U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced last week that he would step down in December, citing a wish to be closer to his family in Chicago. Duncan is perhaps best known for the Race to the Top initiative, which challenged states to compete for federal grants and led toward a more significant use of test scores in teacher evaluations and a more widespread adoption of Common Core standards. The New York Times calls Duncan “one of the most powerful education secretaries in history” partly due to his close friendship with President Obama, a camaraderie that goes back to Obama’s time as a Chicago senator. “Arne’s done more to bring our educational system, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the 21st century than anyone else,” said President Obama at a news conference on Friday. “It’s a record that I truly believe that no other education secretary can match.” John King Jr., a senior official at the Education Department has been tapped to run the department for the remainder of Obama’s administration, though he will only do so in an acting capacity.
Contributor: Celeste Montaño