Making significant reforms and positive changes in the American public school education system, Arne Duncan, the 9th United States’ Secretary of Education, is one of the most progressive administrators, today. During his tenure, he made many substantial contributions in the field of education, which brought about many positive improvements in the lives of American students and teachers. He offered his support to President Barack Obama’s goal of producing the highest number of college graduates. He brought about reforms to ensure that colleges and universities provide job placements and student loans at default rates. He has raised education standards, improved teaching quality and has also increased the number of scholarships being granted to students. Before he assumed office as the United States’ Secretary of Education, he was the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools and became longest-serving education superintendent in the United States of America. As a CEO, Duncan introduced various education initiatives, closed down under-performing schools, expanded after school and summer learning programs. These efforts had tremendous impact on the academic scenario and helped improve the student performance considerably.
Childhood & Early Life
Arne Duncan was born in Chicago, Illinois to Starkey Davis Duncan, Jr, a psychology professor and Susan Goodrich Morton, who ran the Sue Duncan Children's Center, a programme for the African-American youth.
He grew up in the neighborhood of Hyde Park, Chicago, where he attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. He also spent time playing with students at his mother’s tutoring center.
In 1987, he graduated from the Harvard University as a ‘magna cum laude’ with a degree in sociology. In University, he co-captioned the varsity basketball team and was offered ‘Academic All-American’.
From 1987 to 1991, he played professional basketball in Australia for several prominent teams.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
In 1992, he became the director of the Ariel Education Initiative, which was introduced to guide, provide opportunities and support children belonging to deprived communities.
In 1996, along with his colleague and friend John W. Rogers, Jr., founded the Ariel Community Academy, a grammar school in Chicago. They jointly supported and funded the school.
In 1998, he worked with the Chicago public school system, which is the third largest school district in the country. There, he also served as the head of the school systems ‘magnet programme’.
In 1999, he became the Deputy Chief of Staff and worked for Paul Vallas, the former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools and the School District of Philadelphia.
From June 2001 to 2008, he served the post of Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools. He was appointed to serve this post by Mayor, Richard M. Daley.
In 2008, he introduced an innovative incentive program in over twenty schools in Chicago, as per which students were to be awarded a monetary amount for good grades.
On January 20, 2009, President Barack Obama appointed him as the U.S. Secretary of Education. He soon introduced the ‘Race to the Top’ competition, which was an initiative to encourage innovation in the education system.
Awards & Achievements
He was elected as a fellow into the Leadership Greater Chicago's class of 1995. In 2002, he became a member of the Aspen Institute's Henry Crown Fellowship Program.
In 2006, he was conferred the title of ‘Citizen of the Year’, which was bestowed upon him by the City Club of Chicago.
In 2007, he was the recipient of the Niagara Foundation's Education Award and the same year, he was honoured with the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship Enterprising Educator Award and the University High School Distinguished Alumni Award.
In 2008, the Civic Federation of Chicago and the Anti-Defamation League honoured him for his dedicated commitment and services towards the betterment of the Chicago Public School system.
He has been conferred honorary degrees from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Lake Forest College and National-Lewis University.
Personal Life & Legacy
He met his wife Karen Luann in Australia. She was a physical education teacher and a high school coach in Australia.
He lives with his wife Karen in Arlington, Virginia. The couple have two children, Claire and Ryan, who attend the public elementary school in Arlington.
In order to discourage dropouts , this United States’ Secretary of Education, made dropouts sign forms that had statements like, ‘I will not be able to afford many things that I will see others acquiring’ or ‘I will be less likely to find good jobs that pay well, bad jobs that don't pay well, or maybe any jobs’.