Duncan and Senators Call for Education Reform

Arne Duncan speaks to the media about the need for reform

Earlier this morning Secretary Arne Duncan joined a group of moderate Democratic Senators at Walker Jones Education Campus in Washington, DC to tour the K-8 school and call for education reform.

The group of Senators included Kay R. Hagan (D-N.C.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Thomas Carper (D-Del.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.).  The Senators and four of their colleagues—Senators Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.) have agreed on a set of principles for moving forward this year on a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

“We know the results of doing nothing, and they are catastrophic,” said Senator Bennet. “The time for bold action is now.”

Secretary Duncan explained that a major goal of reauthorization is to “raise the bar” for college and career ready standards, but also to empower great teachers, great principals and great local communities:

“They know their children much better than we [in Washington] do,” said Duncan. “We can’t begin to micromanage 95,000 schools from Washington, and we don’t want to.  Frankly, we want to reduce the federal footprint.”

He also noted that Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and House Committee on Education and the Workforce (E&W) Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.), as well as HELP Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and E&W Ranking Member George Miller (D-Calif.), are working hard on an ESEA reauthorization bill and that he would continue to work with Congress in a bipartisan way to fix the law this year.

In discussing the principles that the Senators presented, Senator Lieberman noted that “these principles are not Democratic or Republican.  They are not Liberal or Conservative.  They’re just consistent with our natural American values.”

More information on ESEA reauthorization can be found at the Department of Education’s “A Blueprint for Reform” page.


  1. On March 8th, Diane Ravitch gave a stimulating presentation on the “Future of Public Education” to a crowd of close to 1000 at the Union Theater and to more than 360 livestream viewers. The Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters is pleased to announce that Ravitch’s presentation is now available online. Click here to view the Ravitch program.

    Ravitch, the “best living historian of education” (Washington Post) and America’s “soberest, most history-minded education expert” (Wall Street Journal), analyzed the current state of American education—what’s broken and what are the best ways to fix it. The event was sponsored by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, the UW–Madison School of Education, and the Wisconsin Center on Education Research, with support from the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) and the UW–Madison Lectures Committee.

    Diane Ravitch’s talk was the first of three presentations in the Wisconsin Academy’s March series on “Education is Fundamental” which brings together leading historians, researchers, and administrators in the field of education to discuss the most important educational challenges facing Wisconsin. We just secured funding to livestream the talks on March 22 and March 29 so please join us in person at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art lecture hall, 221 State Street in Madison or online for the livestream. Click here for more details on the “Education is Fundamental” series.

  2. My family goes many generations back as teachers and administrators here in the United States of America. I believe the federal government needs to leave the task of financial support and curriculum development be left to each State of the Union and local School Boards. Their communities need to be more responsible for the decisions of the School District. I am in favor of vouchers for each “school age” child that allows the parents or guardians to make the choice of where the funds will go to educate their children! I have taught along side many very incompetent and unprofessional colleagues who are protected by the local, state, and national unions. We have allowed colleges and universities to graduate individuals without competence in various areas of teacher proficiency! Many beginning educators have proven to be unfit to teach due to lack of ability in manageing a classroom, incompetent knowledge of the subject, or inability to communicate to individuals within the community. These necessary skills or principles do not even touch the heart of the issue! There are too many teachers who are teaching due to their own “ego trip” or “heartless” responsibility to educate their students. A great teacher does not teach subjects ,she/he teaches children!! And many individuals in administrative positions of local, state, and federal education departments appear to be incompetent teachers, so they become bosses! For many years I have seen the best teachers stay in the classroom, retire, or simply quit. They move on to another occupation due to their many talents! We continue to believe politicians and government departments can improve the education system. It is not the money that is needed. Too much is already wasted!!! No more is needed to fund our schools!!! You do not need a fancy school to teach a child how to enjoy learning!!! This I have learned from my father!!! And he was just one of many great teachers I was blessed to have in my “school days”. Real teachers don’t cry and bellyache about planning periods and vacation time. Nor do they expect salaries that put them equal or above others in their communities. Parents were and should be held responsible. Quality Education Responsibility should not be placed entirely with the Teacher, Principal, or School System. Our legal system should be the driving force to improve our demented schools and discipline problems. I tolerated no unruly behavior in my classroom and I have received much appreciation from others who were my students and are now as my community friends and neighbors! We have crumbled the true meaning of what an exceptional teacher is in our society. And we can thank the Federal Department of Education, our Leaders, and our President for these failings!!! Guess who gets the “F” today!
    David E. Morgan

  3. NCLB….No child left behind. If you don’t revise this program. You will have to Change it to ACLB All the children left behind. Please revise this program so there is a certain amount of success.

  4. This is what I see, we have to go to a dual education model if our children are going to succeed in the Global market. Other countries seem to do better than us because they have a dual education model. We test ALL of our students, it seems as if they test the Academic students only. If we test all our student then the results are faulty because there is a false measure of success on the part of other countries. I know that Revision is coming up soon can you keep teachers and students in mind when you revise. Some of our students have given up and some of them it takes all night to do work so that they get a C. Please Keep us (teachers and Students) in MIND when you revise.

  5. I agree with Secretary of State Arnie Duncan,the time is now to reauthorize NCLB.Not only has it been detrimental towards thousands of educators,and students.Articles across the Nation clearly point out how NCLB has placed a harsh label on educators such as myself as being “Non-Compliant”, or “Highly Qualified.” I humbly ask that the lawmakers, and politians in Washington D.C. take into account my concern. As an educator I am trying to work towards one major goal and that’s to Close the Achievement Gap.Please reauthorize NCLB it is our hope for the future.

  6. I agree with Secretary of State Arnie Duncan, that the time is now to reauthorize NCLB.It has been detrimental towards thousands of educators, and students across the Nation. I have read numerous articles that point out how NCLB has place a harsh label on educators such as myself as being “Non-Compliant, or Highly Qualified.I just ask that the lawmakers, and politicians that into account the concerns of educators on what has been affective in trying to meet the same goal and which is utitilizing the proper tools to Close the Achievement Gap.

  7. I feel that the Republicans should not include provissions in the budget regarding the Department of Education. Leave it up to the individual states and local school boards.

  8. This is my 44th yr in education. I have seen changes left to right through the years. “Ain’t” no way the DC politicians are going to keep their hands out of “American Public Education”. Long ago you promised to pay 40% of the total cost to fund Mandated Special Education under Public Law 94-142. You never paid the full 40%, leaving the local districts to fend for themselves. You reimburse about 17% for special education. then you come along with NCLB again micrommanaging out of DC. DC politicians have no clue as to the needs of public education in America. You place all students under “one umbrella” and then tell the states by 2014 every single student must meet the “punitive” nature of NCLB.

    Why are you in DC trying to control local education when no one in DC has been in the trenches like I and many other educators, etc have been?

  9. Education reform is not about reading a few books to young kids for a media event or a photo op.

    So far, Obama or Bush have done nothing to get good math and science teachers into the classrooms. All of their efforts have been about directing more money and resources to state departments of education, school district administrators and “teachers-of-the-year.” None of these further real education in mathematics or the sciences in our nation’s schools.

  10. I think You need to stop “For Profit Schools”… I don’t think that it is in are best interest to set the public up to pay 10 times the price for education. It will the “Next Disaster ” There is nothing like a real school with Experience

  11. Here’s bold action for ya: eliminate the department of education from the budget. I’d rather see the tax money collected at the local level. And spent where it was collected.

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