Secretary Duncan to Hold #AskArne Twitter Town Hall

The Department of Education announced today that Secretary Arne Duncan will participate in the first-ever #AskArne Twitter Town Hall on August 24, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. EDT. Veteran education journalist John Merrow will moderate the town hall that will also be broadcast live on ED’s ustream channel.

Beginning today, Twitter users can submit questions to the Secretary using the hashtag #AskArne.

The Department of Education uses several Twitter accounts to share information and converse with the education community and the American people. For general news and information about ED, follow @usedgov. To keep up-to-date with Secretary Duncan, follow @ArneDuncan. Justin Hamilton, ED’s Press Secretary, can can be found at @EDPressSec, and Massie Ritsch, Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs and Outreach, shares information and converses with stakeholders, teachers and parents at @ED_Outreach.

Click here for a complete list of ED’s Twitter accounts.


  1. Yes there should realize the opportunity to RSS commentary, quite simply, CMS is another on the blog.

  2. It is so crucial that Deaf children acquire a language so they could learn about the world -mainly through American Sign Language (ASL). Deaf children have the opportunity to be bilingual. Do not allow our Deaf learners fall short of the education they deserve just because budget shortfalls are forcing difficult decisions to be made. To disregard “ASL” is like forcing Mexicans to stop speaking Spanish. It just cannot be morally done. Please advocate for the betterment of educating Deaf children as American Sign Language is their birthright language.

  3. After reading your comments, on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, about the role of the Office for Civil Rights, I filed a complaint against the California School for the Deaf as they have very different admission policies for students with disabilities above and beyond deafness. They would not help me despite the fact that the courts have repeatedly found against CSD on this issue. When will someone with authority finally tear down this shameful wall of discrimination and tell CSD once and for all that they must comply with Title II of the ADA or lose their funding? They are not above the law.

  4. Why hasn’t NCLB been repealed? Why are non-educators making educational policy? Why do we allow people who have never taught school, aren’t educated to teach school and don’t know how a school functions to create policies for teachers and students? Why are you, as Secretary of Education, putting the emphasis on teachers when the problem of low achievement levels have several variables of which we have no control? And why can’t you emphasize the need for parent responsibility?

    • Amy, I’m not sure we would want to “repeal” NCLB if it meant wiping out the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which was an excellent attempt to “strengthen and improve” educational opportunities for the “educationally deprived.”

      As far as “non-educators,” you’d have to define that for me. All teachers are educators but not all educators are teachers.

      NCLB dictating the direction of education is “the law” of the land. Congress is directly responsible for NOT doing their job 4 years ago in re-writing or reverting it. CONGRESS is not being held accountable to the people. It isn’t the Sec. of Ed or the presidents job to write law. Congress should be the target of all our frustrations with NCLB.

      Parental responsibility? Or parental education and true engagement?

      We are going to view things differently depending on our perspectives. My children were “educationally deprived” because of the systemic failures of our state and local education agencies. That’s where I’m coming from. The feds should have been here to responsibly serve and protect these children in my district. If you are from a highly preforming district, under the original ESEA, the feds would have no business telling you what to do.

      Highly preforming needs defining as does the goal of the American education “system.”

  5. My 5th grade child spent 16 days in public school taking various standardized tests last year. What are you going to do about that?

  6. Why is it that the Dept. of Ed is not reviewing civil rights complaints and really penalizing school systems, especailly in the South, for discrimminating against children who have mental illnesses and learning disabilities? Services are being withheld or children end up in processes that begin the interventions but, the children fall thru the cracks. Then symptoms related to their disabilities are considered to be discipline issues and the children get suspended and/or expelled but, not helped by the school system.

  7. How can organizations like AVANCE help bridge the gap and seek funding from the private sector so that the state and federal governments no longer have to carry the burden of supportoing education in America?

  8. 1. In at-risk neighborhoods, what ways of formal or informal assessment methods may be utilized to identify the educational and developmental needs of children and families?

    2. AVANCE, Inc. has been educating both parents and teachers for nearly 40 years and has seen generational successes. Parents are a child’s first teacher and their home is the child’s first classroom, yet the financial burden on today’s at-risk families makes this formula for increased educational attainment all but impossible. What can or is being done to instill this “parents first” model into all communities nationwide and relive the financial burdens hampering so many parents?

    3. Most early education (EE) programs do a great job of preparing kids 0-5 for school. How can EE programs build better relationships with the school district they offer their services in, to ensure a smooth transition into pre-k and Kindergarten?

  9. Aside from a vague promise that new Common Core tests will be “better tests,” what specifically will you do to decrease the amount of and emphasis on standardized testing in the US?

    You were responsible for marginalizing parent-majority elected, empowered local school councils in Chicago and replacing them with administration-appointed advisory bodies. Beyond proposing an increase in federal parent involvement funds, which will be wasted if spending is not monitored or evaluated, how will you support a stronger parent voice in school decision making, which is an essential component of any effective parent involvement program?

    As a parent, it concerns me that you have demanded that states expand charter schools, increase standardized testing overall, tie teacher jobs to test scores, and turn around schools by firing half or more of the staff, when the overwhelming body of evidence – including that of the research arms of the federal government – is clear that these strategies do not improve academics overall and can have serious negative effects on children and their education. How do you justify promoting such irresponsible policies, and when will you begin to listen to educators and researchers, who are clearly the key experts in this field, and to parents, who are simply trying to protect our children from bad policy making?

  10. Are there any training or education programs that address how teachers or administrators can become change agents in their schools?

    • There is proposed legislation “Lead Act” by Gary Ratner that addresses the attempt to build leadership “capacity” to turn around under performing schools.
      In the re-write of NCLB, it could become part of it. Ask you representative.

  11. Mr. Secretary, why, with all this mess in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, and many other states, do you not say anything about what Republicans are doing to ruin education in this country? What is your role? Ohio is in chaos with the governor going after teachers to blame for our economic problems. From what I heard about you in Chicago I believe that you are for privatizing schools. I am not a fan of this Race to the Top, I am a fan of educating children . You were holding a contest while Rome burned. How about speaking up in support of education, or am I mixed up as to the purpose of the Department of Education?

  12. Mr. Duncan,

    I would like to know if you are going to protect the TRIO programs? I am a TRIO alumni, and I hold a B.S. degree and a full-time job. I could not have made it through college without the help of Student Support Services that provided math tutoring for me. I am now the Tutorial Coordinator for a SSS program in rural Southwest Virginia. I stronly suggest that you save our TRIO programs. The only way out of poverty is through educations. Many of our participants need the extra help that TRIO offers.

  13. Why is this mtg being held when so many of the primary stakeholders , teachers, are unable to participate due the fact that they are teaching ?

  14. Whether it be local or national
    If you have any fame to your name
    Realize that our educational woes aren’t due to teachers and schools
    But that society’s attitude toward public ed. is to blame.
    PLEASE use your influence
    So America’s SURE TO WIN this game.


    When ALL of us EXPECT RESPECT of public education from both our schools and our own selves, it’s quite clear America’s schools will become the world’s BEST. If two minds are better than one just imagine what will be achieved for our schools when ALL of our school boards team with our various education reform groups, educators, and America’s public! TEAM E CUBED ALLIANCE – EXPECTING EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE. 🙂

  15. Why are you asking for questions instead of acknowledging problems and surveying stakeholders for solutions?

  16. Public education was started to create an equal playing field for all children, and to educate them on how to be engaged, knowledgeable citizens, in addition to being literate. Now that we have taken a functional, socialist system and forced it to start to work as a capitalist system, the equality is gone. The public school system nationwide belongs to the public – it was a sacred trust. Who gave Washington bureaucrats the right to sell what belongs to the people? We own the land, buildings, books, computers, furniture and buses that we call schools. Show me where we agreed to sell all of that to the highest bidder? And whose idea was it to scrub civics, government, history, and the arts from the curriculum?

    • We the People gave our representative the “right” to do what they have done. We the People have not been too vigilant, have we?

  17. I have been an educator for nearly four decades at both the elementary school level, the college level, and the professional adult level. I am so disappointed in the heavy emphasis on testing and the new Race to the Top program. The change I had hoped for is not the change I see. Instead we are changing for the worse instead of for the better. This approach has been tried before and has already failed. There is a place for formative and summative assessment, but it is way out of balance right now. Formative assessments are what good teachers use all day long. Summative assessments should not be so highly emphasized. Effective education is based on research based best practice and requires a passionate, committed, creative teacher who inspires her students to learn and grow. I am discouraged that people who have spent little time in the classroom are making decisions that will impact on all students and teachers in an unhealthy way. Often, those decision makers are people who spent only a few years in the classroom and wanted to move away from the classroom setting. Many of these individuals lacked the endurance and stamina and passion for teaching and yet they are making choices that have a negative impact on our students. Decisions should be made by intelligent, committed, passionate and caring adults who know from decades of experience what works and what is not effective. Those adults have a vested interest in success because it is their life’s work. It is upsetting that our leaders in government are not seeking answers from these people. I see that test makers and publishers are out to make a great deal of money because of the emphasis on testing. Sadly, that money will not go to enhance the education of our students. It is a challenging time for real educators. May we all join in the conversation to save our children.

    • Bravo! Thank you, Jane, for your thoughtful, reasoned, researched comments. Will Secretary Duncan, please, respond.

      • I hear you and have listened to teachers and supported them in my own local reform efforts for 20 years without their “public” support or any financial rewards. I wholeheartedly agree with all that is said here about testing but I have to ask,

        where were the teachers when testing came down on us through state laws back in the 90’s?

        It was as wrong for children then as it now but teachers just put their heads down and did it….you begin to die the day you don’t stand up for what is right. And here we are, do teachers want to become a true profession or work in a trade?

  18. Mr. Secretary:

    In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on this country to “spark the creativity and imagination of our people,” and to “out-educate and out-innovate the rest of the world.” Students in the fine and performing arts programs in schools throughout this nation are in the pipeline, ready to take on the challenge.

    Communities are very proud and supportive of their arts programs. These students excel not only in the arts, but academically. Many of them are in the top ten or twenty of their graduating classes, and on the honor roll.

    If the arts are listed as a “Core Requirement” under NCLB, please help the arts education community and stop forcing local communities to cut what they still refer to as “extras”.

  19. Mr. Secretary, why are you trying to privatize public education? Is it because you have a misplaced faith in the private sector, or is it because your buddies in the “education” industry have contributed heavily to the re-election campaign? What makes you think a group of billionaires knows anything about how children learn? Why is it that all your people are linked to anti-union studies and efforts? Why do your children and the Obama’s children attend private schools? Do you see public schools as a captive market for capitalist expansion? Do you think we are stupid, Mr. Secretary?

  20. Why won’t you resign Mr. Duncan? Linda Darling-Hammond should be the Education Secretary. You are one reason that I will not vote for, work for, or donate to Obama again.

  21. I think it would be beneficial to note that we have many structural and systemic problems in our education system. Unions should obviously exist, but not in a legalized and overprotective form. Furthermore, we need to draw talented individuals from higher education into the teaching profession. To do this, we need to make teaching a very esteemed profession. Finland was able to do this over a period of a decade and now scores significantly better than the U.S. in assessments.

    To see how the U.S. stacks up against the educational systems around the world visit:

    I think the worth of an excellent teacher to the world is almost incalculable for the number of lives they touch. It should be some of the best and brightest going into teaching — the question is how can we make this happen?


  22. are u aware of the 25 percent juice that the collection company places on defaulted loans. also the fact that they are impossible to work with and are bullies. i lost my job with a kid on the way in 2008 when the economy went down. well, i defaulted on my student loan, id much rather have my lil girl go to bed with a full stomach everynight, keep in mind, i knew i would have to pay back the loan that the department of education gave me. however, when the time came i had to speak to this third party collection agency who would not work with me at all. to make a long story short, wages were garnished and i was paying 15 percent of my check, 600-800 every two weeks to pay back this loan. when i figured the loan was close to being finished i called and found out that i still owed 25 percent of the total loan amount for this rude and offensive collection agency for their acquisition fee, basically just for them to garnish my wages. well, after that i figured whatever, at least i would be done with the department of education, WRONG. this last check on the 15th of august, i owed a total of 220 dollars, i was garnished 890 because my employer didnt received a letter saying the pay off was almost complete. now, you all have 670 of my hard earned dollars, and the soonest i will receive that money is in 60 days according to your “help line” for defaulted loans. i should be able to charge intrest on that “loan” to you guys, so what do you say, about 920 after all fees and my acquistion fees, due to me in 60 days?

    • Hi Quinn,

      Feel free to contact ED’s Federal Student Aid Ombudsman’s Office. The Ombudsman’s Office helps resolve disputes and solve other problems with federal student loans. The site is at: You can also call and talk to a Federal Student Aid counselor at 1-877-557-2575.

      Cameron Brenchley
      Office of Communications and Outreach

  23. I am a tutor that works with SES students. The parents are worried that the Department of Education is going to lift the requirements for SES tutoring. Secretary Duncan, could you please give these parents some reassurance that the Department of Education will continue to support the parents with SES tutoring?

    • Thanks for your input Dena. We will consider your comment as we work to finalize the details of the flexibility package.

      Cameron Brenchley
      Office of Communications and Outreach

  24. Do all American parents have the right to opt their children out of state tests per Prince V Mass, or is it a state by state issue? #AskArne

    What qualifies you to be Secretary of Education? You are not credentialed, you have no education degree, you never taught school. #AskArne

    Why does the NAEP, when disaggregated, show an almost 1 to 1 correlation between SES and academic success? #AskArne

    Charter schools cream their students by default-passively. Is that going to re-segregate our schools? #AskArne

    Why can charter schools hold kids to higher behavior standards, and then boot them for failing to meet them? #AskArne

    Did you know Geoffrey Canada once kicked out an entire class just to raise his graduation numbers? #AskArne

    Are impoverished kids stifled from birth, or does their Kindergarten teacher make them forget their letters and numbers? #AskArne

    Did you know that the name “KIPP” comes from this: “Knowledge is Power. Power is Money. I want it.”? #AskArne

    Should trad. pub. schools be able to boot misbehaving kids and send them to the neighborhood charter, and keep the $$? #AskArne

    VAM developed for agriculture industry. Developers caution against using it for teachers, say it can’t do job. Why u support it? #AskArne

    Do you have an advanced degree of any kind, or just a Bachelor’s? #AskArne

  25. I keep hearing about new programs and before I get too excited where is the money going to come from? How can we keep education funds from being cut from the budget?
    Also what is being done to provide better education and training for teachers?
    Thank you.

  26. I am the director of an SES in-home tutoring company. Our organization has worked for several years to build efficiencies, hire certified teachers, and improve our systems based on best practices. Our rates have been every year to offer students more in-home tutoring for their money. Because of this hard work, our organization has been able to produce positive gains for the school districts. If SES tutoring is working in many cases, the parents and students desperately need our help, why do we hear talk of eliminating through waivers this vital support? Should SES tutoring be decided by Congress?

    • Sorry…our rates have been reduced every year to offer students more in-home tutoring for their money.

    • Thank you Andrew for sharing this comment. As we finalize the details of the flexibility package we will take your input into consideration.


      • Thanks for your response. I hope Secretary Duncan takes into consideration that many SES providers are doing a good job under the many hurdles that providers must go through to simply service low-income students. From my many years of operating as an SES tutoring organization, I have come to the conclusion that many schools districts will only do the minimum to support SES tutoring. I understand that budgets and the 20% set aside has caused this minimum support, but I do not believe it has been in the best interest of the low-income students that SES targets. I do understand that Secretary Duncan has experience with tutoring organizations. If this is the case, Secretary Duncan knows that tutoring does much more than eliminates skill gaps; tutoring in many cases places a positive role model and mentor in the lives of students. SES tutoring needs to be changed to build on the work that has been completed. Waving the requirement or eliminating it totally will not benefit the low-income students who need it, and it will not build on the quality and efficiencies that many providers have worked to achieve. Thanks for your time, and I hope my tutors, parents, and students in my community will continue to receive the Department of Education, Secretary Duncan, and Obama’s support.

  27. Mr. Duncan,

    Your approach to education is no different from the many administrators who I have dealt with in my 18 years in the education profession. There is no disagreement with the end goal of the DOE, however the means to get there has not changed one iota since I entered the profession. Administrators have discussed numerous ways to improve student achievement, such as providing remedial classes during the school day to help students who are “falling through the cracks.” (in essence two math courses for students who are struggling in math, or a and English course and a reading literacy course for students who are not up to grade level However, despite all the talk of these reforms within the school, not a single one has lasted for more than two years and were eventually cut in favor of more AP courses. (which I do not have a problem with). But you can’t cut one to save another. There should be curriculum in place that meets the needs of “ALL” students and I’m just not seeing it. I would rather see an emphasis on helping schools to provide these types of courses (through funds supplied by the DOE/federal grants), then to reward schools who have already achieved significant gains. These are not the schools or the students that need the help. Your Race to the Top looks more like a Race To The Bottom, when only a few states are helped where others are left behind. This approach is no different then what I have seen in all my years of education.

  28. Abundant, accessible evidence proves that America’s schools are not failing or failed. This nation and this administration should be combating the ongoing culture war that allows misinformation but more important, poverty, hunger, and homelessness to oppress our future and impede learning. Strip away impoverished students from the testing pool and discover that U. S. students run neck and neck with students from other parts of the world. The problem with U. S. schools is a nation without a will to nurture all citizens and a nation willing to be deaf and blind to the increasing numbers of children living in homes with incomes below the poverty line. This is also a racist nation with few to fight for those oppressed. Finally, this nation is also guilty of opportunism: employers who look for cheaper labor pools, wealthy individuals selling products that suit online learning, companies trolling for big pots of money to tap for investment. The DOE should lead the fight against the class and race war with teachers as the bull’s eye on the target. What, Mr. Duncan, will you stand for? Teachers or billionaires? The future or power plays? Public schools or insulated schools? Equal opportunities for excellence or unequal opportunities for the status quo?

    • I agree with you on all your comments. True, how much longer will teachers have to endure the bullying they get from administrators that are inefficient themselves?

      • Evidence? Proof?

        There has never been equal educational opportunity in this country. Access to quality was not a possibility where I live under my circumstances. The country has lived with inequality for so long that they are blind to it.

        The current Department of Education was developed to serve (among other things) the purpose of ensuring access to equal educational opportunity. The DOE should be asked to do their job BUT Congress must be asked (or forced) to do theirs and re-write NCLB NOW. And I would add that they should revert back to the original goal – “to strengthen and improve educational quality and educational opportunity”… then we could get back on the “right” track.

  29. No one talks about on-line charter schools. They get funding on a per pupil basis. Who is monitoring the quality of this kind of education? Whenever a profit motive is introduced, you can be assured that student learning will take a back seat. Instructors are incentivized to keep as many students as possible enrolled which translates to income for the school. Where is the assurance that this kind of education has positive outcomes? Students may walk away with a diploma, but how prepared are they to handle higher learning or enter decent careers? The problem is, no one is tracking these kinds of outcomes.

  30. Why do you continue to push charters on the public when a recent Stanford study exposed charters as failures? [17% of charters performed better than public schools. 83% did not. (17% better, 37% worse, 46% same)]

  31. How about some accountability for home-schooled children. While I am aware that some educators do home school, I am increasingly aware of the fact that many individuals home school in order to side-step information they deem contradictory to their religious and political dogmas. Educators should never push an agenda, they should teach curriculum. This is as true for the classroom teachers as it is for home school teachers. I bring this up because an individual running for the presidency this year is touting a book from a home school curriculum that presents the civil war as a religious struggle against the godless north. EEEK!

  32. Since education ‘reform’ began in earnest more than ten years ago, we have spent billions on high-stakes tests. By the time the “new and improved” (yet unproven) tests are implemented, we will have spent billions more—all to tell us what we already know:
    -Schools with less than ten percent of their students living in poverty outscore every other nation on international tests
    -Schools with poverty rates of 80% or higher score very low on international tests

    Perhaps the billions spent on testing could be funneled to something that is actually effectual:
    -We know that reducing class size is one of four K-12 reforms backed by rigorous evidence [according to the Institute of Educational Science (Research arm of the DOE)] to improve learning
    -We know that providing prenatal health care to poor women has an effect on the number of children born with learning disabilities

    Are you ready to put an end to needless and damaging high-stakes testing?

  33. Gee, lots of teachers will be able to watch. Wait, they’re teaching at 1:30 EDT (for all time zones).

  34. Don’t you believe it was misleading of President Obama to use Stanford education professor Linda Darling-Hammond to advise him on education policy during his candidacy, and then appoint you, an old basketball buddy with no background in teaching, as secretary of education?

  35. I agree with Sonja. Also, to hold this Twitter Town Hall at 1:30 P.M. is a guarantee that many in the education community will be unable to attend…we’ll be with children!

  36. Where is the research that shows that high stakes testing is designed to evaluate an individual students performance and progress from one year to the next year has any valid correlation to teacher performance? There is NONE!! You are selling Barrack Obama down the drain by pushing your education accountability through high stakes testing and any other politician that is so foolish to do this disconnected evaulation of children/teens and educators.

    • We need to remember that the Standards, Testing, Accountability Movement started back in the 80’s. It isn’t the current administration’s idea. You are right, there is no proof that standards and testing improve the quality of education. Our own country’s research has proven back in the 30’s that it narrows curriculum and leads to teaching to the test (duh, right?). But we did it again.

      The presidents councils on education in the ’60’s stated that standardized tests better assessed a child’s access to learning opportunities.

      Now, we need to push the reset button. Take a deep breath and think our way out of this mess…and it is a mess but the great hope in all this is….IF we listen to one another, We have the answers.

  37. What a waste of time, especially for minorities. The American educational system is over…It is time to seriously revamp the whole setup!

  38. Please get rid of all the fraudulent for profit schools. Do not continue to pamper for profit schools like you pampered Computer Learning Centers (all 23 campuses) while they were defrauding students and apparently investors and taxpayers as well while you were handing them the dollars. How could congress have created those horrible laws to protect those fraudulent for profits schools and their money lending banks like citi bank. Shame on all of you for having done nothing to protect the students’ interest. You knew that computer learning centers were crooks and yet you lend them tax payers money and trapped the students into a debt for a worthless nothing of an education. SHAME ON CONGRESS! SHAME ON THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION! SHAME ON CITI BANK! SHAME ON EDFUND

  39. Tweet “Fully fund IDEA!” and “add parent training funding component to IDEA!”. Our students with disabilities are consistently left behind. Oh, and let’s dismantle NCLB while we’re at it. Get rid of the test-taking industry and allow academics to determine curriculum and educational policy. More oversight on charters that practice exclusive enrollment and leave behind our students with disabilities and English Language Learners while taking public funds away from regular public schools that take ALL children.

    • I agree with you completely. I spent 30 years working with children with disabilities. Funding was never enough. You are so right about the testing situation. I totally agree with your comments about charters. They can be exclusive private schools! Thank you for your insights.

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