Secretary of Education Arne Duncan deserves the many plaudits he received on Friday from President Obama and his friends in the reform community—and even from his sometime-foes in the teachers’ unions. As everyone remarked, he’s a good and decent man, a fighter for disadvantaged kids who’s passionate about his work and loyal to his team. That was certainly my personal experience with him; he was more gracious toward me than I probably deserved, considering the many swipes I’ve taken at his policy decisions over the years.
So please bear with me one more time: Even at this moment of celebration, congratulation, and reflection regarding Arne’s time at the helm, the Obama administration can’t seem to help itself. It almost seems determined to poison the well with Congress and play to the stereotype of a government unwilling to abide by constitutional limits.
I’m referring, of course, to the decision to appoint John King (another smart, committed reformer and all-around great guy) as “acting” education secretary for an entire year rather than putting him through the Senate confirmation process.
It’s certainly true that the confirmation process has slowed to an agonizing pace over the past few decades. And the Bush 43 administration also opted...