Obama chooses CPS CEO as education secretary

December 16, 2008 8:39:12 AM PST
Pres.-Elect Obama is expected to nominate Duncan as education secretary on Tuesday.Duncan has run the Chicago school district for seven years.

President-Elect Obama will make the announcement in a news conference on Tuesday morning at 10:45 a.m.

Speculation that Arne Duncan would be nominated for education secretary has been circulating for months because of his history with the president-elect.

As the latest Chicagoan headed for Washington, he goes with some extensive experience running the third largest school system in the country.

On Tuesday night at Dodge Renaissance Academy on the city's West Side, preparations are underway for a news conference to officially announce the selection of Arne Duncan as secretary of education.

"If 20 people were killed in Hindsdale or Winnetka would it be tolerated? I dont know the answer, said Arne Duncan, CEO Chicago Public Schools.

Last year, an emotional Arne Duncan made an impassioned plea to try and stop the killings that were plaguing the Chicago school system. It was a character trait that garnered praise for Duncan during his tenure as CEO.

Duncans predecessor Paul Vallas said in choosing Duncan, the president-elect is sending a strong message that he is pushing for reform.

"Arne was a great president he has never not succeeded in any task that he was given i believe he is one of the best choices the president has made," said Vallas, former CEO, Chicago Public Schools.

"He is one of the finest superintendants in the country, "said current secretary of education, Margaret Spellings who was in town last Thursday when asked about the possibility of Duncan replacing her. "Chicago has led the way in righting the ship and making schools better."

The Harvard grad and former professional basketball player is often teamed up with the president-elect during pick-up games in Chicago. Duncan moved to Chicago to work at Ariel Investments under John Rodgers. An Obama advisor and now co-chair of the 2009 Inauguration Committee, Duncan commented last week on the possible appointment.

"It's even humbling to have people consider you potentially. What this is about is recognizing the improvements Chicago has made. This is not about me," said Duncan.

Duncan's choice will sit well with teachers unions who wanted an advocate for their members and reformers who want teachers and schools held accountable, something Duncan has done.


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