Secretary Arne Duncan speaks with Gwen Ifill at the Aspen Institute's Innovation Economy Conference in Washington DC.
On Monday, Secretary Duncan helped kick off the “Innovation Economy Conference,” a day-and-a-half-long event featuring forums that examined ways in which American policymakers, businesses, and public citizens can drive the long-term growth of the U.S. economy. The event was sponsored by the Aspen Institute; the Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) production, “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer;” Intel Corporation; and the publication, “Democracy: A Journal of Ideas.” More than 400 educators, scientists, legislators, business leaders, and policy experts attended the kick-off discussion with Secretary Duncan and Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week” and senior correspondent for PBS’ “NewsHour.”
During the discussion, Secretary Duncan noted that there are islands of excellence in American education, but that we need systems of excellence so that our nation’s students can remain competitive in the global economy. The secretary explained that improving teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) would help put U.S. students on par with their counterparts in other top-performing countries. “Ensuring our children are excelling in the STEM fields is essential for our nation’s prosperity, security, health, and quality of life,” Secretary Duncan stated. He added, “We won’t have an innovative economy if we don’t lead the world in these fields.”
Secretary Arne Duncan, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and civil rights leader Al Sharpton discussed their national tour to expose challenges and highlight education reform in America’s schools on Meet the Press, with host David Gregory, on Sunday, Nov. 15.
Secretary Duncan said, “We want the department to be an agent of innovation” in the drive to turn schools around. He emphasized that “we all have to take responsibility” in making our schools better. Part of that effort, he said, must include decreasing the dropout rate, increasing graduation rates and preparing students better for work and college.
In a joint statement about the national tour, Secretary Duncan, Gingrich and Sharpton said: “Our hope is that these school visits and conversations will inspire stakeholders to set aside partisanship and ideology and join together in support of a common education reform agenda that addresses our core challenges and provides every child in every school the very best education possible.”
The tour is an outgrowth of a meeting the three had with President Obama last spring. It will include school visits, stakeholder meetings and media briefings. The three first visited Philadelphia on Sept. 29, followed by Baltimore on Nov. 13. See the full Meet the Press interview.
President Obama recently said, “At a time when our kids are competing with kids in China and India, the best job qualification you can have is a college degree or advanced training.”
Here’s a program that is helping low-income students in Washington State earn college credits and get job training. I-BEST (stands for Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training) helps students complete what is considered a tipping point of 45 credits. A 2-year pilot study shows these students were 5 times more likely to earn college credits than traditional basic skills students and 15 times more likely to complete workforce training.