Want to #AskArne a Question? Tweet Today

The response to ED’s first-ever #AskArne Twitter Town Hall has been overwhelming. The questions and comments on Twitter are rolling in, and Arne looks forward to addressing the important issues you’ve raised.

If you still have a question for Arne, it isn’t too late to ask. The Twitter Town Hall begins at 1:30 p.m. EDT, and you can watch it live on ED’s official ustream channel. Veteran education journalist John Merrow will moderate the discussion based on your #AskArne questions from Twitter.

If you can’t watch the Twitter Town Hall live, don’t worry, your voice can still be heard by sending in your questions via Twitter using the hashtag #AskArne any time before the event. The Town Hall video will also be archived on our website, and check back to this blog for a summary of the #AskArne Twitter Town Hall.

Follow @ArneDuncan on Twitter, and click here to see all of ED’s social media accounts.


  1. I read in today’s news that Mr. Duncan thinks increasing teacher base pay is the way to recruit and retain the best teachers to the field of education. That’s a sweet fantasy that will never happen for financial reasons, and just political spin as far as I can tell. How about some real solutions?

    Think about this: if a teacher, who teaches the same courses and curriculum year after year, wants to make a move to find something new to teach to keep herself intellectually stimulated and keep those creative juices flowing, she is penalized. Think how BORING is it to talented and bright people to teach the same courses, year after year after year ad nauseum. If a teacher moves to another district for a chance to work with some new people or teach another grade or course, or just to prevent burn out, she goes all the way back to the bottom of the pay scale. This STINKS!

    This should not be hard to fix, but it is. If an experienced teacher, with advanced degrees in her subject area and/or in education applies to be a teacher in a new district, that experience is considered a detriment to her ability to get the job. The new district, trying to save money, will nearly always hire a brand new teacher with no advanced degree because the new teacher is CHEAPER.

    So put the money you are thinking of using for base pay, to create district level incentives to encourage teachers to move around (thereby giving up their tenure, which can be a good thing : keeps teachers on their toes), to stay stimulated, challenged, excited, and therefore more likely to engage her students.

    I cannot believe nobody else is talking about this very simple concept.

    Thank you!

  2. Dear Secretary Duncan,

    Thank you for your heartfelt dedication and service. Throughout your life, you’ve thrown yourself heart and soul into engaging with the challenges of today’s schools. You have a fabulous track record of tremendous accomplishments–whether increasing Chicago’s ACT scores to three times the national rate, doubling the city’s AP pass rate, or increasing her number of Board Certifications by over 100 times! Thank you for putting this same passion and energy into endeavoring to help our nation’s youth excel.

    This brings me to my questions:

    (1.) Thank you for defending the Pell Grant program to the Senate Appropriations Committee last month.

    http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/duncan-testifies-senate-committee-ed-budget > “Crushing” tuition costs (Obama 2010) make such a program all the more urgent. http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/under-secretary-martha-kanters-remarks-2010-aiea-conference> It’s facing a $20 billion shortfall next year–and the president has proposed giving the grant only to those people with the greatest need–presumably regardless of how well they’ve done in school. http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/2011/03/02/potential-cuts-to-pell-grant-could-affect-students-in-2011> But wouldn’t it make more sense for this monetary amount to be significantly contingent (via a revised disbursement formula) on the academic performance of low-income students (on a per-semester basis)? I’m a social studies educator with a psychology background; and according to a branch of research pioneered by Martin Seligman (past president of the American Psychological Association) among other notables, one powerful way to motivate students to achieve is to give them control over what they receive.

    (2.) As long as states write their own test measures to evaluate performance, what’s to stop them from successively ‘lowering the bar’ to maintain ‘adequate yearly progress’ (at least on paper) and thus continue to receive federal funds for flawed programs?

    (3.) Teachers such as myself who have endured physical assault by a student can testify that students have a responsibility to manage their own behavior. Thankfully, my school in this instance had tremendous administrative support, and they immediately sought to expel the student. However, not everybody can count on this quality of support. For instance, a teacher at another school explained to me how, under the former management, teachers simply could not count on the administration to back them up. For instance, a beloved teacher at that school was falsely accused by a vengeful, slanderous student of supposedly making a racist remark. It was a complete fabrication, but the person in question was fully exonerated in court, but had become so disillusioned with the total lack of administrative support that she retired early…a tragic loss. This is one illustration of how a good teacher can get chewed up and spit out by a system which, depending on the school, may blame the teacher for a student’s misbehavior. Classroom management skils can only take a class so far. The other half of the equation is that students themselves must behave responsibly and stay on task. Right now, teachers are evaluated (and paid) based on how well their students perform. The reality of teaching, however, is complicated by factors such as the student who, although having previously demonstrated she is quite capable of doing the work, explains to the teacher (who is willing to go above and beyond for her to help her excel and expand her horizons) that she knows she could get a much higher grade if she tried, but that she’s not going to do the classwork because she doesn’t “feel like it” and knows that doing well on the tests and quizzes will be sufficient to earn her a minimum passing grade. Basing pay purely on students’ final grades won’t take this into account. Alternatively, say a student – given the opportunity to learn (and quietly and unobtrusively handed a textbook open to the lesson’s chapter and page) – throws her textbook on the floor–threatening to throw it at the teacher if the book is given back. Shouldn’t the formula for teacher pay (along with the grade of the school itself) be weighted to automatically take into account the number of detentions or suspensions Student Affairs has, in their seasoned and balanced judgment, cumulatively issued for students in that class?

    (4.) Likewise, dedicated, caring professionals often “became teachers” because they wanted “to make a difference” (Duncan, 2011, “Letter to America’s Teachers”). Why discourage such people from taking on low-achieving classes (by slashing their pay if their students don’t perform perfectly–an unrealistic expectation)? Shouldn’t the formula reward teachers who whose students, retaking a course (on top of handling an already heavy course load), become admirably engaged and demonstrate dramatic improvement–such as jumping from a low F to a high C (borderline B) in their most challenging subject?

    (5.) We need to make it easier for local and regional stakeholders (such as parents) to evaluate schools. For instance, some schools recategorize remedial students by enrolling them in an Advanced Placement course (all together…in one classroom… detention classes were better behaved). I would like to see school websites nationally required to prominently feature a clear and direct link from their home page to an internal page of statistics detailing (along with other factors such as incidence and types of crime, both in the school

    http://www.schools-data.com/schools/> and in the surrounding neighborhood) the overall school grade, statewide test scores, and average student grades by subject area and teacher–along with a clear table of numeric data indicating exactly how well their students have done on last year’s AP exam. Will you institute a mandatory reporting policy with strictures that ensure such reports are made easily accessible to the public?

    (6.) Florida’s sensible and progressive Class Size Reduction Amendment

    http://www.fldoe.org/classsize/>, which applies to ‘core’ classes, should serve as a national model. I would prefer to see the amount of money spent on evaluating teachers be reallocated to equipping teachers with greater one-on-one instructional time, by hiring more teachers and reducing class size.

    (7.) The City Club of Chicago (congratulations on achieving, a few years ago, their Citizen of the Year award!) is a group characterized by “historic debates and enlightened analyses of…the most important policy issues of our times…the City Club provides an arena for function attendees to explore and exchange ideas…”

    https://www.cityclub-chicago.org/> I wish all of our students could experience this type of a social studies classroom! The burden of high stakes testing, however, constricts the time available for students to engage in meaningful dialogue and discourse. According to William Glasser and Gayle Gregory (2005), our students remember 70% of what they discuss, 80% of what they experience, and 95% of what they teach. However, administrative pressures to eliminate dialogue and ‘teach to the test’ (based on the role of test scores in determining school funding) can be a constraint. What will you do to ensure that high-stakes testing does not displace meaningful, research-based teaching styles–especially ones that reduce inequality and promote social justice (Duncan 2009)? http://www.ed.gov/blog/2011/08/education-is-social-justice/>

    (8.) President Obama, speaking at the Berlin Wall, talked about how “the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together” (Obama 2009)

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/07/24/politics/politico/main4291110.shtml>. According to Braskamp (2009), “educating students to be citizens of a global society” [merely] enhances the “essential learning and developmental goal” of fostering global perspective (Chickering & Braskamp 2009, “Peer Review,” p. 27). Global perspective, in the spirit of the proposals of Robert Hanvey (1976) http://www.globaled.org/an_att_glob_persp_04_11_29.pdf>, have historically included such dimensions as intercultural sensitivity (Bennett 1993), human development (Kegan 1994), faith development (Parks 2000), intercultural competence (Deardorff 2004), and intercultural maturity (King & Magolda 2005). http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CCkQFjAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fgpi.central.edu%2Findex.cfm%3FmyAction%3DOverview%26Save%3D2&ei=9l9VTuzfN8Oitge-xPCPAg&usg=AFQjCNEkeOn3LfsTCM6vxDevZ-To81hCHQ> Could integrating a cosmopolitan, global perspective throughout the curriculum (such as developing a mandatory “contemporary global affairs” course at the secondary level) be made a national priority?

    (9.) I realize that altering the educational landscape takes tact, timing, tolerance, political will, authority, and funding. As the Secretary of Education, you’ve taken the pulse of our educational establishment; and you have the opportunity to advise one of the most powerful persons on the planet. In your reasoned judgment – based on conversations with numerous stakeholders – is adoption of the educational philosophy of the International Baccalaureate Program (as a state-optional alternative to NCLB, on a state-by-state basis, for national funding) a theoretical possibility?

    (10.) Most urgently: A couple years ago, the most important component of our educational system – character education – was put on the chopping block and slated for subsumption into the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities National Activities program (as if the program were merely about drugs and safety!)–to save a paltry $11.9 million.

    http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget10/summary/edlite-section4.html#character> The American Psychological Association’s former president, Martin Seligman (who I’ve mentioned previously), in developing a positive converse of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, coauthored Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (2004)–a relatively noncontroversial, research-based book that could provide a starting point for developing a broad, bipartisan initiative http://books.google.com/books?id=QqPiF1C7cy4C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false>. Any chance civic virtue http://www.heritage.org/Research/Lecture/Building-a-Culture-of-Character> and character education http://www2.ed.gov/teachers/how/character/edpicks.jhtml?src=ep> could be reconstituted as the fundamental cornerstone of our curriculum nationwide?

    Respectfully appreciative,

    Ivan V. (M.Ed.)

  3. Our company is one of the State approved SES providers in more than 10 states. Whats will be the role of such providers under the Race to the Top program?


  4. I propose a nationwide campaign, using the ribbons with the loop and stating “Support our Teachers.” Just as we support our troops, we should recognize that teachers are on the front lines in the war against ignorance and complacency. When the nation is engaged in a war, and not winning, no one blames the soldiers, but rather, the fault lies with commanders, and our inability to support soldiers effectively. In like manner, our teachers need not be blamed for the deficiencies in the system. Are all teachers effective? Of course not, but neither are all soldiers, nor all workers in offices, etc. Why should we hold waging war in greater esteem than teaching?

  5. Tell everybody about the Comprehensive annual Financial Report that shows investments and profits that have been compounding for 40yrs.In general Gov.inc is a financial empire that holds 65% of real wealth.The taxpayers should be aware of this and good public servant would inform them if they loved their country.

  6. Education is never a waste although the life of expierience and observation into a tangible communication whether written or drawn should be valued as it were

  7. I am a special education teacher in a rural district. I would like to say that NCLB is hurting our students. We need to get back to the fundamentals of evaluating children on a variety of methods, rather than one cumulative test at the end of the year. Being a great test taker limits the student’s growth and we need to encourage more reasoning and problem solving skills, as well as create rigor in our core content areas. I hope the plan is to let NCLB go and re-work a plan that will push our students instead short changing them with bigger and longer tests. Remember, kids are not gingerbread cookies all cut from the same pattern. Education should be individualized!

  8. There seems to me something very wrong with assuming all students will learn and test them to standards and award them according to grades received and not take into consideration a world of consequence awaiting that individual. This country in general does a grate job in primary and secondary education for collage prep. but very little for different aptitudes like music, mechanical and spacial abilities. There also seems to be a very lax attitude to what becomes to students who drop out of school or can’t get a passing grade on standardized tests through no fault of their own.
    It is hard for those who find math difficult to find their chemistry and physics classes just another math class or their Spanish class is not going to teach them how to communicate in Spanish. These things need to be examined in detail to avoid drop outs and to provided alternatives for those on the margins of the system.

  9. Hello.

    I what to ask way was it that as a kid my self i was walked throw school. You see i was in special Education and was not given the help i need my self . 1500 moth i have read more than 25yr. i can tell you that am much peter now in reading. stop the cut the kid need the help i am just begin my self and a 45yr old man no one will stop me from learning some thing.

    Kevin Parker.

  10. Teacher evaluation in TN have increased form once in five years to 4-6 time per year virtually overnight in response to Race-to-the-Top. Where are administrators going to find all this new time?

    • Hi Shawn –

      We will have a captioned version of the video posted to our YouTube channel as soon as possible.

      Cameron Brenchley
      Office of Communications and Outreach

  11. Mr. Duncan,
    When is this country going to realize that Special Education needs to be overhauled instead of being cut when education budgets need cut. Every state I have lived in (thanks to the military) does the same thing when cutting education budgets…. Special Education gets hit. Special Education students have needs just as well as regular education students and yet monies are limited to Special Education. Special Education students need to be included with the regular education students, not only for their benefit, but for the benefit of the regular education students to learn from Special Education students. I am pursing my K-6 degree and then plan on getting a Master’s in Special of Education and plan on pursing to make a difference in our countries Special Education system. No family should have to be told that we do not have the funds for these services to service your child!!!!

  12. Secretary Duncan, how can our students compete effectively when schools are forced to close one half day a week due to cuts in their budgets?

  13. How do we attract the best and the brightest to teaching? Money? Change attitudes toward teaching? Or something else?

  14. When are they going to limit the power of the private lenders, like sallie mae, they are killing us by just rising the interest rates however they want cause if the student default they still get pay, we the need bankrruptcy for student loan back again, but of course it wont happen because the great piliticians that we have working for us, they have all their invesment in this matter, a person spend all his money on having fun, material stuffs, vacations, etc and is able to file chapter 7 but a student that went to school and after school cant find a job, cant file bankrruptcy, it is not fear! I have 3 kids and a wife and my student loan is 900 a month and i dont make 40thousand a year i dont even own a house and im 31, you guys have stop this mobs!

  15. When Researching schools, is the WASC accreditation more important than the Higher learnng? is one better to look for?

  16. Free tutoring for at risk students in at risk schools needs to be funded without the threat of waivers being filed and therefor spelling the demise of the free tutoring programs. Many of those who benefit greatly from this program come to school without the skills that are needed to be successful in school and free tutoring has proven to be a big boost in helping students improve learning outcomes.

    This type of program is exactly what you have been promoting to help underachieving schools and students-why are you allowing waivers when they might lead to the downfall of the program that works?

  17. Mr. Duncan, Are there plans to reduce or eliminate corporate influence in our public schools, through testing and materials contracts with corps like Microsoft, McGraw Hill, Pearson, etc, who make millions off our tax dollars for school funds, and shift the focus and locus of learning to our children and the teacher’s needs?

  18. Why are surviving family members of soldiers that die on active duty not exempt from out of state tuition fees? Why should the spouse or child be penalized because they did not live in the state of the school or university they would like to attend at the time of the service members death? After doing some research, I do know that there are some states that exempt surviving family member from paying out of state tuition fees. How can we get all the states to recognize that surviving family members need these exemptions? Although the Veterans Administrations educational benefits covers many college expenses for surviving family members, many times it is just not enough to cover out of state tuition fees. I, as well as many surviving family members, look forward to your response.

    • As they already receive nearly free tuition they obviously do not need to receive further money from the government. Not everything should be free. There is no current draft, therefore you chose your own fate. Just as teachers, firemen, police officers, miners, and the thousands of other people who are also risking their lives to support this nation and receive no such charity.

      • Monae some states already offer in state tuition fees for surviving family members that want to attend colleges and universities outside of where their soldier was last assigned. As a veteran myself, I find it insulting that you believe surviving family members are receiving “charity” from the government. I do not know what education benefits are available to “thousands of other who risk their lives to support this nation” but I would hope that there is something available for the children that would like to attend college some day. Are you someone that can address my original question or at least be willing to have a civilized discussion? If not, then no comment is required from you.

  19. when i submitted my comment – i learned that my comment is now “awaiting moderation” – take that to mean it will be screened for anything that is unacceptable to the Secretary. i trust my comments are acceptable. oh by the way, today they are announcing that 49,000 teachers were not laid off in Texas. rather, it was a total of 49,000 staff and teachers that were laid off. Arne needs to submit a retraction/correction – don’t you think Moderator-person?

  20. Arne, I was very disappointed to see/hear your comments about the state of Texas’ education performance. this was a pure political attack on the governor who seeks the GOP nomination for president. I also found your tone ‘feeling bad for the students of Texas’ [i paraphrase] do be such a smarmy, elitist kind of comment. But, reflecting on other public comments you have made I guess this is kind of normal for you. In the future, rather than entering the ‘political arena’ with these kinds of comments – may i request [as your citizen boss] that you use all of your tax payer paid for time to improve the quality of education across our country. oh ya, and perhaps crack down even harder on school systems that ‘cheat’ on student performance tests. at this time that seems like the most important role for the Dept of ED. for you see, there is going to be a great debate in the 2012 election season about the viability of this dept given the fact that all the ‘educating’ takes place at the very local level. the question will be, “why not use all this federal money for local needs?” by your count there are over 3500 bureaucrats on the FED payroll – improving the product at the national level. what is the true value add that your dept brings to this effort? Please feel free to reply about this email in your ‘tweet’ conference today. very sincerely, Jerry, CO

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