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Chicago Public Schools CEO and HGSE Visiting Committee Member Arne Duncan Nominated as U.S. Secretary of Education

Statement from Dean Kathleen McCartney

"Arne Duncan is an inspired choice by President-elect Barack Obama for the vital role of Secretary of Education. As the leader of the Chicago Public Schools, America's third-largest urban school district, Arne has launched key initiatives all with a singular aim: improving student performance. He genuinely cares about children, and it shows in everything he does. Many of us at the Harvard Graduate School of Education have been privileged to work with Arne on a number of programs, including the Public Education Leadership Project and the Chicago Principal Leadership Pipeline. As a member of our Visiting Committee, Arne has impressed his fellow committee members as well as the HGSE faculty with his entrepreneurial approach to school reform. Time and time again, Arne has done the hard work necessary to support student achievement, including closing failing schools. As a research-based practitioner, Arne has been willing to invest in early childhood education and other proven practices. I look forward to continuing to work with Arne as he brings his leadership, commitment, and creativity to Washington. Importantly, I have every confidence that he will be effective at bringing a diverse group of education stakeholders to work together in the best interests of students."

Statement from Professor Richard Elmore

"The hallmark of Arne Duncan's leadership in Chicago has been large-scale improvement of teaching and learning, strong support for the learning of adults and students in the schools, and setting strong expectations for quality instruction in the classroom and student learning. His respect for the difficulty of the work that educators face has given him widespread credibility among teachers and administrators in the district. His temperament as a leader is extraordinary; he has the capacity to listen thoughtfully and respectfully to educators and parents alike, to inspire the best work from the people who work with him, and, at the same time, to set a firm direction for the system as a whole. Last year, in the midst of a very successful year for the system in terms of student achievement, more than 20 Chicago Public School students were killed in gun violence. As a tribute to Arne's sense of connection to the community and his deep quest for social justice, he personally led a large demonstration at Soldiers Field in Chicago of educators, parents, students, and community leaders to call for an end to gun violence. For me, this demonstrates the breadth of his commitment not only to the details of what it takes to support educators and students in schools to do their best work, but also to use his leadership position in the community to advance the welfare of students and their families.

"Arne will be a powerful influence in Washington and will set a very different tone than we have had in the recent past. Just his capacity to listen thoughtfully will be a major change. He also brings considerable managerial talent which is deeply needed in the federal bureaucracy. But most importantly he will bring a deep commitment to using the resources of the federal government to support educators in a positive way in the broad agenda of improving teaching and learning. I am told that he also has a lethal inside jumpshot, which should stand him in good stead when he meets the Leader of the Free World on basketball court."


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