Arne Duncan: The State of Education in America

Arne Duncan, John Herron
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
6:30 pm
America’s education system approaches a pivotal new school year, coming off the disruption and learning and socialization setbacks wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic and struggling to define a new normal. 

In a special online Library presentation, former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sits down with Library Executive Director John Herron to assess the unprecedented stresses and other issues and identify strategies for moving forward. Amid other consequences for individuals, families, and communities, COVID slowed learning and compounded divides in education opportunity. How far have students fallen behind, and how do they catch up? What modifications should be retained? What should be discarded? 

Moreover, how do we navigate the partisan political climate? How much say should individual states and school districts have in charting the course of local education? Can we find middle ground? 

Duncan, who served as secretary of education under President Obama from 2009 to December 2015, spent eight previous years as CEO of Chicago Public Schools. He is currently managing partner of the Emerson Collective, an organization led by philanthropist and investor Laurene Powell Jobs that invests in efforts to effect immigration and education reform, among other initiatives. Duncan is also the co-founder of Chicago CRED (Creating Real Economic Destiny), a violence prevention initiative in his hometown. 

Herron spent 20 years in higher education, including 17 as a professor and administrator at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, before moving to the Library as executive director in July 2020. 

Watch the presentation live online at