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Obama Names Arne Duncan Next Education Secretary

Duncan has called for doubling NCLB funding and adding more flexibility into the law

WASHINGTON - December 15, 2008 -

President-elect Barack Obama has named Arne Duncan, the superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, as the next secretary of education according to reports by The New York Times and Washington Post Monday night. Duncan has called for doubling funding for No Child Left Behind, and tempering the law’s teach-to-the-test rigidity with more flexibility.

“This could be the beginning of a promising new period for public education in this country,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Arne Duncan has said before Congress that funding for NCLB should be doubled within five years, and that the law must be amended to give schools the maximum amount of flexibility possible. For too long, federal education policy has been about teaching to the test, and Duncan could use his new position to move beyond those failed policies, and provide every child with 21st century skills.”

In Chicago, Duncan set his sights on reducing the dropout rate, reducing school violence and creating successful new schools.  His efforts have shown his commitment to quality public schools, Van Roekel said, and willingness to make decisive, bold changes.

"We applaud President-Elect Obama's choice of Arne Duncan to be the next Secretary of Education,” said Jo Anderson, Executive Director of the Illinois Education Association. “In IEA-NEA, we have worked collaboratively with Arne Duncan on a number of ways to improve all Illinois public schools, including increased funding. In our experience, Arne Duncan is committed to working with others including the unions to promote excellence and equity in public education."

Duncan will inherit significant baggage from the failed policies of the Bush administration. NCLB is underfunded by $71 billion, and in economic downturns, school funding suffers.

“This is a challenging time for President Obama and for Secretary Duncan,” Van Roekel said. “We look forward to working together, along with parents and community leaders, to create great public schools for every student.”


The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

Contact: Will Potter   (202) 822-7823