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By clicking 1 Click Bid, you are agreeing to buy this item from the seller if you're the winning bidder. This is a private listing and your identity will not be disclosed to anyone except the seller. In what proved to be a very reflective conversation, Education Dive got his thoughts on his legacy, his regrets, and the current issues plaguing the Chicago school system. ARNE DUNCAN: No bill is perfect, but we are very pleased with how that bill turned out in terms of our values. Historically, in terms of reaction to No Child Left Behind—this is an unintended consequence, but it happens — many states dumbed down standards. And now, in the law of the nation, you have to have high standards.
I always thought that there was too much focus on just a single test score in No Child Left Behind. There will be states with imperfections, it shouldn’t hurt teachers to be challenged. You’ve said that some of the reforms you spearheaded need 10-15 years to play out and show results, so is that legacy of reform compatible with ESSA? The fact that so many states have adopted higher standards is going to be a game changer over time, not overnight. One quick example: We put a huge spotlight on reducing these dropout factories, where basically the majority of kids were failing. Duncan, seen here at Fern Creek High School in Louisville, KY, visited many of the nation’s schools on bus tours during his tenure. Is there anything you regret not being able to focus on more during your time leading the Department of Education? The second regret is that I desperately wanted to provide financial aid and college scholarships to DREAMERs, undocumented students. These are all things having to do with Congress, to sort of go back to your original question: That we need Congress to partner with us on early childhood education. What do you think large urban districts can do beyond legislative efforts to address and curb both gun violence, but also the school-to-prison pipeline? Where schools are challenging that and doing more restorative justice and peer juries — and more counselors and emotional and psychological support — you see, again, primarily young men of color doing better. Many districts have actually had very substantial reductions in suspensions and expulsions.
To see someone probably going to jail, who is in a position of leadership and a position of trust, because they abused that trust, it’s just the kids who lose when that happens. I’m actually pretty hopeful here, thanks not to what we did at the Department of Education, but because of what the FCC did. Some states, like New York and California, have seen dramatically different responses to Common Core. Folks can tweak, and they move around the edges, but now you have in the law of the land a requirement for states to have high standards. And how your implement it is legally important, giving different abilities to implement well. As much as some charter models have seen great success, there have been a plethora of high-profile charter scandals nationwide — particularly in Ohio. The power of the idea behind charters was to have increased autonomy, being free from bureaucracy, to be creative, to have some vision and do things independently.
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You've read and agree to the Global Shipping Programme terms and conditions - opens in a new window or tab. Import charges previously quoted are subject to change if you increase your maximum bid amount. To give a couple of examples: For the first time ever, the bill incorporates early childhood education. That’s a huge breakthrough that will hopefully help to challenge the past, where it was too easy for politicians to reduce standards.
It comes out of 1955: the focus on equity, the focus on achievement gaps, the focus on dropout rates and dropout factories. Now we’re moving to graduation rates, to long-term outcomes, to giving more flexibility there. They’re not guaranteed successes, but they start to put the nation in a spot — maybe in the ballpark. And despite the billion dollars for early childhood ed, there is still tremendous unmet need around the country. And we were really hopeful that immigration reform would happen and that would be a part of it. We need Congress to partner with us, to give our department permission to provide financial aid to undocumented students. Just to be very clear, for me, the school-to-prison pipeline is basically what you’re doing for young boys of color. And [they’re] becoming community leaders and helping to contribute to building a positive culture in their schools. With the ongoing bribery scandal involving recent CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and the other issues facing the district, what are your thoughts on the state of Chicago’s schools? And if Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked, would you return to your previous role as CEO? Hopefully, they’ll find somebody who can stay with it for the long haul and who can build continuity.
With the Future Ready Schools and Connected 2.0 initiatives, as well as the FCC’s E-rate program, is enough being done to bridge the tech gap? I’ve said this a lot publicly, but school districts just basically need to stop buying textbooks and start buying digital devices. We need to start thinking about how we use the scarce resources and in a more strategic way going forward.
Should there have been a more uniform, steady rollout plan to keep it from going off the rails in some states? This came out of governors back in the ’90s talking about the need for states to have higher standards. The media likes to focus on the noise, and there is legitimate debate and pushback from the far left and the far right.
What should be done to rein in bad actors in that sphere and mitigate any interests that might play a negative role? The goal is to have more high-performing schools of every form and fashion, including charters.
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Those values that we think are so important, that we fought hard and tried to do it through policy and through our waivers, those things all now are in the law. To explain it better, you have to work with students, but it’s hard to make an argument that to lower standards somehow helps kids long-term. There’s a shot if people are smart and hold themselves accountable for student learning. The United States ranks something like 28th relative to other nations that provide access to high-quality pre-K.
We all need to be working together to provide opportunity for children, particularly those in Chicago where there simply isn’t enough. There’s a huge increase in the number of schools that actually have access to high-speed broadband.


Most textbooks are pretty much obsolete by the time they show up in the classroom, and all this stuff is expensive and there’s never enough money. In places like Morrisville, NC, they’ve done an amazing job with the same resources, using technology, closing gaps. There’s nothing about a name that tells you anything about quality, about what are the kids actually learning there. It’s so important for those who are authorizing charters, whether they are states or districts or universities, not to let a thousand flowers bloom, but to have very high quality where you have good authorization and accountability. How can we help them meet those needs and equip them with the skills to handle their situation?
And sadly, not surprisingly, suspensions and expulsions are disproportionately happening to young boys of color.
You had two people for 14 years, and now you’ve had five or six over the past seven years. Then good charters will and can grow and prosper, and bad charters who do not improve can be closed down. It’s controversial sometimes. But who can say that a thousand dropout factories is OK, and that no one cares if that number goes up? Like tens of thousands of additional schools now have the infrastructure to really accelerate the learning curve.
But thinking in the long-term, there’s nothing more important we can do for kids than to challenge them to be actually college-ready, not only to graduate high school.
There’s a real opportunity to take the next step, and my goal always had to be get better, faster. They are young leaders who have worked hard, and then we slam shut the door of opportunity right after they leave high school. We just totally cut off our nose to spite our face and condemn these talented, committed, smart young people. That was a huge battle, and we would not have gotten it in without having (Sen.) Patty Murray (D-WA) be so strong. That's a huge breakthrough that will hopefully help to challenge the past, where it was too easy for politicians to reduce standards.
By definition, if we're talking about three- and four-year-olds, we're not going to see graduation rates for another 11-12 years.
The United States ranks something like 28th relative to other nations that provide access to high-quality pre-K.
And we were really hopeful that immigration reform would happen and that would be a part of it. We just totally cut off our nose to spite our face and condemn these talented, committed, smart young people. To really try to understand what is going on in the child's life, be it at school, in their community, or at home. How can we help them meet those needs and equip them with the skills to handle their situation? Just to be very clear, for me, the school-to-prison pipeline is basically what you're doing for young boys of color. Hopefully, they'll find somebody who can stay with it for the long haul and who can build continuity.
With the Future Ready Schools and Connected 2.0 initiatives, as well as the FCC's E-rate program, is enough being done to bridge the tech gap?
There's a huge increase in the number of schools that actually have access to high-speed broadband. Like tens of thousands of additional schools now have the infrastructure to really accelerate the learning curve.
I've said this a lot publicly, but school districts just basically need to stop buying textbooks and start buying digital devices. Most textbooks are pretty much obsolete by the time they show up in the classroom, and all this stuff is expensive and there's never enough money.
The fact is, in a short amount of time, with our incentives and tremendous leadership and courage from states, we had an absolute breakthrough. But thinking in the long-term, there's nothing more important we can do for kids than to challenge them to be actually college-ready, not only to graduate high school.
There's nothing magical about the name, whether it's a charter school or traditional neighborhood school or a magnet school.
There's nothing about a name that tells you anything about quality, about what are the kids actually learning there. I've been to amazing charter schools that are literally changing kids' life chances, but I've also gone to the National Charter School Convention and told them that they've got to stop protecting bad charters and close them down.




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