WASHINGTON--Another Chicagoan is joining the Obama administration with the expected appointment Tuesday of Chicago public schools chief Arne Duncan to be Obama's Education Secretary.
The appointment--confirmed to the Sun-Times by a transition official--adds Duncan to an Obama White House lineup that already includes a bevy from Obama's Chicago inner circle: Valerie Jarrett, incoming senior advisor; Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), chief of staff designate; Desiree Rogers, social secretary; David Axelrod, another advisor; Tina Tchen, public liaison chief and Michael Stratumanis, Jarretts's chief of staff.
Obama shares with Duncan a Harvard education and a passion for basketball--he was a player on Obama's Election Day pick-up game. He also was raised in Hyde Park-Kenwood community where Obama now lives. Duncan's father is on the University of Chicago faculty and he attended the U of C Lab School, where the Obama's send their daughters, Malia and Sasha.
Duncan beat out two educators who were also thought to be in the running: Joel Klein, chancellor of the New York City Public Schools ( and an alum of the Clinton Justice Department) and Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford University education professor.
I'm told Duncan had well connected boosters for the cabinet spot: John Rogers, his professional mentor, friend of 35 years and fellow U of C gym rat,and two others like Rogers close to Obama: Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Penny Pritzker, the Chicago business executive who was Obama's presidential campaign finance director.
Rogers, the Illinois Finance co-chair for the presidential campaign, is a co-chair of the Presidential Inauguration Committee. Pritzker is a co-chair of Obama's Transition Team.
After playing pro basketball in Australia, Duncan returned to Chicago to work for Rogers' foundation dedicated to helping educate underprivileged South Side youths.
"The cool thing about Arnie," Rogers said, "is that after school he would help his mother tutor kids."
Below, Duncan official bio. Source: Chicago Public Schools
Arne Duncan graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1987, majoring in sociology. He was co-captain of Harvard's basketball team and was named a first team Academic All-American. From 1987-1991, Mr. Duncan played professional basketball in Australia, where he also worked with children who were wards of the state.
Duncan returned to Chicago in 1992 to direct the Ariel Education Initiative, which seeks to create outstanding educational opportunities for inner-city children on the City's South Side. In 1998, he joined the Chicago Public Schools.
In June, 2001, Mayor Richard M. Daley named Duncan Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools.
Duncan currently serves on the Boards of the Ariel Education Initiative, Chicago Cares, The Children's Center, the Golden Apple Foundation, the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, Jobs for America's Graduates, Junior Achievement, the National Association of Basketball Coaches' Foundation, Renaissance Schools Fund, Scholarship Chicago and the South Side YMCA.
He also serves on the Board of Overseers for Harvard College and the Visiting Committees for Harvard University's Graduate School of Education and the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration. He was a fellow in the Leadership Greater Chicago's class of 1995, and a member of the Aspen Institute's Henry Crown Fellowship Program, Class of 2002. He has received honorary degrees from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Lake Forest College and National Louis University.
In 2006, the City Club of Chicago named Duncan Citizen of the Year.
Arne Duncan, Chief Executive Officer