10 Things You Didn't Know About Arne Duncan

Duncan is Barack Obama's pick to head the Education Department.


1. Arne Duncan was born Nov. 6, 1964. He grew up in the Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park.

2. Duncan's parents were active in Chicago's academic life. His late father, Starkey, was a professor at the University of Chicago, and his mother, Susan, is the founder and namesake of a neighborhood tutoring center that she's run for decades.

3. As a young man, Duncan was a basketball standout at neighborhood games and at his school, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. He was recruited to play college ball for Harvard and Princeton.

4. Duncan chose to attend Harvard, where he was cocaptain of the basketball team and an Academic All-American. He graduated magna cum laude in 1987 with a bachelor's in sociology.

5. Duncan took a year off from his undergraduate studies at Harvard to work with children at the tutoring center his mother had founded. He wrote his senior thesis about his experiences there.

6. After college, Duncan had an unsuccessful tryout with the NBA's Boston Celtics.

7. From 1987 to 1991, Duncan played professional basketball in Australia's National Basketball League. At the same time, he also held a government job—he was a social worker who dealt with troubled children.

8. Duncan returned to the United States in 1992 to direct the Ariel Education Initiative, a Chicago philanthropic organization designed to bring educational opportunity to students in disadvantaged communities.

9. Duncan took a job with the Chicago public school system in 1998. He headed the system's magnet school program and served as the deputy chief of staff of the system. Three years later, he was chosen to lead the system. He has been Chicago Public Schools CEO since 2001.

10. Duncan's wife, Karen, is a native of Australia. The two met while he was playing professional basketball in that country. She has worked as a high school physical education teacher and coach, and she was once the athletic director at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. The Duncans have two children, Claire and Ryan. 


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