Tight with President Obama and with $5 billion at his disposal, Arne Duncan may become the strongest education secretary in history, writes Nia-Malika Henderson for Politico. “Never ever have they had $5 billion to decide what to do in the education system,” says an education advocate. And it’s up to Duncan—a big believer in merit pay for teachers, data systems to track performance, and charter schools to try new strategies—to choose how to dispense that cash to states.
Obama and Duncan have recently taken action with “Race to the Top” funding, which, at $4.35 billion, is “one of the largest single investments in education reform in American history,” Henderson writes. Duncan was considered a “split-the-difference choice,” winning praise from both unions and “get-tough-on teacher reformers.” But some aren’t pleased with Obama and Duncan's direction, suggesting they're too focused on charter schools or lack a “comprehensive” reform plan.