Goodbye Arne Duncan, Hello 2016 Education Reform

At the close of 2015 last week, Arne Duncan officially left his role as Secretary of Education of the United States. When he announced his resignation in October, Duncan cited his family as the reason for his departure from D.C. back to his hometown of Chicago.

Easily the most powerful secretary in the U.S. Department of Education’s history, Duncan left behind a number of fundamental changes to the American educational system, for better or for worse. Over the past 7 years of his tenure, Duncan focused primarily on state adoption of Common Core State Standards, the opening of more charter schools, and increased standardized testing to evaluate teaching.

One of the most hotly debated topics of Duncan’s tenure has been his implementation of the Common Core State Standards. Republicans resent the government control, other parties resent increased standardized testing. Both blame Duncan. In light of the backlash, it may or may not be a coincidence that the Every Student Succeeds Act, which gives power back to the states, was signed just a few weeks before Duncan stepped down.

Although the reforms themselves are not yet perfect, the president has high hopes for the future changes Duncan’s legacy will support. Obama hails Duncan’s effectiveness and tenacity in creating positive changes to the U.S. educational system.

“Had he not been, I believe, as tenacious as he was, I think that we would not have as good of a product as we do here today. And so I could not be prouder of Arne Duncan,” said Obama (NBC News).

The new Secretary of Education is John B. King, Jr., a former New York education commissioner who shares many of Duncan’s ideologies. Dissenters of federalizing educational policies and charter schools may be wary, but with Congress’ passing of the Every Student Succeeds act and the Office of Education Technology’s new National Education Technology Plan (NETP), the outlook for the future of U.S. education reform looks bright.

More news on Duncan’s Departure: 

How Arne Duncan Reshaped American Education and Made Enemies Along the Way (NBC News)

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan condemns police code of silence (Chicago Sun-Times)

I’ve got to hand it to you, Arne Duncan (Washington Post)

Hannah Nyren

Hannah Nyren

Hannah Nyren is the General Manager of EdTech Times. A Texan by birth but a Bostonian at heart, Hannah is an educational writer, AmeriCorps alum, and one-time StartupWeekend EDU (SWEDU) winning team member. She started her career at a Pearson-incubated edtech startup, but has since covered travel, food & culture, and even stonemasonry in addition to education.