Arne Duncan joins Obama administration

“Education…is the civil rights issue of our generation. It’s the only path out of poverty, the only road to a more equal, just and fair society…Every child from every background can be successful.”
–Arne Duncan, Senate Confirmation Hearings, January 13, 2009

Sue’s oldest son Arne Duncan was recently sworn in as Secretary of Education, taking the Center’s commitment to excellence in education to Washington D.C.

1977 - Arne holds a basketball with friends from the Center, including Oscar nominee Michael Clarke Duncan (third on top).

Jan. 20, 2009 - President Obama welcomes Arne and his wife, Karen, to the White House.

Following a highly successful tenure as the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, Arne enjoyed a singularly positive confirmation hearing as he joined the administration of President Barack Obama. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) had this to say about Arne: “Over seven and a half years, he’s raised test scores, lowered drop-out rates, boosted college enrollment, opened more than 100 new schools and expanded after-school and Saturday programs…His mother had a center in Hyde Park for inner-city kids, poor kids, to go to, to be tutored. Arne would finish his day in the classroom in his school and then go over to his mother’s center and tutor other kids. That’s how he grew up. That was his after-school activity.”

Arne’s deep commitment to education began with his childhood experiences at the Center. “The most formative [opportunity] was…growing up as a part of my mother’s inner-city tutoring program,” he said at the hearing. “What I saw, literally from the time I was born, was despite challenges at home, despite challenges in the community that are sometimes unimaginable, our young people can be very, very successful.”

1986 - Arne tutors at the Center.

Growing up on the streets of the South Side of Chicago, Arne was no stranger to those “unimaginable challenges.” In his lifetime, the Center has survived a firebombing, death threats, and frequent brushes with gang violence. Those experiences, added to his time as Director of the Ariel Education Initiative (founded by financier John Rogers) and 10 years at CPS, have created an intense motivation to advance education in America.

“We must do dramatically better,” he says. “We must continue to innovate. We must build upon what works. We must stop doing what doesn’t work. And we have to continue to challenge the status quo.”

Read more about Arne Duncan:
Never a teacher, but Duncan’s life work is kids
Photos of Arne

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