Key Coverage

Duncan Legacy: Innovation and Regulation

Like every education secretary, much of the focus of Duncan’s tenure has been on elementary and secondary education, and it is primarily that work for which he will probably be remembered (positively and negatively) by most Americans. Duncan’s vocal support for the controversial Common Core standards effort made him a target of teachers’ unions and states’ rights advocates alike.

Yet like his immediate predecessor in the George W. Bush administration, Margaret Spellings — but even more so — Duncan has overseen an Education Department that has taken an activist role in higher education policy making: overhauling the student loan programs, aggressively cracking down on for-profit colleges and campus sexual assault, and turning up the accountability pressures on (and the regulation of) colleges.