A commenter named Scott raised readers’ eyebrows by declaring that Obama’s choice for education secretary, Arne Duncan, doesn’t use a computer. Scott added, intriguingly, that:
“His secretary prints out the emails he receives, he writes the response and the secretary responds. The man literally does not know how to use a computer.”
Not exactly, according to two spokesmen I just talked to at the Chicago public schools headquarters. It is true, they said, that Duncan sometimes has his assistant, a woman named Maribel, print out his e-mail messages for him. But he does have a computer, and he sometimes reads his own e-mail with it. He also carries a Blackberry.
Said spokesman Mike Vaughn:
“He’s out at schools all the time, meeting with principals and meeting with administrators, meeting with kids and teachers, various meetings throughout the city. He does not spend a whole lot of time at his desk. But there are times when he sits at his desk and reads his emails, there’s times that he responds to them with Maribel, there’s times that he responds with his Blackberry.”
Another spokesman, Malon Edwards, said Duncan has championed bringing technology to education. He pointed to two schools that opened recently, with his approval: a virtual school where students can choose to work entirely from home, the Chicago Virtual Charter School, and a new school that offers online lessons inside a school building, the Virtual Opportunities Inside a School Environment school, or VOISE.