Rotella ’86 Profiles Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Carlo Rotella ’86 (Photo by Lee Pellegrini/BC Chronicle)

Carlo Rotella ’86 (Photo by Lee Pellegrini/BC Chronicle)

In the Feb. 1 issue of The New Yorker, Carlo Rotella ’86, the director of the American Studies Program at Boston College, profiles U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Rotella points out that President Obama has allotted Duncan more than 70 billion dollars in federal economic-stimulus funds to hand out to the states—more money than any Secretary of Education has had before him. Duncan has exceptional leverage with this stimulus money and his close relationship with Obama, which dates back to when Duncan worked in Chicago.

Rotella writes about Duncan’s childhood on the South Side of Chicago, his passion for basketball, and the after-school program his mother ran and continues to run in North Kenwood-Oakland. Duncan attended Harvard and then played professional basketball in Australia before returning to Chicago.

Rotella examines Duncan’s working career in Chicago and his tenure as C.E.O. of the Chicago Public Schools, and he interviews several critics of his policies. He also considers the rules by which the stimulus funds will be awarded to states and considers the legacy of No Child Left Behind.

Rotella writes: “Many people who voted for Obama are finding out that on education, as on other issues, he is more of a centrist than they ever imagined. They are realizing, too, that Duncan, for all his idealism, is also the guy who got along just fine with Mayor Daley.”

Rotella also writes about playing basketball with Arne Duncan on The New Yorker web site.

David Low

David Low '76 writes about arts and culture for the Wesleyan magazine and Wesleyan Connection. He is associate director of publications in the Office of University Communications. He is also a published fiction writer. E-mail: