measure district/school and teacher performance. If there were no way to measure the level of education a student is getting then the poorly educated areas will continue to be poorly educated, while the rich people will continue to get a good education even if they have to pay for it. The approach to teaching to the test is the approach being utilized because teachers are not allowed to employ innovative approaches to teaching (because of tenured influence on unions). These unions are the reason our education level has dropped over the years, where status quo is the standard. Don’t get me wrong I think that good teachers should be paid more and not so good teachers should be fired, oh wait the unions will not allow that. One thing the teachers in public schools must remember is those students in those schools do and will pay your salary and the better education you give them the better tax base your district will have.

As an urban high school teacher, my biggest issues around education have to do with discipline problems in the classroom. We need a better, more effective way of dealing with behavior problems so that the students who really want to learn can. I don't want to kick the other students out, because that just creates more problems for society later. I hope Mr. Duncan has a answer to that problem.

HUHHHH: ARNE DUNCAN. OH YEA, #1 STARTED AND ORGANIZED THE ONLY HOMOSEXUAL SCHOOL IN THE UNITED STATES. #2 PRO-CHOICE WITH ACCOLADES FROM PP. HOW COULD THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATON PICK A MORE QUALIFIED EXPERIENCED INDIVIDUAL? I GUESS HE IS THE "CHOSEN ONE" FOR OUR CHILDREN. OH...HOW EXCITING WILL BE

It may be too late but my candidate for Secretary of Education would have been Bill Cosby. He has a Ph.D. in Education, is a good role model and he speaks his mind no matter who gets hurt. It may not be too late. At the rate the dominoes are falling, maybe Duncan might resign too to save Obama from further embarassment following Richardson, Daschle and the lady whose name I can't remember.

I watched and listened to Duncan on Charlie Rose last evening.

I think it would be wise to listen to what he has to say, his reasoning why and how things go.

He certainly made me excited for the very much needed renovations in our school system

The comments I've read here seem to think within our borders. Isn't the truth of it that US schools have fallen behind other nations in the world? If that is true, then we need someone who sees that as a challenge and who will think outside the USA box.

I'm waiting. I think he has great potential unless the boxed up people want to stay in the system as it is.

I can just see the next wave or horror movies! I wuz a kidd in da Americas schooles sistems!

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