Can Arne Duncan (And $5 Billion) Fix America's Schools?

The new Education Secretary is pushing to transform the way kids learn. He'll need to face down the teachers' unions to do it

Erin Patrice O'Brien for TIME

Duncan, with charter-school students in Washington, is rallying states to compete for lots of cash.

The secretary of education is on fire. He's running up and down a makeshift basketball court in a Kentucky parking lot and has just executed one of those rare flashy moves that also manage to be completely functional: a behind-the-back, no-look pass to a teammate, who cuts backdoor for an easy layup. Moments later, he drains a fadeaway jumper with an opponent dead in his face.

On some weekends, when the rest of Washington is on the back nine or a racquetball court, Arne Duncan (whose first name is pronounced Are-knee) can be found playing in three-on-three street-ball tournaments across the...

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