Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

Education Secretary Duncan stepping down

By Caitlin Emma , Allie Grasgreen Ciaramella, and Kimberly Hefling, Politico

10/02/15 03:58 PM EDT

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, an unwavering advocate for low-income and minority students and longtime basketball buddy to President Barack Obama, said Friday he will leave his post in December, ending a contentious tenure in which he moved aggressively to raise the academic bar in U.S. schools.

Duncan, the former Chicago schools head who is one of the last remaining original Cabinet members, has clashed with most camps in the education community since taking the post. He’s supported charter schools, encouraged the use of testing to measure teachers and schools, and championed the divisive Common Core standards. He’s also taken on the higher education establishment by pushing policies to regulate for-profit colleges and make colleges and universities more transparent.

His announcement comes as Congress is the closest it’s been in years to the long-overdue updating of the No Child Left Behind law – something that could be a crucial part of his legacy. His term might also be remembered for his embrace of Race to the Top grants that incentivized many of the controversial ideas he’s long embraced.

Just this week, Duncan said he thought the forthcoming resignation of House Speaker John Boehner would make it more difficult to get the law updated. Before Boehner’s announcement, the odds were “50/50,” Duncan said. “I can only think that our odds of having it pass now are worse, not better, which is really disappointing,” he said.

Former Duncan aide Justin Hamilton said Duncan likely knew in “his heart of hearts that Boehner was a guy who wanted the deal. … The prospects for getting anything done have gone from 50/50 to a snowball’s chance in hell.”

But otherwise, Duncan had “accomplished everything the administration set out to do and he should be proud,” Hamilton said.

“Everything the Administration set out to do.”  Indeed.  Don’t let the door hit you.

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