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April 18th, 2010
02:54 PM ET

Fixing America's Schools

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan comes to Atlanta for a town hall meeting at Carver High School to discuss solutions for the nation's public school system. CNN's Don Lemon hosts the exclusive event.


Filed under: CNN Newsroom • Don Lemon
soundoff (103 Responses)
  1. terrance gibson

    I would really like to see ethnicity,and cultural teachings to allow our kids to understand others. And make economics a big part of our kids teaching, so we can have a future of who spend wisely. Recessions from here on should be a thing of our pass.

    April 18, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
  2. terrance gibson

    All schools should have uniforms, it allows kids to identify with their pears, as well it promotes unity, and school pride.

    April 18, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
  3. Lee

    As a science teacher in the South Bronx, there's all this talk about educational standards and how the standards are going to better assess students based on their needs, however, in what way can a small school with limited resources be held accountable for the failures of students who either don't care enough to show up or are not committed to graduate? The argument of helping someone who refuses to help themselves comes to mind. I can't force education upon my students, nor can I rationally convince all of them that the one true path to success is to get a bachelor's degree. At what point do we hold parents and students accountable for their academic outcomes?

    Where do we draw the line with what is acceptable in terms of dropping out of high school? It's one thing for a student to drop out because the failure of the institution, but it's another thing for a student to drop out to pursue occupational interests over academic interests. Why should a school be punished for having students who cannot graduate, but are willing to seek occupational opportunities through trade schools or by getting their GED's? Isn't it a bit callous to assume that all drop-outs from high school are failures and then use those numbers to justify the closure of schools?

    April 18, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
  4. Ann Hill

    Michigan state legislature just has passed their idea of fixing Michigan schools. They are now going to levy 3% of teachers' pay, to offset the cost of education. It is cloaked under additional money for pension funds, but will be used to help the deficit spending for our schools. Basically it's a tax.
    So once again, the middle to lower middle class citizens are being assessed money to patch poor legislative leadership. Heaven forbid the legislation revamp the whole funding for schools and assess an equitable tax on all Michigan citizens.
    It further reveals the lack of support for teachers and students by our legislature. The saying, "You get what you pay for," seems apt. The gifted teachers graduating from Michigan universities will look elsewhere for employment where the educaional system is valued. And they should.

    April 18, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  5. Cynthia

    One comment made was about having additional tutorials for students. I work in a poverty area school where 98% of students are reduced/free lunch. We have had free tutorial from outside companies and had very little attendance. The school itself has had tutorial one day a week from 3 – 5 with snacks and on Saturday 9-12 with breakfast and snack served. Transportation is provided for all tutorial. We have no more than 12 students attend out of a school of 300 students. This is very sad. Parents contacts are made but children still do not show up.

    April 18, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
  6. guy geiger

    Dear Sec. Duncan;
    I enjoyed your program aired on CNN. I am a past teacher and current academic volunteer at our local GED program and our Sinclair Community College assisting students that cannot pass the placement test in mathematics.
    My perception is that your view of the classroom is that of a garden where we cultivate young minds and bodies. I agree with you on that. Your view seems to be that all the students are flowers; I have found that there are weeds that impede the growth of the “flowers”.
    How do we remove the weeds?
    The school you referred to in Chicago that you had to close and then reopen with a new faculty and the same type students; what changed? Something must have been different.
    I recommended that if it is the teachers in Dayton Ohio then move the staff from the successful suburban schools to the inner-city academically poor schools and see what happens. My guess is an increase in resignations.
    We cannot legislate parental involvement; but we cannot allow the weeds to undermine the growth of the flowers. We have tried alternative schools, in school suspension, we have psychologists, counselors, you name it … I am advocating reopening the Children’s Home that existed in my youth. These were homes with great administrators that taught manners, work ethic and provided academic guidance to the youth living there. It removed the students from dysfunctional families.
    I quit volunteering in the high school because I could not tolerate the weeds impeding the growth of the flowers. Working in the post high school environment is very rewarding; the students know the value of education and are self regulating; students that want to be disruptive are “removed” by the other students that are there investing their time to become successful.
    Thanks for your time;
    Guy Geiger

    April 18, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  7. Sandra Laborde

    More money needs to be invested in education and teacher salaries. Paying teachers higher salaries will recruit better teachers.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  8. Karmen Frlan

    Response to Arne Duncan's statement that US students are at parity with other developed countries. I appreciate his enthusiasm I have to disagree. Students from other countries are more informed about every subject from writing/reading to science and math. Not to mention that they actually know more about global and US history than our own students.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  9. Alex Seleznyov

    I was wondering if the Secretary could comment on types of incentives being consider to encourage greater participation in higher education. I feel like I've done the right thing saving for a few years and paying for my MBA degree in cash. However, this means I cannot get a tax break, aside from perhaps $2,000 per year, having spent over $150K on a top-tier business school...

    April 18, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  10. bob

    W hat right does the public universities have to increase their tuitions knowing that most students and their families can not even afford to go even one year let alone 4 ?

    April 18, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  11. Stephanie Whitcomb

    Dear Don–

    I appreciate these topics reguarding high education, testing etc to be discussed openly. It allows the fellow people to actually feel they can contribute to the conversation and finally know they are listened to.
    My question is reguarding trying to earn a high education. I am 26 and I have two years of college. I was brought up in a home like most kids with not much money flowing around. I have seen in my life and I am seeing more often those students that really want to earn a high education cannot afford it, and those who really care less are given money from the Government, party and earn their degree without having to work. Like myself I was not able to finish college because they would always come up with a reason why I was not able to receive financial aid. To be honest I do not think we have a school problem but we have a Government problem. I think since the kids are our future the Government needs to work together rather then constantly seperating by who is Republican or Democrat (and really fix America's Problems....

    April 18, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  12. rjo

    Break the public school monopoly. Vouchers for any acredited school for our students.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  13. Kristine Keplinger

    The legislature has spent so much time and effort to cut money and funds going to teachers, in my county 99 teachers are supposed to be cut for next year. If we are able to get rid of these teachers, then why did we have them to begin with. Why do we stand for classes that will be increasing in size, and why doesn't the legislature ask all of the esteemed teachers if they have ideas to save the government money. I know in my school alone, the teachers in my hall have great ideas for saving money that don't involve eliminating teachers. We are the ones teaching the future of us all, but we have no say. Why?

    April 18, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  14. Casey

    As a college student interested in entering the education field, I am attuned to the issues of education; however, I find it very difficult to even begin describing where I believe we should begin to modify our education system. Is there any advice to a young individual who wishes to better our schools, and in what ways can I influence change?

    April 18, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  15. Gwen Jones

    Hello Don & Artie,

    Books are very important & there is a controversy regarding Texas purchasing books. How do schools overcome the problem of selecting good books & teaching our students the correct facts regarding our history & science.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  16. Ruth West

    In Georgia, they have a program to send children to school from pre-k through college IF they maintain a B average. It's called the Hope Scholarship.
    Do other states do this?

    April 18, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  17. Justin Andrews

    How are the raising of standards for teachers going to coincide with holding them accountable for the education of students in American high schools?

    In many cases the development of academically competitive students is farther behind in public schools than in private schools which in turn leads to the marginalization of the rich upper 5%-10% of America from the upper-middle and middle classes who are enrolled in the public school system. How is this administration going to provide access to better educational resources to public schools so that this gap can be closed?

    April 18, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  18. JOY WHITE

    Dear Don:
    I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate you on the great job you do.
    Regarding the topic of American schools. Our problems can be fixed easily by having one system nationwide instead of 50 systems. The secretary mentioned that the Federal Government will give the funds to the states and it is up to the states to do what "THEY" think is best. There is no reason why the U.S.A. should not have the same standard within the school system nationwide. Should I believe that there is nothing united about the "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA". Our historical double standard practices are detrimental to the nations growth.
    Joy White, MBA/GM
    Doctoral Learner [2012]

    April 18, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  19. Cindy Collins

    Arne Duncan's ideas sound appropriate and reasonable for improving education in the U.S. Can I tell you what is going on in New Jersey though? The exact opposite of what the Secretary of Education is proposing. Due to Governor Chris Christie's excessive and punitive budget cuts imposed on the public education system in New Jersey, many programs, resources, and opportunities are being lost to students. The public schools of New Jersey are being gutted. Education Secretary, PLEASE help!

    April 18, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  20. Paul Sinckler

    How is it that we allow the Texas School Districts to determine what the content of our textbooks are? History and fact are essentially absolutes. If we allow the rewriting of history to fit the "vision" or perception of any particular parties or individuals we will do a horrible disservice to our children and our future. Please let me know how this issue will be rectified!

    April 18, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  21. rjo

    I am not sure monopoly is correct since a monopoly only controls the supply. You will pay for the public school system or they will take your house.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  22. christy, Ohio

    It is not the money or having access but of inspiration and determination. To much attention is spent on sports and entertainment then improving oneself.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  23. Andrea Song

    We all have a stake in the future of our children. Our public high school's fortieth reunion was turned into a fundraiser for low income students by assisting them with the laptop rental fees. There are countless ways to help. Let's be creative in times of need; we don't need another reunion in Las Vegas. Think about your reunion as a way to celebrate with your fellow classmates and have a goal to help your school-it is very gratifying.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  24. Vic

    I have a step son who is from China. He is 15 years old and is a junior in College. He has a 4.0 grade point average. We took him out of public school when he was 13 years old. He came to America when he ws 12 years old. There a many reasons:

    1. The culture in China puts alot of importance in education.
    2. Parents are 200% more involved then American parents.
    3. Students in China study after school with private tutors or in after school classes.
    4. Their school books are covered from page one to the end. They are not think like the books here. I was a teacher and you only cover in most schools 1/3 of the book maybe 1/2. The students in China study the chapters ahead of the teacher and then goes over it again with the teacher. As most of us did at our Universities (maybe some of us).
    5. The school days are longer, but total time in school is less then in America.

    These are just some issues. The main this is our American Culture. Parents are lazy. We have high drop out rates.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  25. Angela Stebbins

    I have taught in or sat in on grades from Kindergarten all the way up to 8th grade classes in NH and see a huge dis-respect from students towards each other and their teachers these days, with little regard from most parents about it, and it seems like society is falling apart with little to no morals or standards left.

    Why doesn't the government create a system where parents will only receive a tax credit for their children every year if the attend a parenting class geared toward the age or ages of their children? Why do we give credits just for having children? Why not help America's students through building stronger families and better parents? Too many parents today are younger, and not mature enough to become parents, and many come from parents that did not know how to be parents themselves... we have to stop this downward cycle somehow... why not in a productive, rewarding way?

    April 18, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  26. Joe

    I teach 8th grade mathematics. The biggest concern that I have is students' attitudes towards education, and the lack of accountability placed on students and parents. Our students' don't take school seriously because they are not held accountable at school or home. If they don't study, if they don't participate in class, if they flat out fail, blame is always placed on the teacher. No consequences are in place for students or parents. I am perfectly fine being evaluated for my performance in the classroom by evaluation or standardized testing, however, student accountability has to increase. Furthermore, students and parents must be held accountable if we are to see the necessary change needed to overcome the problems we are facing in today's educational system.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  27. Sandra Silverstein

    I know that the arts are very important but we should be doubling up in math, science and english realizing that we can't do it all.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  28. Chris Ogbuehi

    Teachers focus more on children grades than real education because passing is tied to their retention and performance evaluation. My child never opens his books at home and yet make good grades.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  29. Barbara Shepherd

    Major school reform is needed across the nation.Accountability across the board is the key.......politicians,teachers,principals, parents, students and the community at large. Only then can true reform occur. Continued failure of educating all students is absolutely UNEXCEPTABLE!

    April 18, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  30. Jan Rollins

    NCLB puts much responisibility on the school system to educate all children. The law is explicit in what the school's responsibility is to all children to ensure educational success. With all we know about pre-school education, 0-5 years old, and its positive impact on children's education, should our nation legislate parental responsibiilty?

    April 18, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  31. Kelly Lison

    I attend a public school where students must apply to get in, and have certain test scores and discipline records. As a result, less than 1% of students drop out, and all of my peers love the competitive and challenging enviroment. However, our school board has recently taken measures to improve the drop-out rate in the area, taking funding away from the motivated and high performing students and spending it on remedial classes and more stringent discipline measures. Several of my classmates had been planning on spending their senior year in a special research program that would prepare them for careers in medicine and related fields; now, however, they will be stuck taking easy A electives for an entire year. My question to you is: Is it worth holding back our hard working and high performing students to look as though more students are just passing?

    April 18, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  32. Amanda

    I am a teacher in Baltimore, MD. I think that the way to fix our school system is to cut down on testing. I am a new teacher, and I feel that I test more than I teach. Speaking with colleagues, who have decades of experience, they feel the same way. We need to teach our students instead of assessing what they know without giving them the opportunity to learn the material.
    I agree with Secretary Duncan that teachers and parents need to have a more cohesive relationship. However, as a teacher, I know that I reach out to parents but many never respond or do not take the time to seek me out. It is sad, when we have parents that are unaware of activities in the school, early dismissals, or are simply unreachable. Yet, I am held responsible for how well these children meet standards.
    Testing is not the answer to better schools. In regards to the schools that are being audited because of administrators and teachers changing the answers, I would not put this out of reach for any administrator. Administrators prior to testing are absolutely paranoid. They stress to teachers, the need to review material or cover material that we may not get to.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  33. jim

    As an educator for over 20 years, I am still appalled at our system. The problem as I see it? Overpaid, lazy, incompetent administrators; wasting money on textbook companies who produce the same old garbage; teachers who are lazy and do anything to get out of grading more than mere recalled useless information; teaching to the lowest common denominator; dummying down curriculum; more concern for touchy-feely trash and less for meaty, rich curriculum. Most of the time a student's education is teacher-based; if a student gets a good teacher, he or she is lucky (for the year). Our system needs to be student-based; teacher autonomy needs to go. Incompetent teachers need to go. Teachers of core subjects need to be compensated more appropriately, not the same as a driver's ed teacher or a PE teacher or a woodshop/oods teacher. I could go on forever, but as long as the people at the top know nothing about being in the classroom, it is all just more good money being thrown at people who aren't going to do anything buy sing the same old song, give us the same old rhetoric.
    I love my career, but I thank god we aren't brain surgeons; we'd have killed many.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  34. Karen Horwitz

    Ask Arne why those in power refuse to listen to those of us reporting crime in our schools as well as the deliberate purging of intelligent, principled teachers who get in the way of a system focused on money, not children. it is time to wake up. What are the people with power doing to our banks, to Wall Street, to health care, to our government, to you name it? They are using it to amass their own wealth and power. Then think about what many of the priests did when no one was checking on them? Do you really think the people with power in education are Sally Sunshine's, out for the public good? It is irrational thinking! Sure the teachers could be not up to par, but isn't making that up a convenient way of getting rid of experienced teachers and replacing them with less expensive teachers so there is more money and power for those at the top? I can get you hundreds of award winning, great teachers who have made a difference and then been purged because they have the "wrong" agenda. They are principled and in the way of the White Chalk Criminals.

    You are reporting cheating with test scores. Education experts have reported teacher abuse. There are books out there documenting corruption galore such as White Chalk Crime:The REAL Reason Schools Fail and School Corruption:Betrayal of Children and the Public Trust, and When Teachers Talk, yet Arne is saying no finger pointing. There are times when finger pointing and investigations are in order. Why is he not considering that corruption is not the issue and not reading our books and finding out the truth, particularly when one of the books was written by a Chicago Public School teacher describing all kinds of corruption during his reign as superintendent?

    And we are asking CNN why you do not contact those of us constantly writing you to tell you the truth, which includes children being bullied while administrators are too preoccupied with money and power to get involved? We can report the corruption, but no one wants to know this as no one wanted to know about priest abuse and so it went on and on. Cheating on tests is encouraged. Robotic following of bad practices is encouraged. We can prove this. Why aren't you interested? Go to EndTeacherAbuse.org for starters. Contact us if you REALLY want to fix the schools. Those in control of our schools do not, particularly since if they implode they can justify charter schools and MORE control over public funds.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  35. Cheryl Heineman

    As an educator, I decided to further my education and improve my teacher by completing a Master's program. My state is looking at not paying teachers any more for their degrees. This bothers me because I am using my time and money to better myself for my students, yet I may not see any benefit in the form of salary increase. What is your opinion on this? And, how does education reform approach this?

    April 18, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  36. Don Alfera

    Some students go to college, some students go to a trade school. What is the matter with building a strong base 1ST grade through 6th grade with a well rounded broad based education. Then in Middle School help the kids explore themselves and their natural gifts and desires. Some people become tradesmen, some become congressional representatives, some go to college some go to trade schools. Some people that are tradesmen become political figures once they become successful in their own right. Some just go to schools and learn of the world and are much better suited for big picture stuff. Some are much better at little picture and local stuff. All are valuable resources. Treat them as such with the respect that true success is finding a place in life where you can flourish and be healthy.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  37. Ivan

    Hi Don, As the parent of an elementary school child, I am pleased that someone is bringing attention to our fractured school system. No child left behind was intended to help identify childrens difficulties with reading and math and to enable them to receive the assistance they needed from the school and available teachers. However I can assure you that it has started to categorize children into A schools, Bschools and on down to the D schools.Rather than the teachers helping the children to bring up a grade, the schools seem to find it easier to send these children off to the D schools where their poor grade will not affect the grade of the schools overall grade. Therefore ensuring more funding for the school with the better grade, but the struggling child has been sent to a school with a d grade. This is what our schools are doing to our children. They are shipping out the struggling students before giving them a real opportunity to improve, the focus is on the schools overall grade for funding as opposed to the wellbeing of the student. This is taking place all across Florida right now, my son will stay in his A school only because my wife and I have paid for after school tutoring, others who cannot afford this help for their children will see their young ones sent off to the D schools for next year. The system was supposed to help these kids, not ship them out. We need this fixed now and all of our children deserve a proper education from teachers who care about really teaching....not funding. Thankyou for giving us all a voice.

    Ivan J

    April 18, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  38. suzanne allen

    My problem with the US public education system is the multiple layers of dulpication at the administration level. Why not reduce those layers, regionalize and /or consolidate those costs. Redirect those new found funds to the class room level.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  39. Terra Meierdierck

    Since the 1950's, the USA has spent billions of dollars on the development and implementation of standardized test. We are still falling behind, competitively, on an international scale. Shouldn't we re-think how we are spending this money and the way we are educating our students? The USA has made no quantifiable progression in education with all this money spent.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  40. Hannah

    I think this is one of the most important things we as a society can look at when considering this countries future. Schools are seriosly lacking in preparing students to use critical thinking, however, sadly they are not lacking in preparing students to take test. I see this even now as a college student. It is not uncommon to take 20 minutes out of a 50 minute class to talk about what an exam is going to look like. How many questions? What type of questions? Is there a curve? We learn how to take test, very few actually learn the material.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  41. Mary-Alice

    When we begin to look to other nations, like Korea, whose education programs work better than our own we need to be careful when adopting their educational strategies. We are a country with unique characteristics. We are a Nation of individuals and much of what works in other countries will simply not translate to ours. A system of learning focusing on resilience, the ability to overcome failure/adversity, solving problems, etc. may be the best suited.

    New research shows this area may well be worth investigating. We are a Nation of survivors – teach to our nature.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  42. Michael T

    The problems in our education system are due in no small part to money and greed. As with all government institutions, the education system is run by bureaucracy. Thus, the system serves only to meet regulations at the bare minimum. We need to create an environment that encourages competition, adds extra help outside of the classroom, and enables students to grow. Of course those empty suites in Washington will only see this problem as a monetary issue when it is in fact a cultural problem too.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  43. Dave Phillis

    If we bail-out wall street with 0% loans; Why not give 0% college Education loans. 8% until you graduate, when you graduate your loan goes to 0%. Invest in our Future!!!!

    April 18, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  44. A. J. Baldwin

    As an elementary school teacher, I find it harder and harder to teach the whole child. First, teachers are under a great pressures for their students to make AYP. We are told that administrators are looking at classroom scores and making judgements. What can't we develop an assessment system that actually measures individual student growth? Secondly, children's behavior has changed greatly since I started teaching elementary students 14 years ago. Parents are often too busy to even response to our calls for more involvement on their part. As a result, I seem to be spending more time preventing difficulties and dealing with challenging behavior than I am able teach the core subjects. What is being done to dress this challenging social change in our children's behavior?

    April 18, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  45. Karen Horwitz

    Arne admitted that teachers are altruistic. With Bernie Madoff -like power mongers in control, they are having a field day. Why is the press trusting the reports coming from those with power and not seeking to hear from those who have been disappeared, not unlike under Pinochet? Do you really think that the establishment that has raped our schools has the answers? Watch the documentary The Cartel and hear teachers tell you it is all about money, not children. Contact me, an activist who has spent 14 years trying to protect our children. Go to EndTeacherAbuse.org or WhiteChalkCrime.com.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  46. Anita Morgan

    How can we ensure creative and innovative teaching in the classroom when new teachers are being RIF'd all over the country due to budget cuts? This leaves the same tenured teachers using the same methods in now overcrowded classrooms.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  47. Wes Zeigler

    What will you do about the inflated, often incompetent education bureaucracy from the federal department of education who gave us the disaster that is "No Child Left Behind?" It runs from the fed, to the state education boards,. to school boards whose members are never seen in the schools, are often split among racial and economic lines, pitting Chamber of Commerce interests ahead of education, want to mix public money with private money, and promote charter schools that promote inequality in resources. Finally it gets down to superintendents hired by boards with the specific agenda of busting the teacher unions, and turn young, incompetent building principals lose to oust older teachers who are higher on the salary schedule. They get away with blatant race, gender, age, even religious discrimination. And "accountability," like water seeks the lowest level, which is of course teachers, who are held accountable for not just being good, experienced, and knowledgeable teachers, but are left hanging out to dry because principals don't take care of discipline. They just care that the paperwork looks good for them and don't care about the reality of serious problems teachers are left to deal with the best the can, and spend more time in the principal's office on the carpet than continually disruptive, even abusive kids.

    April 18, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  48. Samantha

    I am a special education teacher in North Philadelphia who is currently enrolled as a graduate student. I am dedicated to my students just as I am dedicated to my own education but I must work after school to help pay my student loans with Sallie Mae, which have extremely high interest rates (i have no credit cards or other outstanding debt)Is there any initiative to assist teachers in low-income areas with their private student loans?

    April 18, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  49. Mary Catherine Brown

    How can teachers teach when the morning starts with a mother and her daughter arriving at shcool to confront (verbally and physically) the girls who are dating the daughters boyfriend,

    How can teachers teach when students are absent 30% of the class periods for the semester.
    How can teahers teach calcus when students assigned to her classroom cannot multiply and divide.
    w
    When are you going to address these behavioral, social and dysfunctional administrative problems that confront them daily?

    April 18, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  50. Nancy

    In your broadcast, you cited a number of around $11,000 to educate a single student. Do you have any information on how that $11,000 is divided up? Books? Teachers' salaries? School facilities? Administration? While we all know that simply throwing more money at education is not the answer, smarter spending is no doubt part of the answer.

    April 18, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  51. Bob Brown

    Secretary Duncan's words don't match his actions. I am a high school history teacher. At the same time he talks about rewarding the best teachers, janitors and cooks, funding is being cut across this country, educators are being layed off, and programs are being cut. We are in a downward spiral fighting to survive as public schools. Where is the money cominf from to do what he says?

    April 18, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  52. humphred

    What is the education system doing to curb the high dropout rates of boys and also what is being done to get them into college and university

    April 18, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  53. Stan Foster

    Hello Don, I have two kids in community college and they are ready to move on to a 4 year university. I am wondering where I can turn to take advantage of the new college loans, since I do not qualify for financial aid. I understand there have been some beneficail changes for the students but we do not know where to turn to take advantage of them. Can you point us in the right direction. Thank you very much.

    April 18, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  54. gloria lewis

    Poverty is not destiny but it is almost impossible to progress when you are poor .I am not saying it cant be done but it makes a big difference .We need to change the way we look at life period my son tells me about kids that come to school talking about selling drugs to help their mom amd their sisters and brothers ,he also tell me about teachers saying to the kids i dont care if you learn i already have my education .
    Everyone is so stressed out and tired no one wants to go the extra mile to help anyone .I say the key to these problems is trying to find solutions to helping parents progress so they can help their own kids.Everyone is trying to save the kids if how about helping the parents .I do not believe my son will go to collage i cant afford it .I am a waitress my income is not stable enough i see too many kids so stress out getting high and drunk because of money i see to many homes destroyed because of my .Our health is more important than an education .I wish i could do it but suppose one of us get sick then what .
    I tried so many times to progress i have been riped off by so many companys .I lost 8400 to a cleaning franchise ,i lost over 6000 on an invention all i got was paper work ,i lost another 800 to another invention company .They said they could help me after they got my money they refuse to answer my calls .Whats sad is that all these people are still in bussiness ripping of poor people is not that some of us dont try but its very hard .If they would put programs in place to help parents the parents can help their own kids .
    They are so many parents that could get a higher paying job but because they do not have the money to go from the time to leave one job to the times they get they first check on the next job so they are stuck .They is also the fear of the job not working out ,i wonder if anyone has any idea how hard it is on poor families to get ahead in life .

    April 18, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  55. Lee Schubert

    arne duncan is all rhetoric, he says what what we been through, what should be done, and what we need to do. he offers no viable solutions that need to be taken step by step. a typical polition that came from a municipal post, where he excelled, to a fed post where he is nothing but useless words we already know without offering a solution that will actually be of value. we do not need to hear what the kids are going through, or what the teachers are going through, we need to hear realistic steps to solve our problem of our kids so underacademically taught that they will never compete with others

    April 18, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  56. Sheron Fulson

    Thank you for your conversation regarding education. It has been stated that if you think education is expensive - try ignorance. As an individual who has had to pay back student loans I share the sentiments of those individuals who wonder how will they pay for post secondary education for their kids. I currently work with both college youth and college bound youth through providing summer internships for them to earn while they learn. One of the things I find troubling is the fact that many many youth are caught in between a rock and a hard place as their parents make a few dollars above the income guideline for the pell grant and fasfa. Can the current administration consider raising the income guideline to at least 250% above the proverity line to capture more youth who desire and has worked toward going to college? Your consideration of my question is greatly appreciated. FYI...if a person teaches for 5 years in a public school system his/her student loan will be forgiven and not the 10 years Mr. Arne stated. However, that may be dependent upon individual states.

    April 18, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  57. mhowie

    I would like to know how if we move to longer school days, how are we going to deal with the obesity issues with our children. Sitting all day then spending hours doing homework has made it impossible for children to be children. How will we keep our children from becoming more obese? How are we encouraging family time and community time when more time will be spent at school? Will the new standardized tests be used to improve education and not made to trick students? Will testing again be used to help our children and educators know where our children need help?

    April 18, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
  58. James Kamando

    The main reason that America's children lag behind is : They have no passion , they have no dream , and they can not make the connection between a good education and a better life down the road.
    Also the educational system is disconnected and disjointed , for instance , high school exams should all be run federally instead of being run by at the State level as in most countries . There should be one high school exam that decides whether a candidate pursues further education at college level , that exam should also be the one that decides whether a candidate graduates from high school . Then : the US should match other international examinations in quality , for example the UK General Certificate of Education and the Advanced level certificate of education , or the International Baccalaureate diploma.
    Then it should be drummed downwards to kindergaten , in our kids minds that for their well being , passing this exam is absolutely necessary .
    Most schools I have seen here are very small , they are under invested, for instance , you can not compare Philadelphia High school -this school carries the name of Philadelphia ! with Nairobi School , in Kenya in terms of facilities , Nairobi school not only has huge working science labs but has housing ! modern town houses for teachers on the school campus . The kids in Nairobi school return this favor by a 100% pass rate , most join leading Universities , more than half make medical school , Law school , business school , Nairobi school has consistently produced leaders for Kenya! I am have not even mentioned : The Alliance High School Kiambu, Starehe Boys Center , Lenana School Braeburn School , .Not all schools are like these in Kenya , the majority are poor schools but at least the students have spirit!

    April 18, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  59. Annette Bennett

    What are plans to stop technology colleges from accepting students without a high school diploma or GED? This is one o fthe contributing factors to students not taking their education seriously.
    What are suggestions for dealing with the consistent discipline problem student that creates problems in the classroom preventing other students from learning?
    Does the Middle School conept of teams really work or should we go back to teachers teaching using their own talents versus having to teach how another teacher does? Often teachers are being told that they have to teach the same thing on a daily basis as another teach in the same academic area. Problem is that not all students learn the same way or at the same pace. This keeps teachers from being as creative as they can be.
    I have been teaching for 10 years now and would like to know how to get my student loans forgiven. Where do I get the information to pursue this privilege that was mentioned in your interview with the Federal Education Secretary on April 18, 2010?
    I agree that things need to change in the educational arena and that band-adis need to stop. Young people deserve the best from everyone and every opportunity to learn.
    Thank you for this opportunity to express some of my concerns.

    April 18, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  60. paula browning

    What will be the consequences for the school districts in Texas if Texas does not sign on with the program this administration wants to put in place?

    April 18, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
  61. B.T. Mendelsohn

    About wasted resource of under-educated population: I am concerned that ensuring that all of our population has the opportunity to get college educations will result in many more unemployed college graduates. I recall that India's massive population some years ago included 250 million graduate engineers, who were grumbling about lack of opportunities for engineers. Today, many American tech jobs have been exported to India. Do the examples of success that Secretary Duncan cited include people who created more U.S. jobs?

    April 18, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  62. Nina Iscandri

    My name is Nina Iscandri. I am a Wife, mom and a student. My husband works in retail and I work as a maid. We have six kids. One of our sons is 19 years old and a full time college student. We do not make a lot of money, but we do not qualify for financial aid. We had to get student loans for our son to go to college. The most disturbing thing is that we still have to pay out off pocket for his tuition. I am in college also, studying to be a special education teacher. Currently I am attending a community college because we can not afford a four year college. I am almost done, and I am now very concern that I can not afford transfering to a four year college. Getting student loan for me to go to school is out of the question. I am 42 years old, and want to go as far as getting my PHd. What can I do to find help in accomplishing my dream. Thanks!

    April 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  63. James Kamando

    With the passion that I have ! I tried substituting recently , I because I can not drive yet I rode to the High School on my bike..The kids in my class laughed me out of town and they chose not to take my instruction because of this simple fact , reason! all of them were being dropped in the school compound by their parent's cars , they saw me as really needy , of course I did not tell them that I already have a college degree , and I am getting my second degree in nursing and this is why I was hard up . These kids do not realize that they will be working factory jobs , or as earning $7.50 an hour if they continue down this road. I was amazed at this attitude , this is a generation we are raising ! what is happening to our children's dreams?

    April 18, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  64. Olinda

    I don't know how the secretary of education is talking about education being more accesible and about those programs. As the mother of a young man who'll be graduating from college in June (the loan's total amount is very close to $80,000) and a teen who'll be going to college this fall, I know just how difficult is to pay for those school loans, the only way we could manage for our kids to go to college. So we have Sally Mae and the department of Education owning those loans at 8 plus % so go figure how much our oldest college education will end up costing.

    April 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  65. syed hussain

    Beg to differ on one issue Mr.secretary.Order of the day in any school should be Reading, Writing ,arithmatic and science.In days of yore parents sent their children to evening schoolsthat were run privately for dance ,music, classes.And thats how it ought to be.Above mentioned subjects are the ones our kids are behind compared to european kids and they spend a lot less per student than we do.On the other issue of two billion dollars you stated about aid to schools; there are seven elementary schools ,one middle and one high school in my town alone, so how far this money will go if we are talking about spreading this money all across america's schools! this is chump change.
    thank you.

    April 18, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  66. Norah, South Euclid, OH

    Questions for Secretary Duncan

    Hi. Thank you for doing the townhall! I teach and am going for my master's in early childhood special ed. Unfortunately, I missed most of the first half as I didn't know about it and happened to come across it, so I apologize if I ask anything that was covered:

    When a kid is suspected of having a disability, there are legal timelines for the Intervention Assistance Team ONLY if a parent requests intervention/testing, not if a teacher does (which surprised me). That means a kid can struggle and feel awful about him/herself without getting the appropriate interventions and then testing in place. Is there any push to add timelines for IAT and testing if a student is referred by the teachers? If not, WHY NOT?

    Do you think that mandated class size should be smaller in urban districts or areas with a high number of students eligible for free lunch? How might that help with behavior?

    For teachers who manage student behaviors well, it is a small part of the job. For those who don't, they become ineffective at communicating the curriculum. Yet many teacher prep programs do not really explicitly teach this. Should this be changed? Should there be mandated professional development on classroom management?

    So many schools take struggling students, sometimes in the middle of the year, and are penalized for the way these students perform on high-stakes tests. What can be done to better measure a school's performance based on student growth? And what will be done to better ensure that these tests are not culturally biased (even after years of discussion about this, they still are)?

    April 18, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  67. Yves

    I did not watch the entire show on education. Did he talk about the importance of parents and guardians involvement in their children education?
    Show a household with good parents involvment and I will show you a household with well adapted and successful students.

    April 18, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
  68. Grant McMIcken

    Dear Mr. Lemon, Please ask Secretary Duncan how we can duplicate the Urban Prep School that has a total of 445 students with 91 staff. I teach at Alisal HS in Salinas, CA and I am a candidate for SSPI in CA. My five classes have 180 students, no aides, students from low income and disadvantged families, a fifth grade reading level, even lower math levels, very poor attitudes, poor study habits, etc. I am supposed to teach them geometry. Please have the Secretary enlighten me! Also, inform the secretary that we do not need to "Race To The Top" but we do need to "Race From The Bottom". To be quite truthful, I do not expect a reply to this email.

    April 18, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  69. Thomas Thibeault

    I have been teaching for thirty years with a record of proven success. My administrators are victimizing me and ending my career. There is nothing within the system to protect me from administrative bullying. Is there anybody who can help me and the others who are trapped in such a situation?

    April 18, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  70. Larry Wrede

    President Obam in speech to students: "But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed."

    The current focus is on the teachers for fixing the schools. Why have administrators and school boards been left out? They make a lot of money not to be held accountable. What about fixing the socio-economic conditions that lend support to chronic absenteeism and chronic behavior problems? Scapegoating the teachers as a means to a quick fix and holding administrators harmless only delays efforts to finding long term solutions. What about requiring some responsibility by the student per President Obama's suggestions in his speech to students?

    April 18, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  71. Gary Groth

    I am a National Board Certified Teacher with 30+ years of teaching experience teaching 4th grade at an elementary school in Florida. My scores have been consistently at the top of my team. This year, instead of continuing my successful strategies, I have been forced to "teach to the test", required to teach following a rigid schedule and allowed no flexibility in my classroom. Rather than encouraging my proven success, I am being forced to teach the same thing at the same time in the same way as every other teacher on my team. Is this in the best interest of my students? Teaching has become a nightmare and I just don't know what to do. My creativity has been destroyed and I am being forced to teach in ways that just don't work. I am now in a desperate search for a school that will allow me to be creative, teach critical thinking, and do what's best for my students. It's a sad day when a great teacher has to leave a school that needs him because his academic freedom and creativity have been destroyed. I need Arne Duncan to come see my classroom and really understand the dangers of his educational policies for my students. Otherwise I may have to leave my children behind and find a school that appreciates the work that I do for my kids.

    April 18, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  72. Eric Eisenhart

    Question for Arnie Duncan for next episode–
    Regarding updated textbooks in today's schools– Why are we not using electonic versions of texbooks in middle & high schools? The kids use electronic media seamlessly and electronic access to information and educational updates after all, is now the norm after graduation anyway for most adultsonce in the business world. Electronic curriculum could be updated in real time to be kept current, interesting and effective with refined presentation techniques. Books are 19th century and just another outdated education methodology rooted in agricultural era teaching pedagogy. Its time for real change in teaching and education delivery methods.

    April 18, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
  73. Chris Gleason

    Hello,
    I would like to ask how school boundaires affect school performances, I live in the wealthies county in the nation and my childrens school has failed APY twice. I know school boundaries are set up to benefit the most influencial. The school my children attend has higher numbers of SES disadvantaged children. Is there any recourse for parents like myself who just want our children to be successful in life and be well educated? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    April 18, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  74. Eric Eisenhart

    Question for Arnie Duncan for next episode:
    You support rewarding exceptional educators monitarily. Why not combine that reward with leveraging their abilities and creativity by using electronic distribution methodologies to thousands and thousands of students instead of limiting these few extraordinary successful educators' talents to just a few students in one classroom.
    It is time we utilize modern day electronic media including smartphones to access and leverage the talents of our most fun, engaging and effective educators. Using some of the design parameters used in engineering video games such as constant competition, use of music and motion, discovery, reward, overlearning, risk taking, and educational echelons attained thru achievement and mastery, we can blend the talents of our finest educators with the talents of our finest programmers for a true revolution in educational delivery.
    The "Tell & Test " method used for the past 200 years is no longer reaching the students in the modern day electronic world. They're dropping out because they're bored stiff–not because they are incapable. Its time for real change in education delivery.

    April 18, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
  75. Beverly

    I would like to ask Secty. Duncan the following: I teach at a California Community College. There is a gap between the President's vision of community colleges as 21st Century training gounds, and what is actually happening. Classes are being cancelled, students are being turned-away, instructors are being laid off. How do you plan to correct these contradictions and inconsistencies if community colleges are to be competitive and accessible? Thank you

    April 18, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
  76. Elizabeth

    What are Secretary Duncan's thoughts about a common college/university financial aid offer form–to accompany a college/university's offer of admission–which would be the next logical step to take after the clarifying of the FASFA form?

    April 18, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  77. Jeremy Gorman

    Secretary Duncan,
    People mature younger than they did when our school system was established, and today both parents work outside the home. Why don't we start formal education at age three, when tests show that our learning capacity maximizes. Most three year-olds are in either day care or preschool anyhow–let's make it official and educational. Kids today learn at three what I learned at five. They should graduate at 16 instead of 18. They aren't yet ready for college yet, so we employ them for one year in non-profit, government, military, or other civic activity at minimum wage while they learn to balance the checkbook and take personal responsibility and earn money for college while still under parental guidance. I'Il bet that the teenage pregnancy rate would drop, by half if we did that.

    April 18, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
  78. JOY WHITE

    Dear Don:
    With regards to "Fixing America's Schools" I would like to ask Secretary Duncan what are his thoughts on students wearing uniforms. I have been observing the featured schools who have excelled and have beaten the odds and their attire spoke volumes. It is my opinion that students wearing uniforms will eliminate numerous peer pressures and encourage constructive behavoral patterns. This concept is working for the armed forces, other professional groups and without a doubt will work for students.

    April 18, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  79. Emmanuel Nikiema

    How to get a student loan to go back to school ful time and still be able to afford the cost of living?

    April 18, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
  80. Robert Leski

    Arne Duncan was sincere, but said nothing I had not heard several decades ago. There are no solutions in this program, just more useless spending to meet the problems. The structure of education needs to be changed. We do not have an idea of structure and social systems because education is dominated by pseudo-educational psychology. Changing the structure involves changes from K-College, not just getting all students ready for college. As a matter of fact, preparing all students for college is a misguided goal.

    I have offered to consult with key individual in education and Sec. Duncan to no avail. Bob Leski, Prof. Emeritus

    April 18, 2010 at 9:56 pm |
  81. Mr. Datta

    Dear Don,

    I just watched your interview with Arne Duncan. I am very happy that the administration was able to pass laws to ease the cost of a college education, but I do not think they went far enough. While income based repayments, and forgiveness after 10/20 years is amazing for many, it does not address the fact that 4 years of college easily costs $80,000 – $100,000. This is at a state institution. Simply having loan forgiveness without addressing the high interest rates (I think they should be capped at 2%) is not enough to help low income families get their children through a basic 4 year degree and maybe into more advanced studies. So, if a student needs more education, say a J.D., M.P.A., or M.B.A. (though companies will pay for MBA's sometimes), they will have to take out an additional $100,000. $200,000 is a stifling amount of debt. And the 6.8 – 8.25% interest rates that anyone who took out loans before 2009 has, makes it impossible to even consider getting an advanced degree. There are many who would argue that a student should "live within his/her means" but for a young man or women trying to compete with more privileged children, is it appropriate that he or she should not be able to pursue a law degree because of their undergraduate loans? Deferment is a good option if interest didn't collect on it, but with even 5% interest on top of a $100,000 debt load, that is an added $5,000 or more a year. Again, there are obviously ways to get law school paid for, but anyone who begins their law career for a non-profit loses out on the ability to compete at a higher legal lever later on in his/her career. These are just some thoughts from a soon to be graduate.

    April 18, 2010 at 9:57 pm |
  82. Laura S.

    My frustration is with the determination through the FAFSA application process of my liability paying for my son's college.

    I am a single mother with a son in his first year of college. I am a U.S. Government civilian who volunteered to go overseas for a rotation in Central Asia for 5 years. I own a small townhouse in the DC metropolitan area, which I bought 10 years ago for $130,000.

    The FAFSA will not allow me to declare my townhouse, which is now valued at $300,000, as my primary residence, since I don't *currently* live in it. The system treats my home as "investment income", which ensures that I do not receive any help at all

    I am a government employee on a government salary. I struggled and made sacrifices for 18 years to put enough money away to ensure that my son could attend college without having to take out crushing loans. A family making twice what I'm making, living in a million-dollar home, does not have to list its home on the FAFSA, but I do. A family that didn't save a penny over the years, but bought expensive housing, expensive cars, and went on expensive vacations, is more likely to get a break on tuition than I will.

    1. Is the new legislation going to address the inequity of government personnel serving overseas having to declare their primary residences, to which they will return after their service periods are over, as "investment income?"
    2. Will there be steps taken to reward low- and mid-income single parents for saving for college instead of punishing them and rewarding spend thrifts?

    April 18, 2010 at 9:58 pm |
  83. Anthony

    Hello Don,
    I heard in the report that those individuals that perform "public service," get assistance on their student loans; i.e. primary and secondary school educators,etc. But does that equally apply to adjunct faculty at colleges and universities? As most adjunct work remains "part time" as opposed to "full time" status, would the public service apply to those educators?

    April 18, 2010 at 10:00 pm |
  84. Tim Fritz

    I would like to ask Secretary Duncan what his experience at running something is....a business, something with profit and loss experience. 2nd question is, do you really think that you are going to be able to create another federal bureaucracy that is more efficient than the banks are at processing student loans....it is absolutely incomprehensible that people who are not accountable to ANY standards will be able to process this more efficiently than a company that has an existing infrastructure and does it for a profit. I will bet my entire retirement that within a year or two this bureauracy is costing billions more than the banks. 3rd question is.....what is the incentive to colleges to reduce costs when the government just keeps increasing the money available to go to school. There is a direct correlation between increasing government involvement in funding college and the increase in college costs.

    April 18, 2010 at 10:06 pm |
  85. Barbara Lipscomb

    I am curious as to why Christian Gomez (as well as her mother) chose private and, therefore, very costly colleges in Marymount and USC.

    April 18, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
  86. Smith in Oregon

    Perhaps with the Democratic lawmakers a majority in both the House and US Senate as well as in the White House, America's public schools and colleges can finally begin to receive their sadly needed full attention on how to regain America's large loss of citizens with higher educational degree's compared to nearly all nations around the world.

    With the Republicans creating two foreign wars and the massive wall street bail out for another 700 billion dollars those needs severely gutted domestic spending on education. President Obama is slowly turning that funding direction around to domestic spending once again.

    I hope that students able to vote, support President Obama and his fellow Democrats in the House, Senate and Presidential Election cycles.

    April 18, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
  87. Brittany

    I just watched the piece about the cost of college. It was mentioned that some professionals, such as teachers, can have their student loans erased after working in that field for 10 years. I am a certified teacher who graduated in December of 2007. I still have $22,000 in student loans to pay off. In August of 2008 my husband joined the Army. Since then, we have been moving every few months and will shortly be moving to Germany. Because of this, I have not yet had a full time teaching position and any position I may get in the years to come will not be kept for 10 years. Is there anything I can do about my student loans according to this new law? From what I have heard, this law sounds beneficial to a lot of people. I just want to know if it might be beneficial to me as well.

    April 19, 2010 at 12:55 am |
  88. Sandra

    I looked into the Public Service Forgiveness Program because I need help, but it seems unlikely that it would work for me. It requires that you have full time public service employment, but in my lifetime, I have never seen jobs that actually qualify for any of the programs that they have out there. And if they did...that's a long time. Rare that jobs last that long. (More likely they would fire you right before it actually worked. You would work for them for 9 years and 11 months and they would fire you because it doesn't work until you have 10 years. They get your money and your life because someone made a mathematical model that we make more money if we go to college so they think they have a license to hose us for life. They suck every penny they can get out of us...schools are the worst. Honestly, I can't advocate school anymore. They are as bad, if not worse, than health care about lying to people.) That kind of job security only exists for the priveledged few it seems. Programs that people can't use aren't very helpful...it just sounds good for elections or something. I seem to run into those. They aren't real. Sounds like they did something on television, but there's really nobody that can use it. They may have been made to work for someone, but its never me...or anyone that I know. Never seems realistic. Must work for someone, but no clue who.

    April 19, 2010 at 12:57 am |
  89. Sandra

    Schools are out of touch with everything. About 40 years behind.

    April 19, 2010 at 1:34 am |
  90. Sandra

    We have higher aspirations for our schools. Too much to write here.

    April 19, 2010 at 1:36 am |
  91. Paul

    What about addressing the waste of colleges? Doing that would save money of the gov't and of college families.

    April 19, 2010 at 4:51 am |
  92. Monique Ward

    I have struggled with having to pay for school all on my own. I am currently working towards two Bachelors degrees. This is what will separate me from my competition however, it has been ridiculously expensive! With that said, I was excited to hear about the additional funding for higher education. My question is: will these laws only benefit students in the future or will they apply to current students as well? Secretary Duncan mentioned income based repayment and loan forgiveness after 10 years of public service, which sounds very interesting and would be so helpful, but will this actually apply to me?

    April 19, 2010 at 4:54 am |
  93. Tre

    I filled out a fafsa form for the 2009 fall semester and never received any help. I was told by my professor, it could be because I only took 6 semester hours. The problem is I worked a full time schedule barley clearing enough to pay my bills at home, and when I try to better myself I can't receive help. My course was Emt-basic class, we not only have school, but also have to ride on an ambulance, and do hospital clinicals while working a full time schedule. Shouldn't there be special considerations on fafsa for people working a full time schedule and only able to take 6 hours of school at a time. I know that 6 hours shouldn't be alot of money, but when you make what I bring in it's a choice between being behind on a bill and playing catch up or paying for school.

    April 19, 2010 at 4:54 am |
  94. Nicole

    Don, these are questions for the Education Secretary Arne Duncan. I left these same questions on your FB page, but I am posting them here as well to make sure you see them. Can you PLEASE ask him a 2 part question for me and the hundreds of others I know who want to know the answers to these questions. No one seems to be bringing it up in the news and it's a huge problem.

    The higher education bill did many things to help current and future students. However, the bill did not address the issues with recent grads nor did it address private loans.

    Can the government work to allow PRIVATE student loans to be consolidated on the federal level so that those loans can be included in the Income Based Repayment solution?

    What actions does the government plan on taking to address protections for the borrowers who take out loans with PRIVATE lenders?

    Thanks.

    April 19, 2010 at 5:10 am |
  95. Himanshu Patel

    Hello Don!

    I watched your hosting of town hall meeting on US Education over the weekend. Excellent job!!

    Education really has become a huge burden especially for low income families and thus on US. Students from low income family (who has to deal with many more real issues compared to high-income families), can not afford (in time and money) tutoring classes which cause them to score consistently low on exams like GRE and SAT, consistently about 15% lower compared to students from high-income families, which hurt their chances of getting scholarships and grants and admission to a good college which clearly hurt their chances of success and breaking out of the vicious cycle.

    I came to US about 20 years ago and did my Highschool in Elizabeth and Newark, NJ. Having never spoken English before coming to US and growing up in not so affluent neighborhood gave me and my friends a lot of leaning curve/obstacles. Fortunately I was able to manage to achieve higher education and make something of my career. (I have a BS and MS in Aerospace Engineering and great work experience including 3 years at NASA. I recently also got an MBA from Smith School of Business). However many of my classmates and friends were not able to reach their full potential.

    I strongly believe education is a critical deciding factor in improving one’s life and having reached a satisfied place in life compared to where I started, I wanted to do something meaningful with my extra time and help others, especially kids from low-income families improve their chances for a better education and future. Having gained all this education, I was thinking to help may be through using internet. I am writing you to ask if you or Mr. Duncan can suggest helpful resources or guidance or other help for a citizen like me.

    Thank you very much for your time, and again great work on the town hall.

    Himanshu.

    April 19, 2010 at 7:30 am |
  96. Karen Brown

    Hello Don, I thought the Fixing America's Schools segment/townhall meeting was fantastic!!!!!! Mr. Duncan and the President plans are just what is needed to see that many will be able to afford higher education and lay ground work so that all of our kids will have the opportunity to get an excellent education with excellent teachers. I applaud the efforts. I am a wife and mother of 4 attending school fulltime. My husband works and also take online classes fulltime. Our two oldest children attend college as well. And we have one in high school and preschool. So you can imagine how much the High Education Act will benefit our family. Our family philosphy is to be the change that you want to see in the world. And if it is to be, it is up to me. It begins with a good education. Again, great townhall. I invite you to visit our town. And see what we are doing in Southern Illinois. Blessings Karen Brown

    April 19, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  97. ken

    duncan needs to take a hike. We don't need a department of education to spend billions of dollars telling local schools what tests to take. Abolish this big waste of money along with nasa. Earth to obama we have a 65 trillion dollar debt problem on earth. If you can read, write and operate a computer you can handle 90% of the wonderful customer service jobs this country has to offer. The more the feds stick their nose in education the faster the costs will rise.

    April 19, 2010 at 10:08 am |
  98. Jeryl

    This may be politically incorrect, but it's true. since 1966-67, national standardized test scores have fallen, despite the fact that the norms on the test have been changed at least six times (i.e., read that "dumbed down"). Teenage pregnancies have sky-rocketed, as well as per capita crimes of all sorts. Care to guess what happed in 1966-67? Those are the years when prayer and the Bible were removed from public schools. Look it up for yourself. Our schools are failing to properly educate children because most of our teachers are having to do damage control. Teachers are unable to properly discipline children because parents believe their little darlings couldn't possibly be guilty of anything. Teachers are having to teach dumbed down courses, politically correctness, ad nauseum. We need to get back to basics and parents need to start parenting again.

    April 19, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  99. Russell Penn

    I watched a portion of the town hall meeting and heard Secretary Duncan mention a $10,000 tax credit for collge cost. Could someone please send me some additional information regarding this matter and the requirements for elgibility of this credit.

    Thanks

    April 19, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  100. Kody

    My father and I had a great conversation about what might help the education system. We came up that if kids from ages K-8 went to school year round, would ultimately employ half again as many teachers. doing this would allow our children to be more educated before they went to high school. We had also talked about how kids could/should be working on our future products for a greener tomorrow. IE: Farms, Wind Mills, Water Mills, Converting Salt Water to Drinkable water...simple projects like these at a young age would give our kids the experience they need to go out and actually accomplish the world's goals. Sadly the only thing missing is Money. What is that though but a value placed on item?

    April 21, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  101. janet long

    i watched the interview with mr. duncan, who knows the importance of a solid education for all american students, but was comcerned to hear of the lack of funding for pre-school programs. in illinois pre-school programs are being cut for the next school year because of insufficient funding. the children, whose parents depend on the program, will start kindergarten as a disadvantage. i feel educational budget cuts are counterproductive for these children.

    April 21, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
  102. Concerned Teacher

    As a high school teacher, I am constantly being called on the carpet and told to inflate my students' grades. I teach 9th graders. It is not uncommon for my students to do only about 1/3 of the assignments for a grading period and then expect a C or higher. How can I accurately assess knowledge of content if the students don't turn in their work? One administrator told me that I should be able to just "talk" with the students and know if they know the content. Well, you try chatting with 35 ninth graders (half with ADHD) about academic state standard content. Also, is the state dept. of education going to send someone to my classroom to chat with each student when it comes time for the end of course state standardized test? No. One administrator told me that I need to adjust my grading practices to meet the students' level of knowledge. What? The students' need to adjust their performance level to accurately demonstrate their knowledge of course content. I teach straight to the state standards. Nothing extra.

    I am also quite concerned with student conduct and the lack of support that teachers have in maintaining discipline. I have regular ed students who scream, bark like dogs, cuss like drunken sailors, and totally ignore my multiple requests/demands that they remain quiet for the lesson. I catch students cheating everyday. Students skip class everyday. I have 5 classes and have counted 65 students tardy in the last two weeks of classes. When I call home, parents act shocked, but student behavior does not change. After a dozen years teaching, I am getting fed up. The behavior gets worse and worse every year as these students are just passed along in grades K-8 (those teachers are probably just as worn down as I am).

    Now, they want to cut my salary. My salary that helps to pay to provide pens, pencils, paper, highlighters, scissors, glue, kleenex, bandaids, hand sanitizer, soap, etc. Not to mention treats/food for students who act like they haven't eaten in weeks. Also, we as a faculty, donate quite a bit to help families at school with groceries, rent, medical care, clothing, etc. Teachers are not just instructional robots. We are social workers, doctors, mothers, fathers, psychologists, and overall caregivers. Why would society keep taking money out of our pockets that we so freely reach into to give back to our schools and communities? Cutting teachers' pay is like slashing the throat of the community.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  103. Charles Yates

    RE TESTING:
    As a former teacher, I know that on testing days many students throw up because the pressure is so great. Custodial staff are on high alert. Is there any data on how many children throw up on these days? This may sound flippant and facetious but this happens alot. It is a sign of the times unfortunately.
    Don, Your work is outstanding!
    Charles

    April 24, 2010 at 4:55 pm |