Obama has picked Arne Duncan of Chicago as Secretary of Education. Unwilling to send his own kids to schools run by Mr. Duncan, he is never-the-less putting Duncan in charge of the rest of our schools.
My appointment for the Secretary of the Department of Education would have been the head of a liquidation firm. As a libertarian, I can find fault just about everywhere in Washington, but nothing better illustrates the modern disregard for the Constitution and the 9th and 10th Amendments than the Federal education infrastructure. My daughter asked me what I would do first if I were President. I would put blowing up this department first (though its demise would be neck and neck with the Department of Energy). I would even be willing to do it in a funding-neutral way, such that Federal funds currently allocated to education would still be so allocated, and simply distributed on some kind of per head basis to local districts. Which, in fact, would actually increase real education funding, eliminating the great Washington leaky bucket as well as the cost of compliance with reams of rules and regulations that is born by local districts.
It is possible to find a few (though very few, on a percentage basis) anecdotes of public schools that have been turned around (in fact, I think there are few enough that a movie can and has been made about every one). There are no examples that I know of a large school district being turned around. As to this guy Duncan picked by Obama today -- I am willing to believe he had some point successes at individual schools. But he certainly didn't turn around the whole district (certainly not to the Obama family's standards, since they refused to send their kids to the schools Duncan ran). So what hope does he have at a national level? Answer: none. But I am sure he will ask for more money to do it.