Obama unveils education secretary
President-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday tapped a long-time friend and head of Chicago's school system to become education secretary and vowed to boost student achievement that is key to US competitiveness in the future, dpa reported.
Arne Duncan has been chief executive of Chicago's public schools since 2001. His work has been met with praise from both sides of the political aisle, including from current Bush Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.
As the US battles through a year-long recession, Obama said improving education would be "the single biggest determinant of how our economy does long term" and was critical to the country's competitiveness and economic performance.
"The path to jobs and growth begins right here in America's schools," Obama said in a Chicago press conference. "If we want to outcompete the world tomorrow, then we're gonna have to out-educate the world today."
Duncan, 44, leads the third-largest school district in the United States. Obama cited Duncan's willingness to explore new ideas - including offering students money for strong test performances - as a model he hoped to bring to the federal level.
Chicago has seen a "continuous, steady improvement" in test scores and performance over the passed seven years of his tenure, Obama said.
Duncan, a former professional basketball player, has played regularly with Obama during their time in Chicago.