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December 18, 2008
Remainders: Here come the teacher data reports
The teacher data reports — those whose battle went all the way to Albany — are out. A new web site calls attention…
December 17, 2008
Remainders: Are we being mis-informed about Arne Duncan?
Rick Kahlenberg urges Arne Duncan to think about magnet schools in addition to charters. Russo files a must-read on misinformation he says is…
December 16, 2008
Does Arne Duncan use a computer? His office says yes he does
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.
December 16, 2008
From Tweed to the classroom, New Yorkers weigh in on Duncan
Since last night, when it became clear that Arne Duncan would be nominated today to be the country’s next secretary of education, statements from school officials, advocates, and policy wonks across the country have been rolling into our e-mail inbox at a fast and furious clip. Here’s a compilation of statements from folks in New York City, including Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, UFT President Randi Weingarten, a high school student, and more. We’ll post more reactions as we get them.
December 16, 2008
Obama on "pragmatist" pick: "Let's not be clouded by ideology"
Embedded video from &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://www.cnn.com/video" mce_href="http://www.cnn.com/video"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;CNN Video&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; President-elect Obama just announced Arne Duncan, the Chicago schools chief, as his secretary of education. In doing so he suggested that pragmatism, not ideology, will be his guiding principle in navigating the wars inside the Democratic Party over how to improve schools. "Let's not be clouded by ideology," he said, praising Duncan's "deep pragmatism." Obama reiterated his support for innovations like merit pay for teachers and charter schools, yet also indicated he may sympathize with the incrementalists in the disrupter-versus-incrementalist debate that George Miller, the chair of the House's education committee, laid out recently. "We're not going to transform the schools overnight," he said. As Elizabeth wrote yesterday, the next place to watch is the sub-cabinet positions.
December 15, 2008
Joel Klein likes Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan as Ed Sec
No hint of jealousy in a statement Klein just put out on the news about Duncan: “Arne has been one of the country’s great…
December 15, 2008
Times reports: It's Arne!
The very tall man who will be Obama's education secretary. (Via Flickr) The New York Times' Sam Dillon reports that Arne Duncan will be the next secretary of education. The president-elect is to announce tomorrow. Obama sources do not disclose to Dillon what Duncan will do about No Child Left Behind, testing, teacher quality, or tenure. And the mystery stays alive! An easier-to-unwrap question I'd like to look into: Was Joel Klein ever actually in the running? UPDATE: More context by request. Duncan, the schools chief in Chicago, is a safe choice that signals only what we had already been told, that when faced with all-out policy brawls, Obama would prefer not to pick a side. In the ongoing, raging war over education policy, Duncan had the stamp of both sides, the nameless reformers (idealocrat reformers?) and the teachers unions, or at least of Randi Weingarten, the union leader. By choosing Duncan as his education figurehead, Obama has avoided two wars.
December 4, 2008
Chicago's Arne Duncan: Education's one-man team of rivals?
I spent all of last week in Hyde Park, Chicago, currently the epicenter of American political activity because of its most prominent resident, President-elect Barack Obama. Technically, I was on vacation, but I couldn’t help asking folks I met what they think about Arne Duncan, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, one of Obama’s basketball buddies and a man who is increasingly looking like the president-elect's choice for education secretary. Unlike other candidates mentioned for education secretary, who wear their ideologies strongly on their sleeves, Duncan has (like Obama) walked a finer line, signing onto both of the dueling petitions on where Obama should take his policy. So it seems more important, in his case, to figure out what exactly he has done. The results of my completely non-rigorous reporting were not too encouraging. One parent at the private school attended by Obama's daughters — which Duncan himself attended and where his wife now teaches — said the scuttlebutt was that Duncan lacks the political savvy to cut it on the national stage. And when I popped into a neighborhood clothing store, I spoke with several public school mothers who were adamant that there hasn't been widespread improvement under Duncan's leadership. (Catalyst-Chicago, which provides independent reporting about the city's schools, says some of Duncan's major initiatives haven't had the impact he'd hoped.)
December 3, 2008
On "Colbert Report," cash-for-grades guru hedges his bets
I’ve been taking my head cold to bed long before Stephen Colbert’s Comedy Central show goes on the air, so I was glad…
November 26, 2008
We’re making like the students and taking a Thanksgiving vacation Thursday and Friday. Here are a few morsels to gnaw at when you finish the…
November 13, 2008
Duncan and Kopp, but not Klein, are boosted for Obama Cabinet
Wendy Kopp, the hard-driving founder of Teach For America, and Arne Duncan, the superintendent of schools in Chicago, are being touted as top candidates for U.S. Education Secretary by an influential lobbying group that pushes for aggressive changes in American schools. Their names are included in a 34-page transition memo to President-elect Barack Obama prepared by the group, Democrats for Education Reform, and obtained by GothamSchools. New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has received support from DFER, which is based in Manhattan, but the group's memo specifically rules him out as a possible Education Secretary. The memo says Klein's aggressive efforts to improve public schools are admirable, but that they make him and the like-minded D.C. school chancellor, Michelle Rhee, a poor choice for Barack Obama's White House. "The need for them to occasionally 'break some china' in order to affect much-needed change puts them and other hard-charging reforms like them in an unlikely spot to be selected for a role like Secretary of Education (a role for which either would be well suited)," the memo says.
November 6, 2008
Obama hasn't picked an Ed Sec, but maybe a transition team
The Fordham Foundation's blog, Flypaper, is reporting that President-elect Obama will announce his education transition team either tomorrow or early next week. The blog reports that Clinton administration official Judith Winston would lead the team, which would lay the groundwork for the administration's first moves in education. I spoke to Winston at her office today and she said she couldn't comment. If she is heading up a transition team, the choice suggests that Obama is still side-stepping that little problem of figuring out where to land on the spectrum of policy positions. My understanding is that Winston is someone who knows the bureaucracy well, but not necessarily someone with a strong stance on education policy. Winston was the general counsel to President Clinton's education secretary, Richard Riley, for eight years, and Under Secretary for two of those years. Even if a transition team is named, big decisions like who will run the Education Department will likely not happen immediately. People close to the process tell me that the president-elect has not made a decision on which person to select as Education Secretary. In past transitions, that decision has taken about a month or so to make. In that department, here are the names I'm hearing, including a new surprise that I'll start off with:
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