I have to admit that I'm shooting from the hip a little bit with today's post because I don't really know all that much about Arne Duncan, Obama's pick for Secretary of Education. I've read a couple of things about him (not all positive) and have to say that I'm pretty happy with this pick.
It seems like right now a lot of people aren't sure entirely what to make of the choice. After all, ths guy is supported by both Randi Weingarten and Joel Klein. When faced with two petitions for Obama over the summer - one pushing the idealocrat get-tough approach and the other pushing the broader, bolder approach - Duncan signed both. Some are going to see this as a sign of wishy washiness or political opportunism. I see it as an indication that he doesn't view this debate as an either/or. In this sense, he could be the anti-Michelle Rhee, which may be the best thing to happen to the education debate in a long time.
Let's assume the best about Duncan and say that his straddling of the middle is because there are ideas of merit on both sides of the issue and that he recognizes that one side is not totally right and acting in good faith while the other side is trying to ruin the lives of millions of children. He would be absolutely right. There is no one silver bullet that will solve all of the educational problems in America. Anyone who honestly looks at the situation can see that.
The Times article says, "[Duncan] argued that the nation’s schools needed to be held accountable for student progress, but also needed major new investments, new talent and new teacher-training efforts." Obama could do a lot worse than to have someone with that attitude working for him.