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Duncan Should Stay. But He Has to Go.

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Should Chicago schools superintendent Arne Duncan go to Washington if he's asked to head the U.S. Department of Education, or should he stay in town?

That's the question on many peoples' minds, including Elizabeth Evans from the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, who very much wants him to stay because he's pro-charter and all sorts of other nice things (Chicago schools need Arne Duncan's skills).

(I'm guessing that Mrs. Arne Duncan and child also prefer to stay in town. But then again, so did Rahm Emanuel's wife and we all know how that one played out.)

In the short term, Duncan wins any way it plays out: he's considered for the job, takes the job, or he declines the job. I'm not sure it makes much difference to Chicago schools whether he goes or not, considering how tightly locked down the Board has been. (I dare one of the Daley appointees to vote against something, just once, at the next Board meeting!)

The only way Duncan loses is if he goes to D.C. and flops like the last big city superintendent did. That was Rod Paige. Bullied by folks in the White House (including his successor, Margaret Spellings) and by the teachers unions and Congress, Paige had an awful time of it.

Paige shoulda stayed in Houston. Duncan should probably stay in Chicago. Problem is, what does Duncan do next? Go work for a foundation or a for-profit? Go back to school and reinvent himself? He's a young guy, has been on the job a while now, and the end is gonna come someday soon one way or the other. So maybe he has to go, even though it may not work out so great.

Personally, I'm hoping he doesn't get the chance to make this decision. I'm just not inspired or impressed enough by him to want him to be at the helm of the USDE. It's largely a bully pulpit position, and I have just never been moved by the guy, despite his obvious improvements as a speaker over the years.