Duncan Farewell Letter

Thanks to a friend for passing along this farewell letter:

Click below for the text copy.

December 16, 2008 Dear Colleagues: Over

the past decade, we’ve worked hard together to make our schools

dramatically better for families all across Chicago. And for the past

seven years that I’ve served as CEO, it’s been the tremendous energy

and commitment of our educators and our students that have been my main

source of motivation and inspiration. Together, we’ve shown the kind of

progress that is possible when you put a laser-like focus on the core

subjects, raise expectations, and expand opportunities for all of our

children. Because of that hard work, Chicago has become a national

model for urban-school reform. In

being named today as President-Elect Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the

US Department of Education, I owe each of you my sincere thanks for all

of the long hours and tireless dedication that you devote to our

children and our schools. Today’s announcement is

a reflection on all of us—our hard work, our teamwork, our willingness

to take risks and make tough decisions, our ability to listen and

analyze things in a thoughtful and open-minded way, to change course

when needed, and build on things that are working. But most of all, it's a reflection of our commitment to making a difference in kids' lives through their education. We're lucky to have a mayor who really values children and education. He

took a chance in giving me this job, and I've tried to lead with the

same kind of courage and commitment that he's shown in taking over our

schools. In the end, it's all about fighting for our kids, and doing what's right for them. And

I feel very good about the fact that we've done it the right way: by

doing things openly and honestly, by taking risks and not being afraid

of to challenge the status quo, by listening to what our principals,

teachers, and students have to say and getting their ideas on how

things should be done, by listening to what our supporters and our

detractors have to say about our efforts, and most of all, by believing

in our kids and their ability to learn and succeed. Our

students are very lucky to have a great team of people fighting for

them—starting with Barbara Eason-Watkins. We've come a long way in the

past seven years, and Barbara has been the architect of a lot of that

progress. But there's a lot of work still ahead, and I have all the

confidence in the world in Barbara and the leadership team's ability to

get it done. I’ve seen and worked with many teams in my life, and this

is—by far—the best, smartest, and most-committed team I’ve ever been a

part of. We’ll all be working closely together to make sure there is a

smooth transition here, and we’ll be sharing more information with you

as that process moves along in the coming weeks. I plan to come back to all of you often for ideas and inspiration. It's

very exciting to have this opportunity—to fight hard to make sure every

child in the country has access to a great school, to say to our

students everywhere: we value you, you're important to us, and we

believe in you. My mother showed me the tremendous significance and the endless rewards of making that your life's work. And I'm honored to have a chance to continue doing her work, on behalf of children all across our great country. Again,

thank you so much for everything you do on behalf of our students, and

thank you for all of the support and inspiration you’ve provided to me. Sincerely, Arne DuncanChief Executive OfficerChicago Public Schools

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