Duncan Talks Obama Education Record at Mom Congress

Secretary Duncan speaks to Mom Congress

Secretary Duncan speaks to the 2012 Mom Congress delegates. Official Department of Education photo by Leslie Williams.

What is the proper role of the federal government in education? Secretary Arne Duncan answered this question Monday at Parenting‘s annual Mom Congress in Washington. “Under President Obama’s leadership, our role here in Washington is to support you,” Duncan said. There’s a transformation underway in public education at the state and local level, he said, that is raising expectations for students and educators.

At the Department of Education, our first three years were really about building a foundation for this transformation. We have challenged the status quo wherever it is needed and championed bold reform wherever it is happening along the educational pipeline from cradle to career.

Secretary Duncan explained how the Obama Administration has supported reforms by:

Strengthening K-12 Education

The Administration is investing in courageous leadership at the state and local level, taking to scale practices that close achievement gaps and raise the bar for all students. Investments include:

Investing in Early Learning

The Obama Administration has made an unprecedented investment in high-quality early childhood education with the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge.

Keeping Teachers on the Job

Under the Recovery Act and emergency jobs funding, more than 325,000 teachers were kept in classrooms during the height of the recession.

Investing in Higher Education

The Obama Administration has made the largest investment in higher education since the G.I. Bill.

    • Three million more students are going to college with Pell Grants, thanks to an increase in Pell funding by $40 billion. Rather than adding to the deficit, the Administration paid for the increase by cutting overly generous federal subsidies to big banks that make student loans.
    • Invested $2.5 billion to support adults attending community colleges.
    • Simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has resulted in 50 percent more applications since President Obama took office.

“The bottom line today is: We can’t stop,” Secretary Duncan said. “The costs of educational stagnation and mediocrity are too high. President Obama has put us on a path to reach our goal of being the best-educated country in the world by 2020, and we have to keep going.”

Arne encouraged the education advocates in the audience—moms from all 50 states and D.C.—to continue working in their communities on behalf of their own children and all children. Parents need to be good partners with their children’s teachers, he told them, but “also need to be partners in bigger, systemic issues.”

Read the entire speech here.


  1. Arne Duncan, you are mistaken about the teacher evaluation initiatives in RI. The reform initiatives to change evaluation systems of teachers in this state is a sham. It is a lead weight, a sofa too big to get through the door jam, even if you take the moulding off. It is comfortable enough, to believe that by asking unqualified people to transcribe a teacher’s words, manipulate them to fit a rubric, and then “objectively” judge the teacher’s effectiveness based on this and data that can never be deemed reliable because the subjects are different each year, you will discover who is effective and who isn’t. But it is inherently flawed because those evaluating teachers are the one in need of reform. We don’t need teacher evaluation reform. We need administrator, superintendent and, yes, commissioner reform. We need evaluators who have enough content area knowledge, and grade level pedagogy understanding, to accurately measure a teacher’s effectiveness. Don’t tell me that a former elementary school teacher with an administrator’s degree, can evaluate my classroom effectiveness. He cannot. I teacher Advanced Placement senior English, and unless he has a firm grasp of British and American literature, as well as the language of rhetoric, he cannot evaluate me because he does not have the literary and rhetorical vocabulary to do so.
    How do I know? – Because I was transcribed as saying “literal interpretations” when in actuality I said “literary interpretation.”
    Take a lesson from high school reform. Start at the top. Hire principals and superintendents and commissioners who have masters’ degrees and Phd’s in education and subject areas, not administration. Take a lesson from business, and hire people who have experience teaching the grades and content they are overseeing. The teaching profession is no longer a good occupation for mothers who want to be home with their own children. It is a career which requires more self-motivated advanced philosophical and pedagogical education and practice than the people who evaluate us. Stanley Morgan wouldn’t hire a CEO who had less practical experience than his/her employees. Why do we advance administrators who have mere administration degrees or superintendent degrees to such positions? If we really want to change education, we need to search for better qualified principals, superintendents and commissioners.


  2. I think President Obama has the right idea with starting education at a young age. Our educational system is becoming so complex that we need to jump the gun, so to speak. President Obama wants to put a true investment in to the future of America. Everybody just seems to be so consumed with the here and now.

  3. This is a political article and it should not be here at all. The article itself is laughable. The administration has “challenged the status quo”? When? They have reinforced the status quo – fiat rule by teacher unions – and then double down by supplying $40 billion of taxpayer dollars to support higher college tuition. “Championed bold reform”? Where? Bold reform would be to first eliminate the Dept of Ed. Or, if that is really too drastic, provide school vouchers so parents\students can choose the best school. How about charter schools – they have done wonders for test scores (and students’ desire to learn) in New Orleans and elsewhere. I mean, if you are really concerned about the students….

    $2.5 billion for adults attending community college – I understand this one a little more: recession, job loss, change of career – ok, it has potential. It wasn’t mentioned, so I’ll ask: what kind of support did this provide? Did it provide funds so they could take underwater basket weaving/appreciation of TV, etc or was it tightly managed so that it really got good use – i.e. skill building for career improvement or job retraining? I *think* we know the answer to that.

    Simplifying FAFSA had a 50% increase in applications – how is this good? Are you pointing out that they weren’t smart enough to figure it out in the first place so they need to be in college? (If they can’t figure out the “free money” form you have to ask yourself if they should be in college at all – perhaps some remedial classes first would be a better use of $$) Or are you pointing out that now there are 50% more people getting taxpayer dollars that shouldn’t have been taken in the first place (constitutionally speaking, of course)

    325,000 teachers kept on the job by the recovery act? How did you figure that one out? By the way, were these good, above-average or high performing teachers? Were low performing teachers kept as well? Just wondering….

  4. Here my question to share with other.
    Watch out if you have a disability see if there can give you help, because I’m, epileptic of 51 years and didn’t get no support on that part. And then I can see someone that next to be going school to don’t even have to pay. My husband has a disability after the Iraq war. That why Im asking?

  5. This article is violating our civil rights and our childrens rights. The President can’t even run our country and you feel he is capable of fixing this disasterous education system we hane in this country. Keep politics out of the system. But you know you can’t because the teachers union backs political causes. Too much money at stake.

  6. This post is totally unacceptable. Why should I come to the Dept of Ed website to learn about President Obama’s accomplishments. Keep politics out of it. Please take this post down immediately or I will take court action.

Comments are closed.