Arne Duncan hands off with Chicago schools: “this is better dealt with by ... the experts”

SHARE Arne Duncan hands off with Chicago schools: “this is better dealt with by ... the experts”

Photo by Natasha Korecki

CHARLOTTE, N.C — He may have expertise working with Chicago public schools and happens to be the highest-ranking education official in the country, but U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Thursday he would not get involved in the brewing tempest involving the Chicago Teachers Union.

“I think there is great leadership in the city,” Duncan said initially when asked if he would get involved. Duncan, former Chicago schools superintendent, spoke to reporters briefly following a morning address to the Illinois delegation.

The Chicago Teachers Union, representing the third largest public school district in the nation, has set a Sept. 10 strike date after butting heads with policies and strategies put forth under Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

When pressed on whether he could lend a hand in smoothing out relations, Duncan responded: “Happy to help if needed … I think this is better dealt with by people who are the experts and are looking at this day to day.”

Duncan said in his time as Chicago schools superintendent he worked through two negotiations, including one that meant negotiating until the wee hours of the morning.

“Obviously, it’s been a tough time. But this is a time when you put aside egos, you put aside hurt feelings, bruised egos, whatever the case might be,” Duncan said. “By definition any deal that gets done is not going to be perfect.”

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