Education Secretary Arne Duncan stepping down

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will step down at the end of this year, the Associated Press and the Washington Post reported Friday.

Arne Duncan
Arne Duncan

Duncan, the former chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools and a former professional basketball player, has held his position heading up the U.S. Department of Education since 2009. He was nominated to the position by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in January 2009.

Duncan intends to leave his position in December, at which point U.S. Department of Education senior official John King Jr., will serve as acting secretary of education through the end of Obama’s term, the AP reported. (For more about King, here’s a story from POLITICO New York.)

After the news broke Friday, several Idaho education leaders reacted to the news.

“I wish him the best in his next steps that are ahead for his career and family, and I look forward to working with his replacement, John King,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said in a written statement.

Idaho Education Association President Penni Cyr was attending National Education Association meetings in Washington, D.C., Friday, but released a statement to Idaho Education News: “It is no secret that teachers have not always agreed with the secretary. However, we admire his deep caring for our nation’s children. We wish him well as he leaves public service.”

Idaho Ed News has also reached out to Idaho’s congressional delegation and leaders of the Idaho School Boards Association for comment.

In a statement Friday, former U.S. Secretary of Education and current U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., called Duncan one of Obama’s “best appointments.”

“Arne Duncan was one of the president’s best appointments,” said Alexander, chairman of the Senate’s Health, Education and Labor Pensions Committee. “He has a big heart, cares about children, and I have enjoyed working with him. When we disagree, it is usually because he believes the path to effective teaching, higher standards, and real accountability is through Washington, D.C., and I believe it should be in the hands of states, communities, parents and classroom teachers.”

Check back for more on this developing story.