Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is meeting with Mayor Bloomberg probably as I type to discuss how the federal stimulus package will help the New York City schools. After that, they will take their conclusions public, in an appearance at Explore Charter School in Brooklyn, where the men will be flanked by Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and teachers union president Randi Weingarten. Philissa will be there and will report back later today.
This will be one of Duncan’s very first school visits as President Obama’s education secretary. Duncan, the former head of the Chicago public schools, beat out a list of names to join Obama’s cabinet that included Klein. He enjoys support from sparring factions of the Democratic Party, including both teachers unions and supporters of reforms like charter schools and merit-based pay for teachers and principals. Yet so far he is giving extra public attention to the latter group, visiting now two charter schools in his first few weeks in the job and advocating behind the scenes for innovations like merit pay to be included in the stimulus package.
Today’s visit to New York City, an epicenter of these kinds of reforms, may be one more signal that Duncan will cooperate with those who sometimes spar with teachers unions. The visit is Duncan’s second visit to a charter school this month. On February 4, he joined the president and the first lady, Michelle, on a visit to a D.C. charter school. He also visited a traditional public school in Arlington, Virginia, last week.