Duncan Faces Political Battle Over Education Reform

"The problem is that what parents liked about the voucher program was that the class sizes were smaller, the schools were safer and they think their children had a more engaging experience, all things we have actually asked to try to do in public schools," Weingarten said.

Duncan has also come under fire for not scrapping the No Child Left Behind legislation, which is up for renewal in Congress as early as the fall.

"A lot of Obama supporters hate NCLB and hoped he would throw it out," Vander Ark said. "To the dismay of many Democrats, Arne has only strengthened the choice and accountability platform that characterized the two Bush terms."

The landmark Bush administration legislation rankled Democrats by emphasizing standardized testing in math and English, and ticked off Republicans for dictating terms to states.

"We are hopeful there will be a serious look at totally overhauling the current law and redesigning the accountability system that currently exists, which is seriously flawed," Stocks said.

Duncan said NCLB was "obviously, dramatically underfunded" and said the Bush administration did itself no favors by giving states loose goals and tight testing requirements.

But he insisted that holding teachers and schools accountable is crucial.

"Hold them accountable for results but really let states and districts figure out how to get there," Duncan said.

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