Yesterday, Arne Duncan assumed his official position as part of President Obama’s cabinet as Congress approved him for Secretary of Education. “Mr. Duncan, there is no question that schools across America can benefit from the same kind of fresh thinking that you have brought to the Chicago public schools,” said Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, as he instroduced Duncan to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
During the confirmation hearing Duncan announced “We must do better.”
We’ve yet to see an official plan for his tenure, but he has made it clear that priorities include merit-based pay for teachers and more robust pre-k programs. He also shared three goals with the Committee:
“First, that every child from every background absolutely can be successful. Rural, suburban, urban, gifted, special ed., ELL, poor, minority — it simply doesn’t matter. When we… as adults, do our job and we give them opportunities to succeed, all of [our] children can be extraordinarily successful.
Secondly, maybe the flip of that, when we fail to properly educate children, we as educators, we perpetuate poverty and we perpetuate social failure. And that’s not something that I want to be a part of.
And third, our children have one chance — one chance at a quality education, so that we must work with an extraordinary sense of urgency. Simply put, we cannot wait because they cannot wait.”
He’s also poised to give serious consideration to No Child Left Behind, which comes before Congress for renewal this year.