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U.S. Education Secretary: "Put Kids First" and End Strike

By BJ Lutz
|  Monday, Sep 17, 2012  |  Updated 1:17 PM CDT
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U.S. Education Secretary: "Put Kids First"

Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan chimed in Tuesday, the second day of the Chicago teacher strike, hoping the opposing sides will "put kids first" and end the stalemate.

"I hope that the parties will come together to settle this quickly and get our kids back in the classroom," Duncan said in a written statement. "I’m confident that both sides have the best interests of the students at heart, and that they can collaborate at the bargaining table -- as teachers and school districts have done all over the country -- to reach a solution that puts kids first."

Duncan was appointed U.S. Education Secretary shortly after President Barack Obama took office.

While his statement isn't clear, Duncan is likely secretly siding with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who previously served as Obama's Chief of Staff. Shortly after taking office, Duncan said more cities should adopt a model like Chicago's, where the mayor controls the school district.

"At the end of my tenure, if only seven mayors are in control, I think I will have failed," he said a forum with mayors and superintendents three years ago.

Additionally, there's a bit of bad blood between Duncan and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis. Lewis last October made fun of Duncan's slight lisp during an appearance before the Northwest Teachers for Social Justice in Seattle.

In a later interview with Chicago magazine’s Carol Felsenthal, Lewis made it clear she thinks of Duncan as a golden boy who got the Secretary of Education’s job because he’s a Labbie who played basketball at Harvard.

NBC Chicago has an array of reporters and producers covering the Chicago teacher strike. Check our live blog for continuous coverage and updates throughout the strike.

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