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Obama's Cabinet
Education Secretary - Arne Duncan
12.19.08, 04:32 PM CST
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‹‹ Housing and Urban Development - Shaun Donovan Interior Secretary - Ken Salazar ››

Arne Duncan served for seven years as chief executive officer of the Chicago public school system before being tapped by his longtime friend President-elect Barack Obama to become Secretary of Education.

Duncan began his tenure heading Chicago's school system in 2001 when Mayor Richard Daley selected him for the post despite being a relatively unknown education official at the time. Duncan became known as a tough reformer willing to ruffle feathers with both the teachers unions and some communities backing new reforms such as a gay-friendly high school, boarding schools, paying students for high marks, and an agreement with teacher unions for a pay system based on performance.

One notable area in which Duncan was willing to raise controversy was in the closing of struggling city schools. Duncan ordered the closing of certain underperforming city schools and required staff to reapply for their jobs as part of a plan named Renaissance 2010.

During his tenure Duncan succeeded in opening 53 new public schools and saw the city’s graduation rate rise almost six percentage points. The Chicago Public Schools continue to fall behind the Illinois average in state test scores although some scores have increased over the last seven years.

Duncan worked as an advisor on Obama’s education policy team.

‹‹ Housing and Urban Development - Shaun Donovan Interior Secretary - Ken Salazar ››