So I guess Arne really was good at his job…

December 16, 2008 at 12:56 am Leave a comment

Wow, so the news is out today.  Arne Duncan, the CEO of the Chicago Public School system is headed to DC to be the new Secretary of Education.  Of course my first thought has to be “how will that affect us?”  For those who had inklings that he was doing something good here in Chicago, I guess the selection by Obama confirms that he’s impressing people at the highest level possible.  It also makes me realize the benefit of sending your child to Harvard – they get to play basketball with future presidents.

I had the thrill of meeting Arne last year.   For lunch.  My fellow school-obsessed friend had purchased the lunch as part of a school auction and was on a mission to beg for extra funding for our neighborhood school.  My significant-other advised me not to go, worrying that I would “get up on my soap-box” at some point during the lunch.  Which at that point was actually pretty likely except for the fact that I would need to keep my ever-complaining mouth shut so as not to ruin our chance at begging for money.

In the end, the meeting was one of the highlights of my school-obsessed era.  In addition to being totally down-to-earth and just plain nice, I couldn’t help but marvel at how much it seemed like he “got” the issues that parents have about our beloved school system.  He ranted about the lack of funding and talked about how he was trying to get other superintendants to rally together to protest for more money.  Nearly everything he said made we want to say “I KNOW!  That is SOOO true!” like a giggling school girl.  In some way he felt like my education soul mate.   He got why nobody want big class sizes.  He expressed the opinion about a certain “turn-around” school focusing more on their building and less on academics (I know! That IS so true Arne!  I think that too!)  He truly had a great appreciation for the parents who are making school improvement their personal mission.    It was like having a great conversation about education, but the person you’re talking to isn’t just some random parent you run into who is willing to listen to your daily rant, but someone who can actually affect things.  In a big way.  Or theoretically.  I also got the feeling that there were politics or bureacracy or something else here in Chicago that were preventing him from fulfilling all his ideas.

But now – there’s no stopping him.  I cannot wait to see what happens in this country with Arne at the top of our education system.   But again, I come back to “what about us?”

UPDATE: For all you Arne fans out there, here are a couple good articles about his appointment.   If you haven’t read the book Freakonomics, I highly recommend it.  There is a lot about CPS in there.

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/nobody-better-than-arne-duncan/?scp=4&sq=arne%20duncan&st=cse

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/us/politics/16educ.html?scp=3&sq=arne%20duncan&st=cse

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Entry filed under: CPS. Tags: , , .

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