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Welcome back to Washington I'm in the nation's capital tonight as part of my reporting on education in this country.
A short time ago I sat down with a man in charge of it all education secretary Arnie Duncan.
Among the biggest questions why so many of our high school kids are dropping out and why we're losing our edge in the classroom.
A solution to all of this was supposed to be in No Child Left Behind a multi billion dollar program signed into a lot ten years ago by President Bush.
The -- administration doesn't think it's working and wants to change it.
So I asked the secretary if he was now going to let schools opt out.
I always give the law because -- this stations credit for shine a spotlight on achievement gaps and defending data so we wanted to keep that focus.
I'm having said that the laws in 105 years overdue for being reauthorize it's too punitive is to prescriptive.
Led to a dummy down standards led to a narrative the curriculum.
Well I'm most concerned about as we go to the next school year.
-- of next year or two without changes the vast majority of schools are confident we'll be labels failures 7580%.
That simply doesn't reflect reality we absolutely have schools are struggling and you want challenges this might challenge the status quo there.
We're schools are getting better each year where they're improving or teachers -- pencils are working really hard to label -- as failures is confusing is -- advertising.
Doesn't make sense the parents of students.
My biggest ambition.
-- to have congress to authorize the law and working very hard in a bipartisan way and I was about houses and they're getting some traction in fact I think that.
Put through to a five bills that plan to do that the house -- to to a five or six.
Are -- started to move -- just moving too slow and so we'll continue to to work with that that's plan today.
-- at the end of the day if it doesn't happen.
I think we all else in the country to to provide some some believe.
How does your program race to the top fill the gaps that you just described.
Well what was seen over the past two and a half years thanks in part to raise the top -- been pretty extraordinary.
You've seen about 42 states -- standards college and credit to college and career ready standards.
Historically fought to -- -- dummy downstairs they'd like to children families and make politicians look good.
It was bad for education -- shoulder and -- battle State's economy -- the only state shall we encourage doing the right thing has been huge.
We -- about 44 states work -- next generation of assessments.
We saw about three dozen states remove barriers to innovative schools.
And I had no idea this under apartheid the Washington will be actually had states that have laws on the books it was against the law to link teacher valuation.
-- an achievement all those laws are now gone.
So massive amount change thanks in part to raise the top but a huge amount of courage and leadership at the local level that's where the real change that's happened not coming from -- Washington.
You know you just said this number and it's something I picked out about the stories I read that some 80% of schools today would fail to meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind.
I mean this is just basic requirements that kids be proficient in reading and math is not acceptable especially the part about being proficient in reading and math.
What doesn't reflect reality that's that's the disappointing part that's what we need to change -- much more consistent growth and gain our students improving each year.
Are they are -- schools getting better or this is -- better states can better.
And I think the -- 80% of schools in the country is failing is wrong it is dishonest and we don't think it's the right thing to do for the country.
We get to get better faster than we ever have we can't have a -- -- peanuts slowing us down.
Harming our ability to get where we need to go with a country so you don't want to label them as failing that you say they don't meet the requirements -- -- as -- we have schools that truly are feeling 405060.
To drop out rates.
We're going into it requiring massive changes really trying to be disruptive and challenge the status quo.
But we schools are getting better each year to label those schools this -- simply is not.
You know one of the big issues that I think people feel all over the country state and local budget strapped -- talk about this all the time on the show.
Everybody so worried about whether these local governments can continue how they'll continue.
How could educate kids in an environment like that that is an extraordinarily tough budget times and example that the state and local level.
Our own fortune on force and we have no choice our children have one chance to get education.
So we can't use tough economic times we can't use anything as an excuse not to continue to drive reform.
All I would argue maybe particularly tough economic times only we would strengthen our country.
Ultimately -- I -- much better educated workforce so I feel a tremendous sense of urgency.
We have to get better faster than we ever have the country we've been far too complacent.
And got despite these tough budget times which seem to get an amazing courage and innovation leadership at the local level.
And so the challenge is a real.
I'm actually very very optimist.
You know we talked about kids where they are today in terms of education I couldn't help me but be shocked by some numbers I -- recently.
Comparing our kids with kids around the world and let's face it that's how we're getting -- today everybody could economies here compete with economies overseas.
And if you look at the competency levels in reading and math and I'm looking here at 34 developed countries OK we ranked fourteenth in reading 25 in math.
That's just not acceptable what needs to happen.
Not acceptable and I'm looking that that -- up all the time.
Have hosted intended international conferences and you hit the nail on the head our competition isn't in the district or in the state in the country.
And Finland and China and Japan.
And we have other countries today the simple fact the brutal truth is we have other countries -- -- -- out educate us.
That's not who we think we all may not want want to embrace that reality but that is the truth.
And so that's why we're pushing so hard for great -- programs for K12 reform.
To increase access to higher education.
We have to do what's better than we have we have to challenge just as quote again it is not good enough brought children is not good enough for our country.
It globally competitive knowledge based economy I would argue nothing's more important than educating our way to -- -- part of education gets criticized Ron Paul would like to close it down some folks out there say we don't need.
Federal level management of the education of our children how do you respond to that -- I think historically this office here has been complaints of bureaucracy.
We tried to absolutely change the focus could become the engine -- innovation scalable best practices.
I've said repeatedly the best ideas and educational never come from me.
The fact never -- many miles of Washington always become the local level.
We've got to -- the top.
-- to invest in innovations program to promise neighborhoods Israelis to take great work at the local level shine a spotlight on it replicate.
Take it to scale I think that's a great great roll across the play for all the challenges we face that devastatingly high dropout rate.
International best mark frost and -- imagine all problems very real challenges all the great answers out there.
Great teachers great principals assault that -- in the country.
We haven't done is take those those solutions those innovative ideas to scale that's the role -- we should be and that's the role I want our department to play.
Secretary Duncan thank you so much for them to him.
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