Monday, June 15, 2009

Secretary of Education

Name: Arne Duncan
Hometown: Hyde Park, Chicago
Current City: Washington, D.C.
Job at time of Appointment: CEO of Chicago Public Schools
Age: 44

Arne Duncan graduated from Harvard University in 1987 with a degree in sociology. After a brief career in professional basketball (he has played pickup games with President Obama), he entered the field of education and became director of a program to provide better educational opportunities for children on the South Side of Chicago.

In 2001, Mayor Richard Daley appointed Duncan to serve as CEO of the Chicago Public School system. During his tenure, Duncan oversaw the nation's third-largest school district and established himself as a mediating figure with a knack for consensus-building. Obama lauded Duncan for improvements in the Chicago district-- known as one of the most challenging in the nation-- such as a rising graduation rate, merit-based pay for teachers, and the opening of new schools. Duncan eschews partisanship in issues of education; he has managed to maintain the support of teacher's unions despite his backing of reforms they oppose, and he was the only big-city superintendent to sign competing education manifestos put forth last summer.