Barack Obama has chosen Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan to be his Secretary of Education. As scarred veterans of the school-reform wars, we applaud the choice with great caution.
We’ve long said there is no more urgent domestic issue than the collapsed state of inner-city education. Going back to the Clinton Presidency, we have argued on behalf of vouchers that would let parents of students in the poorest public schools have the same shot at a sound education as do more affluent children, such as those of Mr. Obama. The opposition from public teachers’ unions to this or almost any significant reform is legendary. Thus, we listened closely when Senator Obama said nearly nothing during the campaign that would offend the unions, mostly urging more spending on preschool and after-school programs.
We now read that Mr. Duncan is an ardent proponent of public charter schools, though probably not of vouchers for private schools. Chester E. Finn Jr., the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and a frequent contributor to this page on school reform, likes Mr. Duncan. “He’s a proven and committed and inventive education reformer,” Mr. Finn wrote yesterday on the Institute’s blog, “not tethered to the public-school establishment and its infinite interest groups.”