Yesterday college-age interns from Congressional offices heard Arne Duncan speak about his journey to becoming Secretary, as well as his vision about the future of education in America. He spoke as part of the Congressional Intern Lecture Series and talked about his personal educational background and his appreciation for the efforts of educators in his life, including his parents.
After his brief speech, he opened up the floor for questions. One intern asked Duncan about Reed College, which withdrew the offer of admission for kids who could not afford their tuition and accepted in their place those who were able to pay. Duncan reiterated that the Department was working with an unprecedented amount of funds for all ages—early childhood, K-12, and higher education—and it is his goal to make college education more affordable with equal access for all social classes. He drove home one of his central ideas: “Education should have nothing to do with politics.”
The theme throughout his speech and Q and A was one of giving back to the community. Candidly, he addressed the interns and reminded them that they have not only great opportunities, but also great responsibilities to fellow Americans. “I am focused on closing the opportunity gap more than the achievement gap,” Arne insisted. “Education is the dividing line between the haves and the have-nots.”