Barack Obama has truly broken the mold in picking a Secretary of Education -- he's chosen the superintendent of the largest school district in his home state.
Wait -- that sounds familiar. George W. Bush did the same thing, of course, when he tapped HISD's Rod Paige to come to Washington in 2000.
The similarities between page and Chicago schools superintendent Arne Duncan have not gone unnoticed in the press.
Here's Alexander Russo In the Huffington Post:
It's hard not to think of incoming president George Bush's 2000 pick of Houston superintendent Rod Paige right now. Like Paige, Arne Duncan comes from a big city with a success story that the national press failed to figure out was mostly a mirage. Like Paige, Duncan will soon find out that he will be a figurehead who answers to instructions from campaign veterans who are already installed inside the D.P.C. Like Paige, Duncan may find himself frustrated and outflanked by powerful stakeholders (Congress, Republicans, national teachers unions) he hasn't really had to deal with before in Chicago.
If confirmed, Duncan would be only the second school superintendent to become the nation's top education leader. Former Houston Superintendent Rod Paige was the first under President Bush. Neither Obama nor Duncan uttered the words "No Child Left Behind" on Tuesday.
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Duncan, a basketball buddy of Obama's, has been called a "budding hero in the education business" by Bush's former Education secretary, Rod Paige. Just as the test-crazy nightmare of Paige's Houston served as a national model (when it should have been a cautionary tale) in 2001, so Duncan would bring to Washington an agenda based on Renaissance 2010, which Chicago education activist Michael Klonsky describes as a blend of "more standardized testing, closing neighborhood schools, militarization, and the privatization of school management."
Glad to have you back, Rod!
-- Richard Connelly