Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Call me Arne

This is a great link to the Talking Points Memo written by I think an anonymous Education Department staffer on Arne Duncan's first few days in office.  I never weighed in on the whole education secretary debates of a month or so ago.  I was very pleased to not see NYC chancellor Joe Klein not be named (just too many darn bad things written and said about him) and understood why Linda Darling Hammond was not picked (too academic, too much of an enemy to the TFA/self important education reform crowd).  The Duncan pick made sense.  There was too much written about him that said things like he was a good leader, he was able to both reform schools and work with the teachers' union in Chicago.  When those things are written about someone over and over, there has to be some truth in it.  He seems to mirror Obama's predilection/obsession with bipartisanship and bringing a sense of unity to to our divided political world.  Duncan's job though is bridging the divide between education reform camps within the Democratic party but needless to say it will be very interesting to see Obama/Duncan and all the rest try this way of doing things.

I just love the story of Arne eating in the cafeteria and walking around and introducing himself to staffers at the department.  It is what a good or natural leader does when new in a situation.  What is even more striking is that this seemed to have never occured under Paige and Spellings.  I good friend of mine who is a career state department employee said the same thing about Bush's higher ups.  They had absolutely no interest in developing relationships or trying to work with career government employees and treated many people around them as simply objects to lecture at and point fingers at etc. It is good to see that attitude gone for the next few years.  Good luck Arne.

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