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Gold Star: Arne Duncan

By Ed O'Keefe

Education Secretary Arne Duncan. (Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/Post)

"I can't emphasize strongly enough how important it is for states and districts to think very creatively and to think very differently about how they use this first set of money."

Education Secretary Arne Duncan made those comments Wednesday in describing the Race to the Top Fund, "an unprecedented pot of cash created by the stimulus law that extends Washington's reach into local school affairs," according to The Post.

"No other education secretary has controlled such a fund," writes Post national education reporter Maria Glod. "Duncan said he will dole out the money based in part on how states and school systems spend tens of billions of dollars in other stimulus funding intended to prevent layoffs and program cuts and help educate children who live in poverty or have disabilities."

Despite his new pot of money, Duncan earns this week's Gold Star because he's spent most of the week actively pitching the president's economic stimulus package and its anticipated education benefits. He did it during the session described above by Maria and on Thursday during a USA Today forum, where he defended the administration's plans against the objections of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R). The secretary also took his sales pitch to New Orleans for a meeting with science educators and showed up on a Rolling Stone magazine list of the "100 People Changing America." He ranks 98th, ahead of singer Taylor Swift and a neurologist.

The magazine acknowledges that Duncan faces a tough fight with politically powerful teachers unions over the administration's proposals to match pay to classroom performance. The Eye does not know enough about that often-contentious policy debate, but remembers what his more seasoned colleagues have always said: that in order to advance your agenda in Washington, you need the right mix of personal connections and budgetary control. Duncan has both: He's got the full confidence of President Obama and he shares the president's love of basketball and Chicago. Combine those personal ties with his new big pot of money, and it's fair to say Duncan could emerge as the most powerful, influential secretary in the department's 29-year history.

Agree or disagree with this week's Gold Star winner? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | March 27, 2009; 10:26 AM ET
Categories:  Gold Star  
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There are thousands of children who live in the same poverty faced by their parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Education is the first big step in breaking this vicious cycle of poverty. If we can educate them and help them to realize their full potential, then as adults they and their children will not be dependent on the welfare system.

When are people going to realize that so many of the problems we face today are interconnected?

Posted by: Nevadaandy | March 27, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Mark Sanford is the chief poverty pimp in the state of South Carolina. The state controls the education funding to county school districts. No local controls, no local inputs.

Meanwhile, former Harvard hoopster Arne Duncan has fresh ideas. No wonder Sanford feels threatened.

Smash the bureaucratic nonsense now! And, for that matter, the DCPS bureaucratic mess that Rhee inherited!


Posted by: bs2004 | March 30, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

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