Education Secretary Arne Duncan, one of President Obama’s longest-serving Cabinet members, announced his resignation Friday as the president praised his service.
“America’s going to be better off for what he’s done,” Mr. Obama said at the White House. “It’s a record that I truly believe no other Education secretary can match. I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
The president said he tried to talk Mr. Duncan into staying on the job, but said he has “more than earned the right to return home” to Chicago.
The president also announced his intention to nominate deputy Education Secretary John King to take over the post, calling him “the right man to lead the department.”
Mr. Duncan, formerly CEO of the Chicago public schools, has been with the administration since the start in 2009. He praised Mr. Obama’s leadership.
“Seven and a half years later, my admiration is only greater,” Mr. Duncan said.
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline, Minnesota Republican, also commended Mr. Duncan’s service.
“It goes without saying that we have had our disagreements, but I have never doubted his commitment to America’s students,” Mr. Kline said. “While some of his decisions have been controversial, he has challenged us to make education reform a national priority.”
The shakeup comes as the House and Senate have passed education bills that would roll back some of Mr. Obama’s education policy, including Mr. Duncan’s push for adoption of Common Core education standards. Negotiators are still working out their differences of the rewrite of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law.
Carmel Martin, executive vice president at the Center for American Progress, said Mr. Duncan “has fought to ensure that communities at risk of marginalization in the classroom — such as students of color, students with disabilities, and English language learners — do not fall through the cracks.”
Mr. Duncan’s departure in December will leave Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as the only original member of the president’s Cabinet who is still serving.