Monday, December 15, 2008

Obama's Education Secretary

The New York Times is reporting that President-elect Barack Obama will announce Arne Duncan for Secretary of Education.

Mr. Duncan is a Harvard graduate whose friendship with Mr. Obama began on the basketball court and flowered into frequent discussions of education policy.

He has seven years’ experience as chief executive of the Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school district, where he has earned a solid reputation for confronting pressing issues in public education, like how to raise teacher quality, how to transform weak schools and when to shutter those that are irredeemably failing.
In a related article, the New York Times also reported,
Despite an 18-month campaign for president and many debates, there remains uncertainty about what Mr. Obama believes is the best way to improve education...Mr. Obama has given no hint of his own leanings. (HT: Common Room)
Obama's only leaning was for "change." The media love fest allowed him to succesfully avoid answering exactly what changes he would make.

Update: In October, The Chicago Tribune spotlighted one of Duncan's more controversial recommendations, creating a high school for gay students.
Supporters have said the Pride Campus would help students find a safe school environment because studies have shown that gay youth are at a greater risk of dropping out of school and abusing drugs and alcohol, and are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide. A 2003 district survey shows that gay and lesbian youths are three times more likely to miss school because they don't feel safe.
Duncan also supports the idea of service-learning which is being implemented in the Chicago Public Schools. One service-learning "lesson" sounded more like a Democrat get out the vote campaign using kids for their own gain,
In a U.S. history course, students learned about the Civil Rights movement. Two important components of the Civil Rights movement were the grassroots voter registration, education, and mobilization work done by many activists and the advocacy effort aimed at passing the Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. The class decided to enhance their understanding of voter mobilization by collaborating with Operation Rainbow/PUSH, a national civil rights organi-zation located in Chicago. Operation Rainbow/PUSH provided educational and logistical support to help students develop their own voter turn-out campaign.
If this can be considered service-learning, no wonder Obama wants to make community service a requirement for all students nationwide.

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