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Posted at 9:13 AM ET, 11/ 5/2010

Who’s NOT on Forbes powerful people list -- but should be

By Valerie Strauss

Go down the Forbes magazine list of the 68 most powerful people in the world and you will find presidents, kings, prime ministers, chancellors, a supreme leader (of North Korea), Pope Benedict XVI (No. 5) and the Dalai Lama (No. 39), business titans, bankers.

The chief of staff of Pakistan’s Army is on the list (N0. 29), as is China’s propaganda chief (No. 32); Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (No. 40); the chairman of Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (No. 43); New York Times executive editor Bill Keller (No. 50); drug trafficker Joaquin Guzman Loera (No. 60); media personality Oprah Winfrey (No. 64).

Forbes editors named as the most powerful person in the world Chinese President Hu Jintao, with President Obama in second place, underscoring the rise of the Chinese economy.

But nowhere on the list will you find an educator or someone whose day job is in education policy.

That might tell you something about the true status of education around the world, though it may tell you more about the sensibilities of the Forbes editors, who passed over Education Secretary Arne Duncan, but shouldn’t have.

Forbes says it picked “68 who matter” because “in various ways, they bend the world to their will.”

Well, Duncan is said by some to be the most powerful education secretary in U.S. history, the steward of the country’s most important civic institution.

* There are about 50 million public schools student in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
* Total expenditures are about $475 billion annually.
* Public education has long been seen as the key to success in the United States, * Duncan has been leading a reform program that is/will (whether we like it or not) affect every public school classroom in the country.

That sounds pretty powerful to me.

Maybe even more powerful than No. 65 on the Forbes list, Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, president of the International Federation of Association Football.

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By Valerie Strauss  | November 5, 2010; 9:13 AM ET
Categories:  Education Secretary Duncan  | Tags:  arne duncan, china president, dalai lama, forbes, forbes magazine, hu jintao, jintao, mark zuckerberg, oprah, oprah winfrey, pope benedict, powerful people list, president obama  
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Valerie, thanks for making a good point on education's vast influence in American culture and the world. Too bad Arne Duncan doesn't use good research and fact-based positions to drive his agenda.

The list says that mostly big-money rules the world with a few political leaders thrown in. I knew the Koch brothers would make it, especially after financing the Tea Party rallies (so much for "grass-roots" organizing!)

One major person missing from the list is our very own Karl Rove. How many years has he worked behind the scenes, oh, so viciously and effectively. Obviously, he wants to keep it that way to maintain his influence.

How about our own list of powerful people in American education? Instead of the usual heads like Arne Duncan and Randi Weingarten, how about some regular, old public school classroom teachers? The influence on children for the . But it doesn't make fodder for the media. Let's fight that!

Posted by: 1bnthrdntht | November 5, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Oops. Lost the part about influence on children lasts for a lifetime in many, unknown ways.

Posted by: 1bnthrdntht | November 5, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Arne Duncan should be spending American money on behavioral interventions for students who disrupt the classroom, not weatlhy test score manufacterers.

Posted by: jlp19 | November 5, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

You missed Bill Gates- doing more for education than Arne Duncan, who is fundamentally a bureaucrat doling out money in exchange for power.

Maybe we'll see Sal Khan on such a list in a few years. He's a better teacher than most, and with an amazing reach that extends beyond that of most in education.

Posted by: staticvars | November 6, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

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