ABC News’ Matt Jaffe reports:
Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan, one of President-elect Barack Obama’s possible picks for Secretary of Education, visited the Department of Education Thursday morning in Washington D.C., but cautioned that his trip had nothing to do with any speculation that he might be named to lead the Department.
"Obviously it is flattering," Duncan told ABC News. "But I’m spending like no time thinking about it."
Duncan traveled to D.C. for a Jobs for America’s Graduates board meeting, but took time to brief outgoing Education Secretary Margaret Spellings on a Dec. 11 press conference the two will hold in Chicago on the Teacher Incentive Fund.
"There’s no story here," he said, noting that the possibility of replacing Spellings did not come up in their meeting.
Duncan emphasized that at the present time he is only concentrating on his current Chicago post.
"I’ve really been focused on Chicago," he said. "That’s where my head’s been. That’s my job. I’ve got more than 5,000 kids that need me thinking about them. That’s what I’m focused on every day."
The Chicago schools boss said that with Obama set to take over the Oval Office next month, there’s reason for optimism about the nation’s education system.
"There’s a huge opportunity for him to the best education president in decades," he said. "He’s got this very thoughtful, comprehensive strategy looking at child education and affordability on the higher education side. He’s got this extraordinary interest in making a difference in the lives of the country’s children."
"A lot of his education strategy has been based on his work in Chicago," he continued. "He did a lot of visiting schools here, talked about schools in speeches and actually wrote about it in his book."
Duncan called Obama’s election victory "amazing — absolutely amazing".
"I couldn’t be more proud of what he’s done and what he’s gonna do," he said. "Quality education made a huge difference in the lives of he and Michelle. It’s part of their core. These are people who came from humble beginnings and worked hard in school and did well. They lived it."
– Matt Jaffe