Now that the initial flurry has subsided regarding Arne Duncan’s nomination as Secretary of Education, I thought I would add my two cents worth.
It is interesting to me to read and watch the two sides in the Democratic party argue and bicker about the future of NCLB and reform in education. No wonder it appears to outsiders that educators can’t get their act together.
Many felt that Linda Darling-Hammond from Stanford had the inside track to the Secretary’s office. I for one am not at all suprised (nor disappointed) that she was not nominated. Her focus is narrow and she is a consumate defender of the status quo.
Mr. Duncan is a mystery to many. Many have made a big deal out of the fact that Mr. Duncan and the President-Elect play pick-up basketball together. So what is wrong with having a Secretary of Education that personally models physical fitness?
Mr. Duncan has a reputation as a collaborator who seems to work very well with both sides of the great reform debate. On the one hand, he advocates for merit pay (the boon of organized teacher’s unions, although they have softened their stand on this as of late) and on the other hand has a reputation of having excellent relationships with the teacher’s unions (not a bad thing, in my opinion).
So what can we expect out of the Department of Education under Arne Duncan? The bottom line is we don’t know. He has been vague to this point (as has President-Elect Obama) on the issues that have consumed us for the past 6-7 years.
I suspect (and hope) he will both please and upset both sides by doing what he thinks is right. It is my sincerest hope in the end that his guiding principle will be finding what it right for kids. To me, that has been the missing element all along!