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Suggested Questions for Arne Duncan

By Ed O'Keefe

Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan hopes to serve as the nation's next education secretary, but first he has to win the approval of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He's never been a teacher or principal, but has won positive reviews for his reform of the Windy City's education system.

Arne Duncan

Next to the nominees for secretary of defense and state, it seems Duncan has received plenty of unsolicited advice, much of it published in The Post. A sampling:

"Many in Washington will judge you on your popularity with adults. If some adults are made uncomfortable by your policies, so be it. The needs of children must come first," writes the current education secretary, Margaret Spellings, in today's Post.

"I'd like to see him move on some of the changes proposed in the Broader Bolder Manifesto for instance, making routine vision, hearing, and dental checks available where they are most needed," writes education psychologist Gerald Bracey. (Washingtonpost.com has compiled several essays with suggestions for Duncan. Read them here.)

The General Accountability Office recently offered lawmakers some advice on the key managerial challenges Obama's cabinet nominees. It suggests that Duncan and the Department of Education need to improve student achievement at elementary and secondary schools, improve oversight of federal student aid programs and ensure access to federal student loans.

GAO recommends several questions that lawmakers should ask Duncan (posted after the jump). Leave your suggested questions in the comments section below.

• How would your management experience, skills, and abilities help the department assist states in raising student achievement?

Department of Education

• Can you talk about any prior efforts you have undertaken to improve the quality of program management data? What challenges did you face, and how did you address them? What tools do you think you would be prepared to use to improve the quality of education achievement data reported by states?

• What experience, if any, do you have with monitoring and other internal controls over financial transactions that might prepare you to ensure that the Department of Education is effectively monitoring schools and lenders to identify and address improper lending activities?

• GAO has reported that the Office of Federal Student Aid has had weak management controls and difficulty accounting for the cost of one of its capital improvement programs. What is your familiarity with management and cost controls? Can you describe how you have used management controls to improve transparency or accountability?

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By Ed O'Keefe  | January 13, 2009; 6:55 AM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Confirmation Hearings, Congress  
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Next: Eye Opener: Jan. 13, 2009

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