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Education Secretary Arne Duncan to Leave Obama White House

Arne Duncan and President Obama
Arne Duncan and President Obama / AP
• October 2, 2015 3:25 pm

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Education Secretary Arne Duncan plans to step down from his post in December after spending seven years in the Obama administration, White House officials confirmed Friday.

Duncan is the latest member of Obama’s original cabinet to abandon the White House, leaving only two original members remaining.

The Associated Press obtained a letter that Duncan penned to his staff in which the secretary discloses that he will travel to Chicago to live with his family upon leaving the White House. He wrote that he does not yet have future career plans but wants them to "continue to involve the work of expanding opportunity for children."

An anonymous Obama administration official said that the president plans to have John King Jr., a senior Education Department official, run the agency for the rest of his administration as acting secretary. Obama will not nominate King or another official to the post during the rest of his time in the White House, thereby avoiding a confirmation fight.

Duncan is one of just three individuals from Obama’s original cabinet still in the White House. Only Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Office of Management and Budget director Shaun Donovan will remain when Duncan leaves in December, though Donovan initially held the post of secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Having followed Obama from Chicago to Washington, Duncan had a personal relationship with the president prior to serving in his cabinet.

Duncan, a proponent of Common Core, sparked controversy in late 2013 when he characterized critics of the state standards as "white suburban moms who—all of a sudden—their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were."

Published under: Barack Obama