1 There are far too many children today across America who are poorly served by education. And when we fail to educate, we’ve condemned them
to poverty and social failure.
So I talked about our
pride, and this is genuine pride, that we have high school graduation rates up to all-time highs as a nation. That’s
lots of hard work by tons of people around the nation. We’re at about 84 percent. BUT
The truth is that means there are about 750,000 young people, black and Latino, who are leaving our schools for the streets
each year. And they have no chance to have a successful life. They have no chance to enter the middle class. And
so much of the pushback on many issues we got was that we were going too fast.
2 Duncan: My self-critique is that all of us are going way too slow. Way
too slow. Until we make sure that every child in this country has access to a great education, we have to work
with real urgency, we have to make ourselves uncomfortable, we have to move outside our comfort zones
Life for a lot of people around this nation is very, very
scary. And until we’re walking in their shoes, until we’re understanding that, I think we get complacent.
So, yes, we insisted on high standards because I would defy anyone to give me a good reason why low standards are good
for any child in America. Yes, we insisted on intervening in low-performing schools because we had 2,000 high schools
in this nation that were producing half our nation’s dropouts and 75 percent from minority community.
am thrilled we cut that number from 2,000 to 1,000. Our goal for the nation in the next four or five years should be to
eliminate dropout factors. We should go to zero. It doesn’t mean we’ll eliminate dropouts, but when you have schools that year after year, sometimes for generations, where the vast majority of kids are dropping
out, what chance do they have?
3.0 Teacher evaluation because we think that great teaching matters. And we think that, you know, great
teachers change kids’ lives in a positive way. Teachers who aren’t as good hurt kids.
I always give the example of California. California
has about 300,000 teachers. I would argue the top 10 percent in California, the top 30,000, are not just great California teachers, they’re world-class teachers. They could teach anywhere in the world and be
great. I would argue the bottom 10 percent, the bottom 30,000, probably shouldn’t be teaching, probably should be
doing something else with their lives. And there’s not one person in California who can tell you who’s in that top 10 percent and who’s in that bottom 10 percent.
And I think, again, if we genuinely care about kids and we
genuinely care about minority kids and poor kids and getting good resources and good teachers to them, if we don’t
have the conversation about teacher quality, we’re not in the game. And it’s a difficult conversation, it’s
an uncomfortable conversation, and we have lots of ways to debate teacher evaluation. But if we’re unwilling to
say that great teachers matter and great principles matter, I think we’re lying to ourselves and we’re not
serious about closing achievement gaps.
4 A simple goal is to have Title 1 money, which is for poor kids, actually
go to poor kids. That’s how the law was written, that’s the intent of Title 1. What folks in the department
now are trying to do was actually make sure that money goes to poor kids and poor schools. And there’s massive pushback
from both the left and the right.
And again, how can we say we actually want to add more resources
for poor kids and for English language learners and for homeless kids if we’re unwilling to do what the law actually
requires us to do.
So this is not additional burdens, this is not additional mandates.
It’s simply saying money for poor kids shouldn’t go to middle class kids and to wealthy kids. And somehow
that is, again, wildly controversial and hard and difficult for adults. How do you justify that? How do you justify that?..
5 I love transparency. Few people
mention transparency. But what trumps transparency for me is urgency. And where we have kids in communities, poor kids who have been denied the resources they need for decades, who have been denied this,
and no outcry, no pushback because no one understands this stuff. No one knows about this.
6 Hopefully, folks understand
is that for me money is never, ever the only answer. This is not just an unfettered, you know, turn on the spigot.
For me the transparency part is so important. One, I want the poor money to go to poor kids, but, two, I would argue in many places that money is not actually helping poor kids learn more. And if that money is
not being effectively used, we’ve got to find out more effective ways to do it. So the goal is not just to give them
the money and then walk away. The goal is to change their life and that money is a tool, a vehicle, a strategy to do that.
So I just want to be explicit clear on that….
7 Accountability. Like taxpayer money, asking
any of us for an additional nickel for education, we have to be able to demonstrate how that’s helping a kid. And
if we can’t do that, we can’t ask for that money. You can’t do it, it’s not fair. And so there
has to be accountability. And I do think at the federal level that has to be -- if it’s just not happening at the
local levels, not happening at the state level, something has to happen. And so I think that one’s important. Secondly,
the R&D is huge. And third, again, I would push again just the innovation, the scaling what works. So, again, where
you have great local ideas where more poor kids and more English language learners -- again, black, white, Latino, --
where more kids are being successful, let’s just help them scale that and serve
more kids with whatever they’re doing, whether it’s doing enrollment classes or extracurricular stuff
or afterschool or whatever it might be. So I think those three things are ways to hold ourselves accountable, but take
to scale what’s working
MR. ROBINSON: Yeah. Arne just said
something, one thing I wanted to congratulate him on, I mean, it’s a tough job that he had, is that he made accountability
sexy. (Laughter) And that’s important to know. SECRETARY DUNCAN: Nobody’s ever said that before. (Laughter)
MR. ROBINSON: And that’s important to know because as I talk to parents and stakeholders in not only two states,
people are now talking about accountability in ways they had not, so I want to thank you for that.
MR. WEST: So in just a minute I want to open up to the audience
for questions, but, Arne, I still don’t think I’ve gotten you to give a word of advice to Betsy DeVos. So as
she thinks about the choice agenda -- SECRETARY DUNCAN: Sorry, I’ve got lots of advice. (Laughter) I was very clear.
Let me try and be clear once again. I think my advice would be she should set a goal for the nation to lead the world in
access to high-quality early childhood education.
TO MEASURE EDU-NATION BY
She should set a goal to get graduation rates up to 90 percent.
She should set a goal to have 100 percent of those high school graduates be college and career ready. And she should set
a goal to lead the world in college completion rates. And everything else flows from that. So that’s as clear as
I -- I mean, there are lots of details we can get into. We haven’t talked a lot about career and technical ed, voc
ed, which I’m a huge fan of. I think that’s a real interesting play they could make now with Perkins there.
But I just think, again, we’ve got to agree on goals. So just to answer this one directly, for me, $20 billion, I
don’t want to say it’s small ball, but it’s small ball to me. If you tell me this money’s going
to help reduce the dropout rate by this percent, then I start to pay attention. You tell me these resources are going
to help increase high school graduation rate by this percent, then I start to pay attention. Short of that, it’s
politics. And so I have not heard anyone -- and again, this is not a critique of Trump or her. I didn’t hear anyone
in the campaign other than a little bit on the early childhood talk about those four goals I’m talking about. Nobody.
And so for me that’s my clear, unequivocal advice. Again, whether it’s her or anybody else, it doesn’t
matter. Let’s agree on the goals and then let’s have lots of vigorous debate and try lots of different stuff
to achieve those goals.
you mentioned higher ed. If there’s something that Trump and Betsy can do, we’re looking at the 20 billion,
particularly for the low-income kids is to do a better job of pipelining those kids into great schools, but also they
have an opportunity to do some great things with Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Q&A FROM FLOOR
SPEAKER: 9 CIVICS
& CAMPUS MOODS AFTER 2 YEARS OF RUDE ELECTIONEERING
What’s the future
of the U.S. Department’s Office of Civil Rights, especially under a Trump administration, especially given the efforts
that you, Secretary Duncan, put into the school-to-prison pipeline, and the increasingly -- the
tensions on college campuses with sexual harassment and the like?
DUNCAN: The level of violence, the level of harassment, the level of bullying, which is
already too high, has markedly gone up. And again, I don’t blame Trump necessarily personally, but he has unleashed
a level of hate and vitriol that is undeniable. And in his own political self-interest, for them to turn a blind
eye to that would be a challenge. And so my hope and prayer for whatever motivations, I don’t -- but in their own
self-interests, for them not to take these kinds of things seriously would be a challenge. And I’ve shared with
folks that, you know, not to -- you know, some of the cases that we had to take on of
civil rights, this is not work we go seeking to do, one of the cases was a high school girl in Alabama who was gang raped
at school and then she is given discipline for lewd behavior. That’s the kind of thing that we get. Again,
not what we want to do, not what we like doing, but that’s the kind of thing that we deal with. Not easy to talk about,
but if we don’t address those things, if he/we choose to turn a blind eye, I think the cost is going to be extraordinary.
SPEAKER: I like the discussion, but I think sort of
the problem that comes to me with a sort of goal-setting between the left and right is that there are fundamental differences,
one of which is not discussed is pension reform at the state level. So sorry, Secretary Duncan, but Chicago is an especially
egregious example where you have Democratic politicians, white Democratic politicians, colluding with public sector unions
who refuse to reform the pension system and increasingly larger amounts of the education budget has gone to pay retired,
white, suburban teachers instead of going to poor black kids. And I think that’s particularly sinister. I also think
that, you know, the whole idea of just sort of like throwing money at the problem is -- it’s larger than that, especially
when you consider the sort of white coastal elites have just sort of decided that, like, rural white Americans are like
no longer relevant and that they’re going to build the country with the rest of America. And boys in younger schools,
as well, are doing particularly bad, especially in rural areas that have been impacted by technological change. So pensions,
the failed structure, I guess, of the progressive state, and boys. I mean, those things seem to be real issues. Democrats
are not going budge on pensions and Chicago’s kind of like the worst place where this is happening, where other
government services are suffering because of overblown state pension budgets
. MR. WEST: Got it. So let me try and -- the pension issue is a really nice one, I think, to inject into
this conversation because there’s no dispute that it’s a real issue and increasingly a constraint on state
and local budgets, and Chicago is a great example of that. I think it’s an interesting question then, what is the
role or responsibility of the federal government with respect to that problem, both in specific settings and nationally?
Do you have any thoughts on that?
SECRETARY DUNCAN: Again,
so I’m happy to take on the question. I take it in a different frame, again, what’s federal, state, local?
10 SEGMENTED TEACHER COMPENSATION & BLANKET PENSIONS -BROKEN
So to me the crux of the issue is how do you reward and compensate teachers? And the historic trade-off for teachers is
they get paid a very modest amount, but have the security of having a secure retirement. I think people who have thought
for 30 or 40 years deserve not to live in poverty. I would flip that. I’ve been very public. I would pay teachers a heck of a lot more money up front. I would pay teachers a heck of a lot more money to
work in poor communities, be that inner city or rural or Native American reservations. I would upend that whole system.
So can you do that at the federal level? Actually no, you can’t. That’s a state and a local issue. But we
have, I think, dramatically undervalued teachers and the teaching profession, and the
cost to teachers, the cost to taxpayers, the cost to students I think has been high. So I have very radical ideas about
a different way to reward, to train, to compensate teachers and, again, to think about degree of difficulty. To very specific,
I have one high school in Chicago where
I’ve had four kids killed this year already. Being a social worker at that school, being a counselor is a fundamentally
different job than being a social worker or a counselor at one of our schools in the Gold Coast of Chicago. We don’t
talk about those degrees of difficulty and I think we need to.
Audience Q&A Continued…
MR. MACRAE: Chris Macrae, Norman Macrae Foundation.
So back in April, on
this stage, the Education Commission, which is comprised of 30 national leaders, including Gordon Brown, Jack Ma, Jim
Kim, basically started with a different track and I’m wondering how your work connects with it,
The commission has been making a list of every way in which the system is totally broken all around
the world. Locally it’ll be different, but I think the five biggest things that have come up are
1 jobs, jobs, jobs, but small enterprise jobs, so nothing to do with education is just about ending
2 technology, mobile technology so that students
can be great at apps.
3 The opposite one, the one you SEcreatary
Duncan were talking about, I think, why is it that we have to go to Dubai to study the million-dollar teacher prize,
if we really love great teachers and want to replicate what they do?
Mass media, terrible. I mean, it doesn’t help us scale any good answers. It just complains and causes all
5 And the last and fifth thing is why don’t
we take down some West Baltimore, which is where Thurgood Marshall started and where there’s a huge educational
experiment going on. The Chinese come over to see it and it’s really working the whole education system all the
way back up from the ground around someone called Al Hathaway, who’s completely changing everything there. Small budgets,
but 10 times, 100 times more commitment of everyone in the community is doing it.
MR. WEST: And so what’s your question for the panel? (Laughter)
MACRAE: Well, how does your work connect with those systemically broken things? Because I didn’t hear much about technology.
I don’t think you’ve specifically mentioned jobs or, you know, I hardly heard the things which the Education
Commission are talking about. I didn’t really hear to a level of satisfaction.
MR. WEST: So let’s pick up the issue of jobs and educating people for careers. It’s a
topic of one of our memos. The Perkins Act, which is the federal investment in career and technical education, is the next
K-12 law up for reauthorization. There’s already been some work underway. What should the agenda look like on that
topic from the federal level, making sure that students are getting the skills they need for the workforce? ‘
MR. ROBINSON: Well, I’d say take a look at what’s taking
place in states. So 2010, one of the first pieces of legislation Governor McDonnell signed into law was the College Laboratory
And what that resulted in was the University of Virginia
partnering with its Engineering Department and Education School, a community college, and Charlottesville Public Schools,
particularly I think it’s Buford Middle School.
They’ve had a downward spiral
in enrollment for decades, but all of a sudden, Education, Engineering, and community college come together to teach STEM
skills to kids in the middle grades. The first time you see an uptick in families who wanted to stay in the system, particularly
middle-class families. Number two, parents are saying, wow, my kid’s coming home asking a lot of different questions
I didn’t know. And all of a sudden, private school families who would have gone private are now looking public.
So here is a way -- and it wasn’t a radically, you know, input of money. I think we gave them 150,000 startup grant.
But now other school systems are doing the same thing with colleges. The federal government could look at something like
that and say here’s a competitive grant to keep going or to expand it in your state.
SECRETARY DUNCAN:. We’re not good at stopping things. There’s not enough money
for education. We spend I think 7- to $9 billion a year on textbooks that are basically obsolete the day they show up
in your classroom. We push very hard to move from print to digital. I’ve challenged 15,000 districts, laboratories
of innovation, BUTwe probably have 10 that have moved from print to digital. Could we put out some significant
incentives to move away from paper to devices?
MS. AWAD: Thanks.
Aida Awad, Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow and a geoscientist by training. I come from a school district that was
one of those 48 districts that was able to provide one-to-one for students.
SECRETARY DUNCAN: Which district? MS. AWAD: District 207, suburban Chicago. SECRETARY DUNCAN: What’s
the town. MS. AWAD: Main Township.
And also a district that
worked very hard to promote STEM education. And I’m wondering what kind of agenda we might hear related to increasing
STEM educators and their preparation? MR. WEST: Adding the arts.
SNYDER: Neil Snyder with the American Speech-LanguageHearing Association. Just wondering what might school choice look
like for students with disabilities…..
I’m Mitzi Wertheim with the Naval Postgraduate School, so you might ask why am I here? John Dewey was my godfather.
What I’m struck by is with these very complex issues --
and, by god, they are -- we don’t have people who are able and willing to tell the story so the non-expert understands
how tough they are. Boy, is that hard. It’s, you know, the difference when having to write a paper for the President
or writing a 60-page paper when you’re in college. It’s much tougher to do that.
But I think the government, portions of the government, should take on explaining things so non-experts
get it. And if there’s some good examples, they ought to know what those are; if there are some that aren’t.
It turns out that preschool teachers in San Francisco earn
$32,000 a year, it is the second richest city in the world. I happen to think the most important years are from birth
through 12th grade when all the neurological and intellectual pathways get built, and the emotional ones. I think the amount
-- I know this is heretical, but I think spending $200,000 for a Ph.D. and only $32,000 for someone who’s really
creating human beings, our pay systems are out of whack.
think that’s something. I’m asking you to find people who will explain it to the general public, so they’re
not just angry, but they know these are some of the things we need to work on.
MR. WEST: Arne, I’m going to let you tackle that one. We’re in the position of trying to
use this bully pulpit, which is a theme of our conversation so far. How can we do a better job?
SECRETARY DUNCAN: So I’ll, unfortunately, answer poorly because we struggle to do a better
job with this. And for me, my greatest wish for the country is if people actually voted on education. And I could actually
care less, left, right, R, D, no one votes -- Trump didn’t get elected on education. Hillary didn’t lose on
education, governors. None of us vote -- and again, there’s no one, right left, no one has a monopoly on good ideas.
Education and educators are undervalued across the board.
And so that’s -- let me try and answer it a better way. I think what came through in this election was a huge amount
of angst which is very real. And if we can turn that angst into, okay, the way my kids are going to have a better life,
the way I’m going to have a better life is through better education at every level -- early childhood, K to 12, higher
ed, we didn’t even talk about adult ed, which is a big one -- if we had more folks voting, left, right, Republican,
conservative, it doesn’t matter, if we had more folks voting on this issue and holding politicians accountable
-MS. WERTHEIM: But nobody explains it so they figure out they need
SECRETARY DUNCAN: So we need to get better at that.
MR. ROBINSON: And a federal secretary isn’t the only person
we need to explain it. It should be the state chief as well as your superintendent doing that work. And there’s ways
of getting it done. I’ve done it.
MS. WERTHEIM: And
the media has failed us