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New education secretary promises radical reforms

on Tuesday,January 27,2009 22:01

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President Obama''s newly confirmed education secretary comes with an impressive resume and will be charged with a daunting task.

Arne Duncan is expected to conduct sweeping reforms of American education, something Obama strongly emphasized during his recent campaign.

He has a record of successfully reforming one of the toughest school districts in the country when he served as the Chicago public schools'' chief executive from 2001-2009.

During his confirmation hearing, Duncan listed such priorities as expanding the ranks of quality teachers, support for charter schools, as well as broadening access to colleges and universities and making them more affordable, according to the Washington Post.

Responding to the latter goal, Cynthia Brown, director of education policy at the Center for American Progress, warned that Duncan''s biggest challenge will be student financial aid, but expressed confidence in his commitment to disadvantaged students, according to diverseeducation.com.

Others have voiced concerns about Duncan''s lack of experience with higher education. While he sits on several higher education boards, he has never taught at that level and has little policy experience.

However, the website quotes Maureen Gillette, dean of the College of Education at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, as saying that based on her Chicago experience "he will be willing to work with all of us to achieve his goals."

Duncan''s confirmation comes as Congress begins a debate over the size and scope of more than $120 billion in proposed emergency education aid.
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