“We need to push very, very hard in schools”

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30 november 2012 | Secretary of Education Arne Duncan of the USA continues to lay out his priorities for president Obama's second term. It is clear he will remain on his post. Duncan emphasizes teacher preparation is broken and that the best educators need to be teaching the highest-need children.

In remarks at the two-day forum in Washington of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, run by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Duncan said he has an “ambitious” second-term agenda that includes holding the line on initiatives he started during his first four years. This makes it very clear, that president Obama will keep his highly succesful and appreciated education-czar in his cabinet.

Arne Cuncan cited specifically the tough road ahead for common standards, common tests, and teacher evaluations. “Do we have the courage to stay the course there?” he asked. 

Best teachers for children with highest needs

As for renewed areas of emphasis, he clearly wants to focus on teacher and principal quality. He said teacher education programs are “part of the problem.” Without getting specific, Duncan said there are a “number of things we plan to do,” and said the department is looking at some sort of competitive initiative to continue to foster educational innovation in schools. He continued, “We need to push very, very hard in schools.” 

Duncan also said he was troubled that no schools or districts he knows work “systemically” to identify the best teachers and principals in order to place them with the children with the highest needs. “We’re not even in the game. We’re not there yet,” he said. A new initiative in this field might be presented soon. Why not at the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in Amsterdam, the summit Duncan initiated with president Obama?

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