WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s family moves back to Chicago, his children will be attending a school that has avoided implementing his policies.
Duncan’s children had been attending Arlington Public Schools while he served in President Obama’s cabinet since 2009.
But now, they will attend his alma mater: the private, prestigious University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.
The secretary’s spokeswoman, Dorie Nolt, tells the Washington Post:
After more than six years living just outside Washington, D.C., Secretary Duncan’s family moved back to Chicago recently. His wife, Karen, is ready to resume her full-time career in education and will work at her former employer, the University of Chicago Laboratory School, where their children will attend school. Secretary Duncan will continue to work and maintain a residence in D.C. but commute to spend weekends with his family, as many cabinet Secretaries have done. Secretary Duncan remains committed to his work in the Cabinet and will continue to serve at the pleasure of the President.
Duncan has been an ardent defender of the Common Core national standards initiative, a plan to set uniform learning standards across all states. Developed by groups in Washington, DC, the federal government heavily incentivized the adoption of the initiative through the 2009 stimulus.
Since then, Duncan has asserted more federal control over schools by way of the Common Core initiative.
Now, Duncan’s children will attend a school that does not use the controversial Common Core.
While Duncan has been a proponent of increased standardized testing, the school his children will now attend does not “bombard” children with test-prep, nor does it evaluate teachers using test scores.
But as an testing opt-out movement took root across the country earlier this year, Duncan threatened to drop the hammer on states that didn’t comply with federal demands.
“We think most states will do that,” Duncan said in April of states making “sure districts get enough students take the tests,” Chalkbeat reported. “If states don’t do that, then we have an obligation to step in.”
That “stepping in” would have involved financial penalties and other federal meddling.
“I’m extraordinarily thankful that my children are able to go to wonderful public schools with great principals and teachers who are really committed,” Duncan said in an April interview. “My wife and I have been really pleased with the quality of the education our children have received and we just try to do what we can to be good partners to their teachers.”
But his children won’t be subjected to Chicago Public Schools — a system vastly different from Arlington’s.
While Duncan can afford to send his kids to the Lab School with its $30,618 annual tuition, he is opposed to providing vouchers to those parents who are less fortunate and have children trapped in CPS who may want to attend the high-quality school along with his children.
The secretary was a supporter of the Democrat-controlled Congress’ move in 2009 to kill the wildly successful D.C. voucher program in the nation’s capital.