Obama chose Arne Duncan as U.S. Secretary of Education

altArne Duncan, CEO of Chicago Schools, was chosen by the new president Barack Obama for the post of U.S. Secretary of Education.

Mr. Duncan is also known thanks to the number of his exemplary schools, like the Dodge Renaissance Academy where he was tapped at. We want to remind to you that the academy was the first from the list of failing schools that Mr. Duncan closed and then reopened achieving the success in such way. In connection with his new job he must also leave one of the most powerful, proud and increasing group of Chicago where he will be remembered as the person who tried to embody an experimental program concerning the closing of failing schools and the following replacement of them with 100 reorganized and new ones. 

Duncan stumbled while launching the program, dubbed Renaissance 2010. As he closed failing schools, students were dispersed temporarily to other schools for a year or more, stigmatizing many of those kids and leading to a spike in violence at some receiving high schools. Parents, advocates and kids rightly complained and, ultimately, Duncan took heed.

Now the transformation occurs over the summer. Kids return to the same school building in the fall but the rest is new -- most of the teachers and other adults, the curriculum and support programs.

We respect Duncan for sticking to his guns: he is passionate about fixing chronically failing schools, and he wouldn\'t retreat. But he also listened and made adjustments. Time will tell whether Renaissance 2010 is a success, though early results look promising.

Those qualities -- vision and compromise -- will serve Duncan well as education secretary.

He is not an ideologue fueled by a belief that there is one single answer to fixing urban schools. Under Renaissance 2010, he has approved a broad range of schools, including an all-boys school, a school based on a Roman Catholic model and a virtual school.

But Duncan is not flighty. His choices are all guided by a single goal: systematically improving what goes in the classroom.

During his seven-year tenure, Duncan has tightly focused on improving teaching and learning -- from recruiting higher-quality teachers to dispatching reading specialists across Chicago to overhauling high school curricula. He has also made a strong push to help kids graduate and get to college.

Duncan always took a pass on the education fad of the day, choosing instead to invest in long-term approaches supported by solid research.

Duncan has a big job ahead of him. Too many of the nation\'s schools are still woefully subpar, and a fight over President Bush\'s signature No Child Left Behind law looms. 

But Duncan earned his stripes in Chicago.

The nation will be lucky to have him.