CPS Chief Goes to Head of Obama's Class

Duncan chosen as Education Secretary

President-elect Barack Obama will tap Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan on Tuesday to be his Education Secretary, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet reports on her blog.

The appointment will come during a press conference at a Chicago school, the Dodge Renaissance Academy, 2651 W. Washington.

Duncan has run the country's third-biggest school district for the past seven years and has focused on improving struggling schools, closing those that fail and getting better teachers.

Obama has not signaled how he will try to fix the country's ailing schools and he has avoided taking sides in a debate between reform advocates and teachers' unions.

The choice of Duncan may please the competing factions.

Teachers' unions wanted an advocate for their members.  Reform advocates wanted someone like New York schools chancellor Joel Klein, who wants teachers and schools held accountable.

The current Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, showered Duncan with accolades during a visit to Chicago last week, but stopped short of giving him an official endorsement.

"He’s a terrific school leader. I consider him a fellow reformer and someone who cares deeply about students. He’d be a great choice," Spellings said during an event at Westcott Elementary School last week.

Duncan's name had been floated among several others for the cabinet-level position, including Michael Bennet, the superintendent of Denver's public schools; Jon Schnur, the founder and CEO of New Leaders for New schools; Paul Vallas, the superintendent of Recover School District in New Orleans; and Linda Darling-Hammand, and education professor at Stanford University.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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