White House

Obama administration stalwart Arne Duncan to leave

Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaks during a town hall meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sept. 14, 2015. Duncan is stepping down in December after 7 years in the Obama administration as Education Secretary. Duncan says in a letter to staff that he’s returning to Chicago to live with his family.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaks during a town hall meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sept. 14, 2015. Duncan is stepping down in December after 7 years in the Obama administration as Education Secretary. Duncan says in a letter to staff that he’s returning to Chicago to live with his family. AP

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, one of President Barack Obama’s longest serving Cabinet members, will leave the administration at the end of December.

Obama will make the announcement today, a White House official said, and will name will John B. King Jr., who currently handles the functions of Deputy Secretary of Education as Duncan’s replacement.

The departure of Duncan, the former superintendent of schools in Obama's hometown of Chicago, leaves Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as the last original member of Obama’s Cabinet.

Duncan, who played hoops for Harvard and for pro teams in Australia, also played an occasional round of presidential basketball with Obama.

In a memo to his staff, Duncan said he made the decision to leave after several months of commuting between his family in Chicago and his job in Washington.

He called serving as education secretary “the greatest honor of my life,” but said living apart from his family had become “too much of a strain, and it is time for me to step aside and give a new leader a chance.”

He said he had no immediate plans beyond returning to Chicago, but said he expected his next steps would “continue to involve the work of expanding opportunity for children.”

King currently oversees all preschool-12th-grade education policies, programs and strategic initiatives, as well as the department’s operations. He also oversees the department’s work with Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper task force, which seeks to address opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color.

King was previously commissioner of education for the state of New York since 2011, where he served as chief executive officer of the State Education Department and as president of the University of the State of New York, overseeing the state’s elementary and secondary schools. He was one of the nation's youngest state education leaders at the time of his appointment and the first African-American and Puerto Rican to serve as New York State education commissioner.

  Comments