Obama on Arne Duncan: ‘America is going to be better off for what he has done’

Here are President Obama’s remarks today about the resignation of his good friend and Education Secretary Arne Duncan:

Arne Duncan is one of my longest-serving Cabinet Secretaries, and he’s been a friend for a lot longer than that. So it’s with some regret and sorrow that I’ve accepted his decision to return to our hometown of Chicago. After more than six years of living in Washington, Arne’s wonderful wife, Karen, and their excellent kids, Claire and Ryan — who are also buddies of mine — wanted to move back home.  And that’s meant in the interim a lot of time apart.

President Barack Obama, right, reacts to remarks by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, during an announcement in which Duncan said he will be stepping down in December after 7 years in the Obama administration. Duncan will be returning to Chicago and Obama has appointed senior Education Department official, John King Jr., left, to oversee the Education Department. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Barack Obama reacts to remarks by Education Secretary Arne Duncan in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, today during an announcement in which Duncan said he will be stepping down in December after 7 years in the Obama administration. Duncan will be returning to Chicago and Obama has appointed senior Education Department official, John King Jr., left, to oversee the Education Department. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

So I’ll be honest — I pushed Arne to stay.  Sorry, guys.  But I also know from personal experience how hard it is to be away from your family on a sustained basis.  So while I will miss Arne deeply, he’s more than earned the right to return home.

Take a look at what Arne has accomplished over the last six and a half years. He’s one of the longest-serving Secretaries of Education in our history — and one of the more consequential. In just a few years, Arne and his team have delivered some incredible results at every stage of the educational experience. More than 30 states have upped their investment in early childhood education.

Nearly every state in America has raised standards for teaching and learning, and expectations for what our kids can learn, and our high school graduation rate is at an all-time high. We’ve helped millions more families afford college, and more Americans are graduating from college than ever before.  And that’s just scratching the surface.

Arne has done more to bring our educational system — sometimes kicking and screaming — into the 21st century than anybody else.  America is going to be better off for what he has done.  It’s going to be more competitive and more prosperous.  It is going to be more equal and more upwardly mobile.  It’s a record that I truly believe no other Education Secretary can match.  Arne bleeds this stuff.  He cares so much about our kids. And he’s been so passionate about this work.  And everybody who interacts with him, including people who disagree with him on some issues, never questions the genuineness and heart that he has brought to this job.

So I couldn’t be prouder of him.  And, for good measure, Arne also holds the record for most points scored in an NBA All-Star game. And he is my favorite partner in pickup basketball — the smartest player I know — even though he’s very slow — — and has no hops.  He knows it’s true. I will say, watching Ryan, by the way, that the son will soon be surpassing the father because this young man has got game.

Now, keep in mind, none of this change has been easy, and we still have a long way to go.  One of the things about education is that it doesn’t deliver results tomorrow or the next day; this is a decade-long or longer proposition. We plant seeds now; we make changes now; and we watch each successive class benefit from these reforms. And it goes in fits and starts, and we have a decentralized system — that’s how our education tradition evolved. So it’s not easy and it’s not quick, but we are making progress. And we’re not going to stop in these last 15 months.

And that’s why it’s so important and why I think we’re very lucky that, even as Arne steps down, we’ve got an exceptionally talented educator to step in — and that is Dr. John King.

John is already on Arne’s leadership team. He’s been an educator all his life — a teacher, a principal, a leader of schools, the New York State’s education chief.  He’s the right man to lead the department.  He shares our commitment to preparing every child for success in a more innovative and competitive world.  He’s got a great team already at the Department of Education of which I am very, very proud.

Reader Comments 0

43 comments
jerryeads
jerryeads

Arne might put his kids in any number of the publics AROUND DC, but few would put their kids in the DC schools given the choice. Both before and after Rhee got done with them DC makes APS look like Paideia in comparison - and Meria, as she notes in today's paper, has a LOT of work to do.

Arne indeed did a lot for the nation's schools. Many of those who actually know something about teaching, however, would argue little of it was actually GOOD. John is an, um, interesting choice. It says a lot about Obama picking him in that John was run out of New York on a rail. Teachers HATED him. That said, he talks a good game and my impression has been that unlike Arne he actually has a clue. Is what it is, we'll hope for some good to come of it.

1Robert
1Robert

Arne has done more to bring our educational system — sometimes kicking and screaming — into the 21st century than anybody else."


Arne must have forgotten about Atlanta, the only thing kicking and screaming are teachers as they are hauled off to jail.

EastAtlanta
EastAtlanta

In my estimation the U. S. Department of Efucation has done more to harm education in this country than to help it. It is a monstrosity of a bureaucracy that doed little more than generate paperwork.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Infraredguy @EastAtlanta


I haven't looked it up, but did they have anything to do with letting children with disabilities attend public school and get appropriate services?

luludog
luludog

@EdJohnson @MaryElizabethSings 

Bravo to Ed Johnson for his link to Dianne Ravitch's comments about Arne Duncan. And Mary Elizabeth, I agree with you almost always but the fact is that there are too many Democratic elected officials who go along with this privatization-for-profit of our traditional public schools movement and they need to be called out for it.  Not the least of these have been Senator Corey Booker, Arne Duncan, President Obama and Goldman Sachs alumnus Rahm Emanuel, now Mayor of Chicago, who has closed 50 black public schools in Chicago and promoted charterization. The corporatization of public schools is not the answer. Big business does not always know what's best for us. The recent devastating financial crisis engineered by the big bankers from Goldman, Sachs and Citigroup, among many others, made that clear. Yet President Obama appointed Emanuel from Goldman and William Daley from Citigroup has his chiefs of staff at different times.

Mustang100
Mustang100

The Department behind the APS scandal: make sure you meet our grading criteria and we'll write you a nice check.

class80olddog
class80olddog

So tell me ONE THING that the FEDERAL Education Department SHOULD do? They do just what the Feds always do - they influence states by dangling money at  them.  They may not have invented CC but they sure took it over and made it a requirement for Federal money.  If they REALLY wanted to help education, they would take their money and fully fund IDEA.

class80olddog
class80olddog

" our high school graduation rate is at an all-time high"


Which in Georgia we have accomplished by grade inflation, removing the GHSGT, and even giving diplomas to those who failed the test previously.

class80olddog
class80olddog

"Nearly every state in America has raised standards for teaching and learning"


Of course they don't enforce those standards, so they are meaningless.  What if our company set a "standard" of so much listeria bacteria in our peanut butter, but then when it exceeded those standards, just passed it along into the marketplace?  That is what traditional schools are doing.

An American Patriot
An American Patriot

Arne Duncan has singlehandedly destroyed public education in America.  Good Riddance.  This is something I have been looking forward to for several years.  

ByteMe
ByteMe

@An American Patriot So simple for a keyboard jockey to write.  Do let us know what you've done for education in this country the past eight years... except whine.

Skeetercat
Skeetercat

ByteMe - .....tells us "what have you done for education at all?"  Are you in the trenches everyday with these students... getting slammed by all sides (e.g., parents, administrators, politicians, students, media,  hateful bloggers)... because you can't turn water into wine?  You are welcome to take over my high school classes for one week.  By the way....I worked in the private sector (business) for 20 years.  Teaching is the hardest and most unappreciated job I have ever had.


An American Patriot
An American Patriot

@ByteMe @An American Patriot One day soon, the Federal DOE will no longer exist and all Public School Systems in America will revert back to STATE CONTROL.   Then you will be able to see the damage that Arne Duncan has inflicted on American Education.  Like a sheep, he has done exactly what his boss, bhusseino ordered and that was to "keep 'em dumb" so they'll be unable to get a job and will become dependents of the democratic party and will vote the way we want them to.


As to what I've done for public education.....I don't work in that profession, as a matter of fact "I don't work, period; however, I do pay a goodly amount of ad valorem taxes each year to support my city's school system and it's one of the best in the state  AND  I DON'T WHINE!!      ByteMe

GATOTY78
GATOTY78

Sec Duncan never attended a public k-12 school growing up--- he went to private college and was a pro basketball player in Europe before coming back to the USA where he  was given the administrative post in Chicago's public schools. He never taught in a public school, was never a principal in a public school,  yet he has the the top Education in the country-- but in looking back we have never had at Sec of Education that has ever been a public k-12 teacher or administrator---  guess they all stayed in a Holiday Inn Express!!!!!

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Maybe Duncan can help Rob Emamual do something about Chicago's murder rate  WAIT that's mostly in the Black community so it's not a problem

Tcope
Tcope

Why does the federal government have an army of education bureaucrats in DC making huge salaries?

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@EdJohnson

The factors brought out in your link by Diane Ravitch, above, are the same ones of which I have had my qualifications toward the President's and Arne Duncan's educational agenda.  However, from many sources, and from hearing the words from President Obama, himself, I believe that they have distinguished true public education from business-run education. 

I do not know what is needed in places like Chicago to help those children and their communities because I have never lived in many places so that I could support charter schools, which are well- monitored and coordinated in certain locales if they receive all children, not just on paper but in fact.

Moreover, I believe in a strong federal Department of Education, as do Obama and Duncan.  I believe they see the value of teachers and are not so polarized against teachers in unions as some are.  And, I believe that overall their educational agenda, thus far, has lifted public education in America and that it will have long-lasting positive benefits.  It may need to be adjusted to more of an educational model, as time goes on, and that is why I speak out.  However, I try to think in degrees, not in dichotomies whenever and wherever possible.

One can see that Arne Duncan is exhausted. President Obama said yesterday that he had pleaded with Arne Duncan a year ago to stay on as his Secy. of Education, after Duncan's family decided to move back to their roots in Chicago, a year and a half ago, which Duncan did.  Duncan, however, does not now look as if he has the strength to carry on for another year so I can see why he has made his decision.  But, that kind of commitment to education must be admired, in both of these leaders.  President Obama knows that a great education changed his life and that of his wife.

I am glad, however, that you shared your link, Ed, because we must be ever vigilant to keep public education a service to the public and not a money-making machine for mercenaries and opportunists.

MD3
MD3

From everything I've read, Duncan has been all about accountability for public schools, which is a good thing... but he also seems to believe that lots and lots of tax dollars need to be thrown at charter schools with virtually no oversight or accountability whatsoever. Apparently what's good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander. In the long run his only real legacy will be making testing corporations very, very rich. The fact that this president has supported him so blindly will be a blight on his legacy as president as well.

RickinWarnerRobins
RickinWarnerRobins

@MD3 Just one of thousands of blights on his legacy...actually, his presidency is just one big blight.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

"One of the things about education is that it doesn’t deliver results tomorrow or the next day; this is a decade-long or longer proposition. We plant seeds now; we make changes now; and we watch each successive class benefit from these reforms."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

President Obama understands the long vision for public education.  Although I have not supported every aspect of President Obama's educational policy and that of Secretary Duncan (I keep sharing the need for placing every student on his own instructional level and moving at his own pace.), I do believe that there will be long-ranged improvement in American education because of his and Arne Duncan's visceral commitment to an excellent education for all of America's children. I believe, as they both do, that an excellent education is the way forward for those who are disadvantaged, especially. Either President Obama or Secretary Duncan also spoke of supporting teachers, and working with them to build a 21st century educational model for Americans, which will last.


Astropig
Astropig

John King was a charter school principal and charter school operator. Reading the lines (and between them) in the president's statement,the administration and the status quo eduacracy are at war. 


Pop some corn reformers, this is going to be fun to watch.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Astropig


It is already "fun" to watch.  John King was a charter school operator, yes.  So already there are the expected backlash from online posters about him being a "conservative" reformer who is destined to sell out the public schools.  On the other hand, he is also a strong supporter of the Common Core, so there are already the expected backlash from online posters about him being a "liberal" determined to indoctrinate our children.


It would be hilarious if it wasn't so sad.  People cannot even think for themselves anymore.  If someone is against something they are for, then that person must automatically fall into the "enemy" camp politically. And what do they do when someone holds positions that tend to fall on both sides of this faux divide of the American people which has been so beneficial to those in charge?  They carry on as usually and do not even seem to notice the discrepancy.  


*sigh*

Astropig
Astropig

@Quidocetdiscit @Astropig


You didn't really make a point. Just another long winded,hate filled condescending post to hear (see) yourself bloviate. Hard to get your point when you don't make one.

Astropig
Astropig

@Skeetercat @Astropig


Yep- It's spreading so well that charter schools have over a million (and counting) students on waiting lists. It spreading so well that over 60% of the public wants more school choice options.It's working like gangbusters.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @Quidocetdiscit


Astro is 100% Staus Quo "Astatus Puerco" - no deviation from hating on public school - no thoughtful analysis- nothing new, about 4 posts over and over again- really nothing of substance to reply to - Astatus Puerco is like mud on your shoe - an occasional, inevitable, unpleasant event that is pretty much the same each time.


Now watch AstroPopDogKtr get in a tizzy about my grammar and mega-hyphens.



Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Astropig @Quidocetdiscit


" Just another long winded,hate filled condescending post to hear (see) yourself bloviate."


LOL!  Really?  THAT is what you got out of my post?


Sheesh.

Skeetercat
Skeetercat

@Astropig @Skeetercat Of course you failed to mention the charter schools that are closing their doors because they can hold on to their teaching staffs.  Teachers are fleeing in droves.


popcornular
popcornular

Now we add the Angry White Teacher to the landscape. 

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

@Skeetercat @Astropig


Don't expect the pig to be rational and state any facts......he supports the republican line very mindlessly! He hasn't had an original thought about education and will never! All he understands is that he Bumps his head under Deals desk every morning

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@popcornular


I swear. it seems as though some of youl do not even read the posts to which you are responding.  You just post general attacks based upon the names of the posters.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

"One of the things about education is that it doesn’t deliver results tomorrow or the next day; this is a decade-long or longer proposition. We plant seeds now; we make changes now; and we watch each successive class benefit from these reforms.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

President Obama understands the long vision for public education.  Although I have not supported every aspect of President Obama's educational policy and that of Secy. Duncan (I keep sharing the need for placing every student on his own instructional level and moving at his own pace.), I do believe that there will be long-ranged improvement in American education because of his and Arne Duncan visceral commitment to an excellent education for all of America's children, and that is the way forward for those who are disadvantaged.  He or Duncan spoke of supporting teachers, yet working with them to build a 21st century educational model for Americans, which will last.