By Robin Ye
About a month ago, Arne Duncan announced he’s stepping down in December. The outgoing Secretary of Education served 6.5+ years, making him the longest tenured education secretary, and second-longest in Obama’s cabinet, only outdone by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Duncan has also been considered the most powerful Secretary of Education in the department’s history.
Meet his successor, John B. King Jr., the current deputy education secretary. An incredible story. His policies are very much in line with Arne Duncan, which means they will be heavily criticized.
Already, Arne Duncan’s legacy is being re-defined. The federal government is scaling back on the testing requirements Secretary Duncan has been championing. There is agreement on both the left and the right that testing has run rampant. Conservatives dislike it in part because of federal overreach, regulation, and the one-size fits all approach to education. Liberals and unions dislike it in part because of the ties between testing and teacher performance. (One might think Duncan is being pushed out because of performance…but then one has to think why his deputy would simply be elevated if that was the case).
Washington Post writer Lindsey Layton wrote what some said was an article too “sympathetic.” Simultaneously, THE Diane Ravitch, a critical but important education voice in the foray for education reform, lambasted Arne Duncan. And Patricia MacGuire, President of Trinity Washington University, gives a perspective from higher-education; a decently balanced piece.
John Merrow, a longtime observer of American education, wrote about Duncan’s legacy on the Merrow Report. Meanwhile, the American Enterprise Institute argues that, when it comes to Duncan’s legacy, “the bad outweighs the good.”