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On the Daily Show, Duncan Talks Teachers, NCLB, Race to the Top

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February 17, 2012 05:53 pm


Last night, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for a wide-ranging interview that focused on everything from No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, common standards and the next generation of assessments to elevating the teaching profession and New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin, who, like Duncan, played basketball at Harvard University.

Duncan also spent a significant portion of the interview discussing the importance of a quality education to the nation’s economy.

I think our biggest challenge is that we’ve become too complacent. We’re sixteen in the world in college graduates. A generation ago we were first. It isn’t that we’ve dropped. We’ve flat-lined and fifteen other countries have passed us by.

We have to educate our way to a better economy. There are 2 million jobs out there today in our country that we can’t fill because we don’t have the educated workforce to fill those jobs. And so we have to be willing to change the status quo.

We have a million young people dropping out of school every single year. There are no jobs-none-they’re guaranteed poverty and social failure. We have to challenge the status quo. We have to take some risks and we have to do some things in a different way, but we have to have a high bar, we have to have high expectations.

Duncan also discussed the Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching (RESPECT) Project, which aims to “bring a new generation of well-prepared, bright and capable men and women into the classroom from a diversity of backgrounds, lift up the accomplished teachers in our classrooms today, ensure that schools are led by strong teams, and establish teaching as a respected profession on a par with medicine, law, and engineering,” according to the U.S. Department of Education’s proposal for the program.

To support the program, President Obama proposed a new $5 billion grant program in his Fiscal Year 2013 budget to support states and districts that commit to pursuing bold reforms at every stage of the teaching profession. Under the program, funds would be awarded competitively to states with participating districts, and, in non-participating states, to consortia of districts. The proposal touches on every phase of teaching from training and tenure to compensation and career opportunities.

Watch the complete interview with Duncan at Duncan’s portion of the show runs from approximately 13:00 to 31:00.



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