Duncan stated that he was hopeful he could lift American education “to an entirely new level. And I am especially hopeful because the stimulus package on the Hill includes a historic level of one-time education funding that will not only save or create jobs but will also lay the groundwork for a generation of education reform and progress.”
While excited about the stimulus package and the new presidential leadership, Duncan also mentioned major difficulties ahead: “While we have a vital higher education system in America and a research arm that is the envy of the world, college is beyond the reach of most Americans and high school is not nearly enough. I don’t need to tell you that America has lost its global leadership in education.
We have to start by recognizing that our system of education is not aligned. Every state has different high school standards. If we accomplish one thing in the coming years, it should be to eliminate the extreme variation in standards across America. I know that talking about standards can make people nervous, but the notion that we have fifty different goalposts is absolutely ridiculous.
We need to challenge ourselves at the Department of Education as well. Instead of being a compliance-driven bureaucracy we must become an engine of innovation, reform and support. I know from my time as a superintendent that we are a long way from meeting that goal.”
For the complete Duncan speech click here.