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Obama names Duncan new secretary of education
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U.S. President-elect Barack Obama named on Tuesday Arne Duncan, the current chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools, as the next secretary of education.

Unlike the location of Obama's previous nominations, he present his education secretary choice to media at Dodge Renaissance Academy, one of the schools Duncan shut and then reopened on Chicago's West Side.

"With his leadership, I am confident that together, we will bring our education system -- and our economy -- into the 21st century, and give all our kids the chance to succeed," Obama told the press.

Obama noted the government's years of failure to act on the U.S. education problems," stuck in the same tired debates that have stymied our progress and left schools and parents to fend for themselves: Democrat versus Republican; vouchers versus the status quo; more money versus more reform -- all along failing to acknowledge that both sides have good ideas and good intentions."

Despite having not been a teacher ever, Duncan, 44, was considered having extensive experience in educational policy and management.

He has been leading the third largest school district in the country since 2001. Prior to that, he also worked for six years with an initiative to create educational opportunities for students on Chicago's South Side.

The current education secretary, Margaret Spelling, has called Duncan a "visionary" school leader and reformer who would be a "great choice" to run the U.S. Department of Education.

"I am convinced that no issue -- no issue is more pressing than education," Duncan said at the press conference. "Whether it's fighting poverty, strengthening our economy, or promoting opportunity, education is the common thread."

Living in the same neighborhood in Chicago South Side, Duncan and Obama are longtime friends, and often play basketball together.

During Obama's presidential campaign, Duncan served as his adviser on education policies.

In 1987, Duncan graduated from Harvard University with a degree in sociology, where he was co-captain of the basketball team. From 1987 to 1991, he played professional basketball in Australia, during which he met his wife, Karen.

(Xinhua News Agency December 17, 2008)

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