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DAVE COOK: Thank you for coming. I'm Dave Cook from the Monitor. Our guest this morning is Education Secretary Arne Duncan. This is his second visit with the "Better Journalism Through Bacon" group. He was back here in June of 2009. He comes from a family of educators. His father, Starkey Duncan, was a Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago, and in 1961, his mother founded an after school program serving African-American youth on Chicago's Southside after discovering that her nine year-old Bible study students couldn't read. The Sue Duncan Children's Center is now run by our guest's brother, Owen. So from early age, our guest was helping others learn. He attended the Chicago Laboratory Schools, graduated with honors from Harvard and after graduation played professional basketball in Australia. After a tour in the land of sports, he moved full-time into the world of education, serving first as director of the Ariel Education Initiative in Chicago. Next, he was deputy chief of staff to the CEO of Chicago Schools, and in 2001, Mayor Daley named our guest CEO of the city school system, a post he held before becoming Education Secretary. By some counts, that made Secretary Duncan the longest-serving big city education superintendent in the country. In the acid test of sincerity, the Secretary's two young children attend public school in Arlington. So much for biography. Now onto mundane matters of process. As always, we're on the record here. There's no embargo. There's no live blogging or Twittering. We've had some problems with that recently. So let me say again, there is no live blogging or Twittering. After the session is over, feel free to give into your wildest multimedia urges. As always, if you'd like to ask a question, please send me a subtle, non-threatening signal and I'll call on one and all. We'll start off by offering our guest the opportunity to make some brief opening comments, and then we'll move to questions from around the able, starting with Cynthia Tucker, Miles Benson and Mort Kondracke. With that, thanks for coming, sir. SECRETARY DUNCAN: I promise not to Twitter, because I don't know how. So I'll be very, very quick, and then open it up. This is obviously an extraordinary time to be working in education. I think you're seeing the importance of "Educating Our Way to a Better Economy" start to resonate around the country in ways that it hasn't. You're seeing popular culture starting to get involved, whether it's "Waiting For Superman" or three more education movies coming after that. Oprah's doing shows on it. I'm going to be on Oprah on Friday, Education Nation, NBC Summit. The President's going to be on there. There's just a different level of conversation in this country that I think is very, very healthy, and we're thrilled to see that happening. We're obviously been thrilled to save, you know, close to 150, 160 thousand jobs this school year. This was hugely important to us, and this idea of both saving jobs and driving very significant reform. You're seeing across the country unprecedented reform at the K to 12 level, whether it's Race to the Top, whether it's school improvement grants, Promise Neighborhoods planning grants we put out yesterday, coming in the next two days. Tomorrow actually will be Teacher Incentive Fund resources. You have more and more districts doing creative things, and I think all of this is very, very positive. Also working to really try and strengthen the teaching profession, thinking a lot about how we get the next generation of great talent to come into education. We talk a lot about a baby boomer generation that's retiring, and a chance to recruit a million new teachers into education, trying to create a different climate in which the hardest-working and the most committed young people in our country want to go into education. Then finally all of this is toward sort of the President's long term goal of leading the world in college graduates. So significantly increasing Pell grants; trying to focus not just no access but completion; making sure that, you know, ten years from now -- We've gone from first to ninth in the world in college graduates. Ten years from now, the President's drawn a line in the sand and said he wants us to lead the world in college graduates. So everything's towards that end. Lots of hard work ahead of us, but honestly if, you know, we started this 20 months ago. If folks would have thought we'd be in this position today when we started, that would have far exceeded my wildest hopes. It's because of -- it's not anything we're doing here in Washington. It's really this unleashing of courage and innovation and creativity at the local level. We talked a lot about this idea of a quiet revolution, and what you're seeing is just tremendous courage amongst governors and state school chief officers, local boards, local supes, local union leaders, doing the right thing for children. It's been very, very encouraging and we're going to continue to push it hard. One thing, just to challenge you guys with all these gubernatorial elections around the country. I think really, you know, everyone says they're the education this, the education that. But really challenging every gubernatorial candidate to find out where they stand and what are they working on, and how committed are they to their state's Race to the Top focus. I think this is becoming a voting issue as we go into these November elections. There's no downside to that, and lots of upside, and you guys can really help to foster a vigorous conversation there. I'll stop and open it up. MR. COOK: Okay. Let me ask you two quick ones, or maybe one to foster the vigorous conversation. President Obama's been arguing that, at least in the area of economic policy, giving Republicans control of Congress risks putting the nation back in the ditch, in other words. How would you describe the 2010 election stakes for education policy? Would it necessarily be bad for students if John Boehner, who was a supporter of No Child Left Behind, became speaker? SECRETARY DUNCAN: Well, what I've said repeatedly is that education has to be the one issue that we put politics and ideology to the side, and we have tried to work very hard in a bipartisan way to do the right thing by children. You have seen partisan divides on some issues. We fought very, very hard to stop subsidizing banks and to put $60 billion into increased Pell grants for students. Obviously, lots of Republican leadership didn't like that. So we disagreed on that one. But in terms of fixing No Child Left Behind and going to the next level, that's something we've been working very closely on what we call the "Big Eight," the House and Senate leadership, Republican and Democrats, both sides of the aisle, and we're going to continue to move forward in that way. MR. COOK: One last from me and then we'll go to Cynthia. Bob Samuelson in Newsweek wrote a column recently, which said that the major cause of educational failure is "shrunken student motivation," and that there is an inherent conflict between expanding access to high school and achievement. He argues that school reform promises more disillusion. Could you talk about the role of motivation and whether, in essence, some aspects of progress are doomed to fail as a result of some attempts at progress? SECRETARY DUNCAN: I couldn't disagree more, and I'd ask him, you know, ask anyone, go to any high-performing high school or elementary, and you'll see extraordinarily motivated students. You'll see students working hard; you'll see students engaged in their own learning. You'll see students, you know, I've been in hundreds and hundreds of schools, and I can't tell you how motivated students are. I'll tell you in many places, the students are asking the teachers to give them more work. They're asking to be pushed harder. Are there students who struggle? Yes. Is every student all, you know, uniquely, highly motivated? Of course not. The biggest challenge is working with children where, you know, mom got beaten up last night or dad got locked up for something, you know. Those are the challenges of students. But to act like the student's fault that we're not doing a good job educating them, I just couldn't more vigorously disagree, and again, I challenge anyone else to go visit any high-performing school, and you'll see hundreds and hundreds of highly engaged students, often from very difficult backgrounds. MR. COOK: Cynthia? MONITOR BREAKFAST: Mr. Secretary, there is a conventional wisdom forming in Washington after Mayor Fenty's defeat, that his loss and Michelle Rhee's likely departure mean that the teacher accountability part of Race to the Top is dead on arrival. Teachers unions -- SECRETARY DUNCAN: Dead on arrival where? MONITOR BREAKFAST: Everywhere. The teachers unions contributed heavily to his rival. What do you think Mayor Fenty's defeat and Rhee's likely departure mean for education reform, particularly the accountability part, because she had fired more than 200 teachers and principals. SECRETARY DUNCAN: I think the plans they put in place will continue, and again, if that's conventional wisdom, I'm just -- I see the world so differently. You know, if Vince Gray becomes the mayor, he's going to be passionately committed to improving the quality of education. He knows what's at stake here. D.C. has made tremendous progress. D.C. desperately needs to continue to make significant progress. D.C. for a long time was frankly a national disgrace educationally. It was an embarrassment, and it's amazing to me that the Nation's Capitol was allowed to languish with a dysfunctional system for so long. So there's been huge progress. It's clearly not there yet, a long way to go, and that momentum, that progress absolutely has to continue with a renewed sense of urgency. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Even though the teachers unions contributed heavily to Adrian Fenty's opponent, because they were angry with Rhee's firing of the teachers. SECRETARY DUNCAN: You know, it's a democracy, and teachers unions can contribute as they want to contribute, you know. If you're asking me is reform going to continue in D.C., absolutely, and is there a sense of urgency amongst everyone? Absolutely. Is there a sense that D.C. has not arrived yet? Absolutely. This work will continue, will go on. I think there was tremendous public recognition of how far the District progressed under Michelle's leadership. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Were there any lessons, just real quickly, from the defeat, Fenty's defeat? I mean did you -- SECRETARY DUNCAN: You guys are political pundits. I mean you guys are much better at drawing political lessons than I am. So yes, I'm sure there's lots of lessons there. But if anyone thinks, you know, all the polls showed that the public thought public education got better in D.C. That was absolutely clear. MR. COOK: Miles. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Mr. Secretary, considering your word of cheer just a couple of minutes ago about doing right by children and doing a good job educating them, does the Secretary of Education think that should global warming and climate change be everywhere part of the public school curriculum in this country, and is it and what should children be talking about? SECRETARY DUNCAN: Well, we don't do curriculum from the Department of Education. So but I do think a well-rounded education generally is hugely important to students, and one of the things we've seen under No Child Left Behind is a narrowing of the curriculum, just a focus on Math and Science, Math and Reading. While that's important, so is Science, so is Social Studies, so is foreign languages, so is Art and Dance and Drama and Music and financial literacy and environmental literacy. So I think a broad-based, well-rounded curriculum is desperately needed, and we want to put a billion dollars behind that effort. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Can you suggest what, if anything, children should be taught about, since there is quite a dispute in the country about it, or it seems to be, over the accuracy of the forecasts that scientists (inaudible). SECRETARY DUNCAN: Well, let's teach children about the dispute then. MONITOR BREAKFAST: What? SECRETARY DUNCAN: Let's teach children about the dispute. I mean, you know, let's engage children in this conversation. But having our children be good stewards of the environment, I think, is a very healthy thing to do, to have our -- teach our students compassion for humanity is a very good thing to teach, and let's engage students in that conversation. MR. COOK: We're going next to Mort Kondracke, Todd Gilman, Francis Keeper, Lynn Suite and Catherine Skeva. Mort? MONITOR BREAKFAST: I have a higher ed question. So there is now a movement, obviously a strong movement running in favor of accountability and high standards and high expectations and value in K to 12. But where are we in the process of making sure kids who get into college graduate, and that their degree means something? Where is that process and what are you doing about that? SECRETARY DUNCAN: So one big thing we did just on the transparency side was when students fill out the FACA form and say I want my, you know, results sent to three universities, we get them now in the form of what those universities' graduation rates are. That was interesting. Not everybody thought that was a great idea. We thought that was pretty basic. And so I think at the end of the day, what we have continued to do, we have -- universities aren't too dissimilar to high schools. You see some universities who do a great job of helping students who are first generation, are English language learners, you know, graduate. Other that do a good job, others do a good job of giving us what we need, while others don't have a real idea about completion. So the more that we continue to shine a spotlight on that, the more time we can think about how we reward those places that are doing a fantastic job, and again, the President's 2020 goal isn't about sending students to college; it's about having them graduate at the back end. I'll give you one example just from yesterday. We met with a phenomenal university president, Michael Crow from Arizona State University. He is dramatically expanding access to his university, particularly amongst the disadvantaged and minority community. He's dramatically expanding graduation rates at the university and keeping a very high bar. He's built a tremendous culture around completion, around support, and we want to find a way. That's just one example from yesterday, so it's at the top of my mind. There are many others like that. But we want to continue to find ways to spotlight those successes, recognize them, reward them, and also where folks aren't doing such a great job, have that honest conversation as well. MONITOR BREAKFAST: There's a lot of criticism that the university value is opaque, that nobody can really tell whether they are -- that self-reporting is not enough. So what are you doing there? SECRETARY DUNCAN: Right now, I don't know if we're doing a ton there. What I will say is I do think our country has the best system of higher education in the world. I do think we have, you know, thousands of good options, and I think students and parents are going to vote with their feet, and where there's not good value, where costs are escalating way above inflation, you know, students aren't going to go. How you measure value-added to higher ed, you know, there's been some debate on that, you know. That's a tough nut to crack. But I think we have a lot of great options, and where there isn't academic rigor, where there are escalating costs, I think those universities are going to lose out over time. The marketplace is going to play there. MR. COOK: Todd. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Thanks. Mr. Secretary, I want to ask you about the funding dispute with Texas, the $830 million that the state has not been able to get because of this Doggett Amendment. I imagine you're maybe somewhat familiar with this, the legislation that says the governor would have to certify a maintenance of effort over three years, which he cannot do or says he can't do under the state constitution, because there's a two-year budgeting cycle. Is Texas ever going to be able to get its share of that particular funding? SECRETARY DUNCAN: I'm very hopeful they will, and there's a huge need there, and I think we've worked through other issues with Texas in the past and had some back and forth, you know. We've always gotten good dialogue, and I'm hopeful we will here. MONITOR BREAKFAST: What would it take for them to get that money? SECRETARY DUNCAN: We're still negotiating with them, so I don't want to, you know, go into too much detail. But do I think Texas will be able to get access to that money? The short answer is yes. MONITOR BREAKFAST: How concerned are you that Texas and other states, I guess, are using that money simply to balance their state budgets? SECRETARY DUNCAN: Well, they have -- you know, the way Congress wrote the law, they can use that money, you know, this school year and through next school year, so they have that right. We desperately want to save jobs now, but states can, you know, states have the ability, as Congress wrote the law, to use money for this school year and next school year. So -- MONITOR BREAKFAST: And I guess my last question, I appreciate your indulgence, is as you say, there have been issues with Texas before. Is Texas getting picked on by this administration? SECRETARY DUNCAN: Heck no. We're trying to make this as easy as possible for Texas. How are we picking on Texas? We're trying to give them $700 million. Trying desperately. MR. COOK: Francine. SECRETARY DUNCAN: Maybe Texas is picking on us. MONITOR BREAKFAST: How so? SECRETARY DUNCAN: No, I'm kidding. But let's help the kids in Texas. It's a lot about helping Texas. That's all I'm focused on. I could care less about politics. MR. COOK: Francine. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Mr. Secretary, I have another question about higher ed and holding universities accountable for student learning. The meeting of the Advisory Committee on Institution, Quality and Integrity was postponed, delayed until December, and I was wondering why that was, and what that says about using the accreditation process to possibly measure student outcomes? SECRETARY DUNCAN: You know, it just means that we're getting that group together to have a meeting. So there's nothing to read into it. Looking at the accreditation process generally is something that I'm really interested in, and I think, you know, in some places we do that really well, some places we don't. Some institutions get reviewed every ten years, and I think sort of stepping back and looking at the big picture is something that would be really valuable for us to do. MONITOR BREAKFAST: I'm going to kind of follow-up on that. The whole endeavor to hold for-profits accountable for student loans and default and so on, why shouldn't that principle be applied to all universities? SECRETARY DUNCAN: Well, the way the statute's written now, you know, it applies for everyone. But I think what's so important there, on the for-profits where 90 percent of the revenue is coming from us, coming from taxpayers, that's a massive, massive investment of taxpayer resources. When 90 percent of your income is coming from the public, I think it's important that we get good results there. Just to be taking a minute on that, obviously you know, we're working that issue through very carefully and just so I could be very, very clear on it, that I think the vast majority of the for-profits are really part of the solution. We're trying to educate our way to a better economy. I've said repeatedly we're trying to hit the President's goal of leading the world in college graduates by 2020, and good for-profits, good non-profits, good publics, good privates are all helping us get there. Where you have some, and also often working with disadvantaged populations who are trying to get back on their feet. Where you have some that are taking advantage of that population and burdening them with debt that they'll never have a chance to repay and being misleading in the programs they're offering. So we have a problem with that. So the line we're trying we're trying to walk is to support the good actors, but not to let the bad apples taint the good work that so many are doing to help the country, and we're working hard to get that balance right. MR. COOK: Lynn? MONITOR BREAKFAST: I'm going to tell appropriately. (Laughter.) SECRETARY DUNCAN: I think it might depend. MONITOR BREAKFAST: It depends. Are you going on the campaign trail, and if so, when? Are you doing -- will you do rallies or fundraisers? Then Mayor Daley criticized the Race for the Top process, because Chicago didn't win. He said it's because they were stacked, the odds were stacked against him because the state had more players on it than the city. So could you respond to that criticism? Then finally, any thoughts more than a year later, after you went to Chicago with Attorney General Eric Holder, to address the horrible youth murders in the city? They're still going on. SECRETARY DUNCAN: Take them in reverse order. The violence in Chicago and other places around the country is devastating, and I thought it couldn't get much worse than when I was there, and I think in fact it has gotten worse. It's staggering; it's absolutely unacceptable; and as I've said repeatedly, that was by far, by far the toughest issue that I dealt with. Nothing came close. Nothing came close. So you know, how we rally the community to become intolerant of this, how we rally the broader community to understand, you know. We don't live in Iraq, that our children have to be safe going to and from school. There's clearly a huge amount of work to be done, and the number of innocent kids that continue to be killed is staggering. One of the young men who was recently killed in Chicago was, I think, taught by one of my staff here now, and just devastating. MONITOR BREAKFAST: He was the what, one of your staff? SECRETARY DUNCAN: Mike Lamb, who's part of our team, taught him in elementary school. And so this continues to haunt me. I don't have easy answers on it, but it's -- and it's not just Chicago. I was in Oakland, California two weeks. The same, same challenges. So this is a national issue, and I think the public too often likes to turn a blind eye, and that's a real -- that's part of the problem. [VIDEO CUTS.] SECRETARY DUNCAN: As far as Race to the Top, it was a state competition. The state can bring whoever they wanted to be part of the, you know, interview team with us. Other states, New York brought Joe Klein. You know, other states brought superintendents. Who are the other ones? MONITOR BREAKFAST: D.C. brought -- SECRETARY DUNCAN: D.C. brought Michelle Rhee. So the state had the prerogative to bring whoever they want. So we don't control that. What we also asked for in the next round of funding for Race to the Top is we asked for the opportunity to fund both districts and states, and so the structure's changing. But in terms of how the state, you know, put their best foot forward and presented their case, that was obviously not something for us to micromanage. That was decided at the state level. In terms of campaigning, yes starting in mid-October, I will be out across the country, working for a variety of candidates. MONITOR BREAKFAST: And are you going to do fundraising? Are you going to do fundraisers? SECRETARY DUNCAN: I think so, yes. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Thank you. MR. COOK: Go ahead. You want to do a follow-up? You can do a follow-up? MONITOR BREAKFAST: The other Chicago paper -- MONITOR BREAKFAST: Well, Lynn had three questions. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Go ahead. MONITOR BREAKFAST: So the Tribune gets four. MONITOR BREAKFAST: You get four, is that right? MONITOR BREAKFAST: You all have parity. MONITOR BREAKFAST: I'll ask you a political question. Do you expect your fellow Chicagoan, Rahm Emanuel, to run for mayor? Have you talked to him or people close to him? What's he doing to test the waters? SECRETARY DUNCAN: I have talked to Rahm. I think he's really thinking it through. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Any sense of what he's doing to test the waters? SECRETARY DUNCAN: I don't know. MONITOR BREAKFAST: So two other questions please. Race to the Top. Will it be a blueprint for how the administration wants to recast No Child Left Behind? Will Pay for Performance be part of it, pay for teacher performance? What's the time table for reauthorizing? SECRETARY DUNCAN: So we'd love to go early in the New Year, and again we're working very hard to do that in a bipartisan way. There are elements clearly in Race to the Top that we want to continue. So high standards for the country, college improving standards, we think, are very, very important. States are working together on much better data systems. Being open to innovation and creativity is important. Great teachers, great principals matter a lot and rewarding excellence and getting that next generation of great talent to come in are all pieces of it. I'll give you a quick couple of thoughts on what's broken in No Child Left Behind and what we want to fix. So repeatedly No Child Left Behind was very punitive. Lots of ways to fail; very few rewards for success. It was very prescriptive, top-down from Washington. Lynn would remember that I almost had to sue the Department of Education for the right to tutor about 20,000 students in Chicago after school. It's the craziest fight I ever had. It was this huge pitched battle that I won. But I don't think folks should be having to sue the Department of Education for the right to tutor children after school. It led -- I think it's unintentional. It led to a dumbing down of standards in many states, including Illinois, including the state that we're from, and it to a narrowing the curriculum, which we talked about earlier. So we want to reverse all of that in reauthorization. We want to make sure we're rewarding excellence, great teachers, great principals, great schools, great districts, great states. We want to shine a spotlight on places that are raising the bar and closing the achievement gap. We want to be much more flexible from Washington and we don't have all the good answers where. We want to hold folks accountable, hold them to a high bar, but give local teachers, local principals, local school boards the room to be creative and they know their communities much better than we ever will, and give them the room to make a difference. You've seen, thanks to Race to the Top, this huge movement. Thirty-six states now have adopted higher standards. There's been this massive, massive breakthrough that would have been unimaginable two years ago. That's a game-changer. That's got to continue. We think we'll be up to 40 states very soon in that area, and then where we started is, I just absolutely believe our children deserve a well-rounded curriculum. So yes, reading and math are, you know, foundational, fundamental. We want to do it in Science, Social Studies, foreign languages, fine performing arts, PE, financial literacy, environmental literacy. Our students, and not just at a high school level, our first, second and third graders, deserve a chance to have world class, well-rounded education, and we're putting a billion dollars behind that effort. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Can you address, though, pay for teacher performance? Is that something you advocate? SECRETARY DUNCAN: Well, it's complicated. There's a piece, and again people like to -- if I can just take a moment on this. People like to oversimplify. If you just want to pay a teacher $10,000 for something, that sort of misses the point. That's not, you know. But as part of a package of a series of things, we want to professionalize the profession. You want to have meaningful career leaders. You want to have good mentoring induction. You want to figure out who your hardest working and your most successful teachers are, and yes, as part of a larger package, money being a piece of that. Encourage them to go to the toughest communities. I've said repeatedly that if we want to close the achievement gap, we have to close what I call the opportunity gap, and talent matters tremendously in education. I was recently last week at Charlotte-Mecklenburg district, a really interesting district if you guys would look at it. That district is systematically taking their best teachers and the best principals and putting them into the lowest-performing schools. About the first district I've found that's starting to do that. So there are 20 schools now. I visited one of these schools that just a couple of years ago was a disaster, and brought in a new team and high-performing, you know, talent from across the district. They're turning that school around, and talked to one of the turn-around principals. It's interesting. He was thinking about retiring; stayed on to do this work, to go in a tough school. He said -- his line was, he said "This is the most moral and ethical work I've ever done in my career." It's a really pretty profound statement. So yes, where folks are thinking about how to get the best talent where it's needed most, and the conversation being a piece of that equation, but just a piece of it, that's very important. I also think if you, if we're serious about recruiting this next generation of great talent, that great young talent wants to know that if they do a good job, they can make some real money. And I think if you're recruiting into a factory model, where everybody's paid the same for, you know, working a limited number of hours, that's not going to motivate the folks you want to come into education. So when we think about creating the career ladder, the career opportunities that will motivate the next, as a piece of that package, that's, can be helpful. MONITOR BREAKFAST: If I can ask one last question. In Illinois yesterday, preliminary results were in, showing that just slightly over half of high school students passed state exams for Math, Science, Reading. Beyond what you said this morning, what else would you do to improve high schools? SECRETARY DUNCAN: Well, two things. I've said, and this goes back. The test in Illinois makes no sense. There's no stake -- the high school test, there's no stakes for this child. What happens if the student doesn't do well? MONITOR BREAKFAST: So I'm sorry. You don't support the test? SECRETARY DUNCAN: No. I'm asking a question. What happens to the child who doesn't do well on the high school exam in Illinois? MONITOR BREAKFAST: I'm sorry, I don't know. SECRETARY DUNCAN: Nothing. It's irrelevant. It's irrelevant. So they should either drop it or they should do it, you know, make a test that's meaningful to students. But if you're asked to sit for something that is, has no bearing on your success, it's a meaningless exercise. It has zero, zero impact on anything having to do with students. So look at, you know, graduation rates, look at dropout rates, look at AP pass rates, look at college-going rates, look at college perseverance rates. There are a whole bunch of other indicators, other states. So you either drop it or other states have done, you know, in Massachusetts it's part of graduation requirements. In New York, it's part of graduation requirements. Illinois is in no man's land. So I just think that's the wrong place to be. They should either get rid of it or they should do something that is important to the, you know, means something to the child. But that's, in terms of gauging progress, that's irrelevant, and has been for a long time. So that's, it's just, you know. I think this is what -- they're just totally out of whack with reality. The larger question I think you're asking is how you improve high school performance, and I think what you're seeing now is this blossoming of very high-performing, high poverty schools around the country. So the lessons are it's hard work, but the lessons aren't that difficult. It's a lot more time for students; it's very high expectations. It's building a culture around college completion from day one. It's very strong adult relationships, no excuses, saying no child's going to fall through the cracks. If you're interesting, I'd encourage you to go visit Urban Prep High School in Inglewood and Southside Chicago, to get a sense of what is absolutely possible in communities where there are high expectations. MR. COOK: We're going to go next to Finley Lewis, Pat Lear, Gail Chaddock, Nick Anderson and Susan Baja. Finley? MONITOR BREAKFAST: You've covered a lot of ground and I wanted to ask you about your previous answers. But just to fine tune a little bit, there have been now hearings on both Education and Labor in the House and the Health Committee in the Senate on reauthorizing CLUB. Would you, as a result of those hearings or anything else that's sort of come to your attention, since you released the blueprint, is there anything on the blueprint that you think ought to be fine-tuned or changed? SECRETARY DUNCAN: Oh sure, oh sure. There's are lots of -- MONITOR BREAKFAST: What are the big things that you would change in the blueprint? SECRETARY DUNCAN: I mean there's a lot of work that needs to be done. I mean that was simply -- we did it intentionally as a blueprint and not as draft language or, you know, whatever. So there's been lots of great feedback of things that we will tweak and we'll continue to move on and think through. So the feedback's been not just the hearings, but just about, you know, we're all out traveling the country, listening to folks everyday. Lots of good feedback, so -- MONITOR BREAKFAST: But what are the big things in the movement that you think ought to be revisited, now that you've got the benefit of the hearing? SECRETARY DUNCAN: We're looking, I mean we're really thinking through parental engagement, and how we beef that up and really, you know, shine a spotlight on actively engaging parents in their student's education. Getting this, you know, we try to -- the thing I think No Child Left Behind got wrong is it was, you know, very lose on goals, very tight on means, and we want to flip that on its head and be tight on goals, lose on means, and make sure we're hitting that balance in a good way. Making sure we continue to reward excellence. Again, I think you would never have seen the amount of outpouring of innovation did we not have Race to the Top, the Investment in Innovation Fund, Promise Neighborhood, and teacher incentive funding, making sure we have the opportunity to continue to drive, the desperate, the kind of reform we desperately need as a country. It's hugely important to me that we keep that going as we move forward. MONITOR BREAKFAST: I can't give you the exact quote, but I just remember the moment. In one of the early hearings, I think Devory Canada (ph) said some very, very powerful things about unions and the kind of problem that they present in any kind of sensible reform effort. Do you share that sentiment, and link the problem with unions to perhaps the difficulty of forging the consensus in Congress on No Child Left Behind? SECRETARY DUNCAN: That's a great question. This is where it's again so important that folks sort of understand the complexity. It's a little bit like the, you know, paying teachers is more the answer. No. It's a piece of a larger thing. I would love all of you to go to Delaware, visit Delaware and talk to Diane Donohue, who's the head of the state union. Diane Donohue is an absolute profile in courage. Delaware was one of two states we funded in the first round of Race to the Top. She was part of the interview team that came in, and what she is saying about the role of unions and driving student achievement is stunning courage, stunning. So she would be, you know, she's one of my heroes. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Is she NFT or NEA? SECRETARY DUNCAN: NEA. It would surprise you. You have other union leaders that are much more intransient, and you have everything in between. You have a set of agreements, including right here in D.C., that unions actively worked on, and guess what? 80 percent of the members here voted for. You have agreements in New Haven, in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, that are break-through agreements. So what you have, again, is just lots of complexity here that I think folks don't spend the time to really understand. So the short answer to your question is there are unions who are absolutely part of the solution, who are doing a great job. There are unions that are in the middle, and there are unions that part of the problem, and that varies very much. We had hundreds, literally hundreds and hundreds of local unions sign on to breathtaking reform as part of the state's Race to the Top agendas, who agreed to pay for performance, who agreed that student achievement should be part of teacher evaluation, and where they have 100 percent consensus. You have other places where it's not there. So there's a level to that. There's a level of complexity there that I think is very important to get into. The last thing I'll say is that anyone who thinks unions are the only problem miss the complexity. You know, school boards have been part of the problem. Superintendents have been part of the problem. Our Department of Education has been part of the problem. We all have to change. Parents have to do more. All of us have to get outside our comfort zones. All of us, if we're sick of dropout rates that are too high and we really want to educate for a better economy, all of us have to behave differently. So anyone who thinks it's just the unions that have to change, I mean one example. In my introduction, I was the superintendent of schools for seven and a half years. That was the longest for big city superintendents at the time. That was the longest of anyone serving. The average life time for a superintendent is 2.4 years. That is crazy. That's not a union problem; that's a board problem. No business, none of your newspapers, no, you know, IBM, Xerox, you know, no company would succeed where their CEO turns over every 2.4 years. So if we're going to talk about reality, let's have that conversation, but let's really think through the complexity of it. MR. COOK: We've got about 20 minutes left. We're going to go to Pat Lingert, Gail Chaddock, Nick Anderson, Susan Page, Linda Feldman and then back to Todd Gilman if we have time. Pat. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Quick question on D.C., as a follow-up. Did you, have you talked to Vincent Gray and do you intend to? SECRETARY DUNCAN: We've actually traded calls over the past two days, so I haven't. But we've been -- he's running, I'm running. So I hope we'll talk today. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Okay, and then secondly, in terms of higher education, have you considered doing a Race to the Top for higher education, to encourage graduation rates -- SECRETARY DUNCAN: Yeah, we actually -- MONITOR BREAKFAST: --or to increase or to use student aid in a way to reward the schools that have the best graduation rates, to give them their money sooner or delay money on schools that have terrible graduation rates? SECRETARY DUNCAN: Not only have we considered it; we want to do that. We actually proposed a college access and completion fund, which was a Race to the Top for higher ed as part of the Higher Education bill. That unfortunately didn't pass. But we want to play in that area and we think we need to play in that area, and want to come back and do it. So yes. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Who's standing in -- who shot that down last summer? SECRETARY DUNCAN: Excuse me, no. That was part of the Higher Education bill. That's where we had the huge breakthrough on Pell grants and other things. So we got lots of wins. We didn't get everything we wanted. We wanted that and we wanted a lot more for early childhood. Those two things didn't happen. We're going to come back for them. MONITOR BREAKFAST: But you're going to come back to it this year, next year? SECRETARY DUNCAN: I'm not sure, but we're working on it. We're working on it. MR. COOK: Gail? MONITOR BREAKFAST: I'm not from Chicago, so I'll ask ... (Laughter.) MONITOR BREAKFAST: Tough crowd, boy. MONITOR BREAKFAST: When you first became Education Secretary, you spoke at a Convention of the Great City Schools, and your message to them was I have more money than any Education Secretary has ever had, discretionary. Be sure that you use it, not just to do the old things, you know, rehire the same old teachers, whatever. But to completely do something that's fundamentally new. Looking back on that and the battering that state budgets and local budgets have taken, would you -- did you have to walk back that advice? Do you feel that a lot of the money that went into education had to be used to do the same old things? Do you disagree with that? SECRETARY DUNCAN: No. I said in my first open statement, I think we have to do both. You have to save jobs, clearly and this -- you know, I think we avoided this education catastrophe, and that was hugely important to do. But at the same time, we have to challenge the status quo. We have to get dramatically better. And again, lots of folks like to pit these two ideas against each other, and I think again it totally misses the point. When you're trying to keep your head above water, it's hard to think about reform. But if you have a chance to have a bit of a more solid base, then you can really drive. So saving jobs, driving reform. To me, those two have gone hand in hand. In an ideal world, we would have had a better economy. It wouldn't have had to save, so that's reality. We are so proud that Congress stepped up and passed the $10 billion jobs package recently, and people thought we were crazy, thought that would never happen, and it was hugely important that happened. It's, you know, the amount of gratitude that I hear across the country from people who are now in a classroom rather than on an unemployment line is huge, and what that means --. So these two ideas are in conflict, and yet we need to do them both at the same time. But to be very clear, we can never go back. We can't accept the status quo. The status quo is not working for far too many children. It's not working for the country. We have to get better. MR. COOK: Quick follow-up. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Quick follow-up. Since the mid-80's, one of the assumptions of reformers in education has been that if you set standards and measurement, good things can happen. Recently there have been, you know, some of the most articulate exponents of that view, like Diane Ravage (ph) in New York, have recanted totally. I think the assumption is that the gaming that goes on around performance and testing is ahead, constantly ahead of anything that school boards can do. How do you feel about that kind of erosion among the core reformers, of what is the core assumption of what you're doing? SECRETARY DUNCAN: Well, it's not the core assumption. There are lots of assumptions. So anyone who says that high standards don't matter, I think it totally misses the boat, absolutely misses the boat. Part of why I went into education was I tutored a young man who was a junior in high school, who was a B student at King High School in Chicago, who was functionally illiterate. He'd been passing through the school system because there were no standards, and he could not -- he was trying to get ready for college and didn't know he couldn't read. He couldn't put together a sentence. He was a B student and a junior in high school. When you have low standards, it's not my children that get hurt; it's the disadvantaged children. It's the children where there aren't expectations. You know, my children, you know, my wife and I are going to read to them every night. They're going to be okay. But you have to have high standards. Now that doesn't get you there by itself. You need to have good assessments behind that. You need to have engaged curriculum behind that, and most importantly, you need to have great teachers and great principals in those children's schools. So all these things work together. But anyone who says we don't need high standards, in what profession -- you know, your profession, in business, in sports. I mean in what profession do you get excellence when you don't have high standards? MONITOR BREAKFAST: And the measurement piece that (inaudible) I mean think that the measurement (inaudible) measuring what kids are learning (inaudible) SECRETARY DUNCAN: So we're investing $330 million to create the next generation of assessments, and there are two consortiums of states, 44 states working together to come up with the next generation of assessments. So don't let the enemy -- don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Let's keep getting better, let's knee evolving, but let's not say having no standards is okay, because I tell you it's the poor children who get killed on that, get absolutely killed. MR. COOK: Nick. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Mr. Secretary, one of the most controversial areas of your policy is school turnarounds. I think it's one of the examples where you've actually gotten tighter on the means, because you have laid out a series of four steps that are more prescriptive than the Bush administration had for how to fix low-performing schools. There's a lot of people around the country who look at these four, turn-around, transformation and closure -- I forget what the other one is. SECRETARY DUNCAN: It's restart. MONITOR BREAKFAST: And restart, and they say that doesn't work here, and they're complaining about it. There's some complaints about this policy. Could you address their complaints about its prescriptiveness, its rigidness, and could you tell us whether you think that the school piece of your policy has been a success so far, and what you see? Do you think, do you anticipate -- most importantly, do you anticipate that that will be, as it is now, written into the law during the reauthorization? SECRETARY DUNCAN: So as you know, Nick, I'm always open to a conversation of thinking this thing through. So nothing's written in stone yet. What I will say is go look at Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and look at what they're doing to turn around schools. Go visit George C. Hall in Mobile, Alabama, which you were there with me. Went from being the lowest-performing school in the district and maybe in the state to one of the highest-performing. Go visit Urban Prep on the Southside of Chicago. Go visit Mastery Charter in Philadelphia. I can send you guys on a tour all over this country, and anyone who tells you these schools can't turn around, they're lying to you. It is hard. It is controversial. It is difficult. What I am reacting to, it was interesting. Under No Child Left Behind, all these schools got labeled failures, and they actually got worse. Nothing changed. So they got the label, and the majority of schools who got labeled that, their results actually declined between `05 and `08, and we can give you those numbers. And so what I'm reacting to, I think about 92 percent of the country, when asked what their intervention was in those schools, what did they pick? They picked "Other." They picked Other, and we know what other was. Other was the same. Other was the status quo. So yes, I am being tough-minded here, and I am saying that the status quo is broken. We have dropout rates of 50, 60, 70 percent. It was interesting, that we had states identify the bottom five percent of schools of 120. Most states didn't know who their bottom five percent of schools were. So the conversation itself has been very helpful, and some states have frankly misidentified who the bottom five percent is. But again, these are important. These are tough conversations. These are important. Okay. So let's figure out how do we define who's struggling, and then what are we going to do very differently, and what are we going to do with a real sense of urgency. So we're -- I'm open to idea and open to thoughts and open to -- what I'm not open to is the status quo. I'm not open to it when we are desperately letting down children and perpetuating poverty and social failure. I'm not going to do it, and it's not -- it's not just, you know, we're putting a huge amount of money. So a lot of people, you know, as you know, Race to the Top is getting all the press. School improvement grants, $3.5 billion. So if you need to pay a principal 50 grand or more to come in, do it. If you've got to pay a great math or science teacher 50 grand more, 10 grand more to come in. If you want schools open on Saturday, weekends, summers, if teachers need more time to plan. We're not saying anything. Whatever you think that community needs, and we're not prescribing that in Washington. You figure out what that community needs and you do it, and we want to put our resources behind this new vision of what's possible. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Just a quick follow-up. Even though your solutions are more prescriptive than Bush's solutions -- SECRETARY DUNCAN: But there were no, there were no solutions. It was "Other." MONITOR BREAKFAST: They had a few things in No Child Left Behind to choose from. SECRETARY DUNCAN: But 92 percent picked "Other." MONITOR BREAKFAST: Related to that, does it concern you at all that many of the schools and states around the country are seeking to pick the least, the least invasive prescription? SECRETARY DUNCAN: Well again, I don't think I can or should prescribe, you know, what happens in Washington. I think every community should decide that at the local level, and I have a lot of, you know, confidence they'll pick the right thing for their community, and that's going to vary community by community. What we will do, Nick, over time, is really track these different models, where are we getting results. I want to be clear. We're going to make some mistakes. Some places will get worse, not better. But at the end of the day, many more, I think, will be much better than have we done nothing, have we done "Other." But we'll track over the next couple of years, you know, these models, which ones are having the most impact in which communities and lessons learned. What I'm trying to do, Nick, is I'm trying to get this country in the business of turning around the underperforming schools. In the next couple of years, if we as a country can turn around that bottom five percent, that will be one of the most important things we do, and you and I have talked, I think. You know, I'm less interested in the number of schools as I am in the quality. You know, this is not about quantity. I do want to as a country to get to the point where we can turn around a thousand schools a year. We are nowhere near that capacity to do that well. So let's start smaller. Let's figure out what works with us and five years from now, I want us to be doing this on a systemic basis. And the last thing I'll say that folks may need eight or ten years. One example is Locke High School in LA. You know, huge high school, really struggling. You know, are test scores going to turn around tomorrow? Of course not. In the first year, attendance went up about 12 percent for students. That might not sound like a lot to you guys, but on a 180 school day year, 12 percent increase in attendance in another month of school. Those children are voting with their feet, and they're showing up to school another month. Doesn't mean, you know, doesn't mean that they're there yet, but that's a heck of a quick step in the right direction. The same children, the same building, same community, same poverty, same violence, but they're coming to school a month more. I like that. That's a good thing. I want to see more of that. MR. COOK: Susan? MONITOR BREAKFAST: Mr. Secretary, you said education is not really a partisan issue, which could be important if Republicans make big gains in the fall. But I wonder if going out and campaigning in October for Democratic candidates risks policitizing these issues and your role. Do you have any concerns about that? SECRETARY DUNCAN: I think, yes, I'm going to support candidates that really care about education, you know. There's Michael Bennet, who I've, you know, been very, very proud and happy to support. I think he has a chance to be a fantastic voice for education in the Senate for decades to come, frankly. And so I feel great about supporting a candidate like that. You know, we need leaders in the Senate, we need leaders in the House, and -- thank you. We need governors where they want, they want folks voting on their education record. That's a good thing for this country. I mean I would love every election to be a referendum on whether that governor, you know, what that elected official will do for education and what that candidate will do for education. I want that conversation. So where you have folks willing to, you know, step out there and not talk the talk but sort of walk the walk, I feel good about supporting them. MR. COOK: Linda. MONITOR BREAKFAST: I'm wondering if Michelle Rhee does leave as superintendent of the DCPS as expected, would you consider bringing her onto your team, or do you -- does her management style give you pause in any way? SECRETARY DUNCAN: No. I'm a big fan of Michelle's, and I think Michelle's made a fantastic contribution. I would love to see Michelle stay, and I have no idea what she wants to do and what, you know, what the potential mayor wants to do. We talked about, you know, the turnover in superintendents. She's been here three years. I was seven and a half. My only regret in taking this job was I didn't get to do ten years in Chicago. I desperately wanted to do ten years. I think people who stay, you look at it, Tom Payzant in Boston and Joel Klein in New York. This is hard, hard work. It takes time, and I'd love to see Michelle have, you know, a ten year run in D.C. That may or may not happen and, you know, if it doesn't happen we can talk about options. But this work, you know, this work takes time. It takes sustained leadership, as it does in your profession, as it does in any other profession. This idea of, you know, 2.4 years being okay, I have a big problem with t hat. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Have you been in touch with her at all to urge her to stay in D.C.? SECRETARY DUNCAN: She and I talked. It's not my call, you know. She's got to figure out what's in her heart and the incoming mayor has to figure out what's in his heart. She and I talked and she went out of town for a few days and we said we'd talk when she got back. So it's not -- I mean they'll work out. They're good. They'll work it out. They'll figure out what's best for them. But where we have strong leadership around the country, sustaining that leadership. Another good example is Jerry Weast in Montgomery County. I think he's done an amazing job, and he's done it, what was it 12 years, 13 years? MONITOR BREAKFAST: It's going to be 12 years at the end of this year. SECRETARY DUNCAN: You know, and that sounds like -- I mean it sounds like, you know, that shouldn't, you know, if Jerry would have left after three years, you know, or been kicked out or fired after three years? I mean when you've got good folks, stay the course. You're going to have ups and downs. You're going to have bumps, but we need these runs where you have good leadership. So beyond D.C., I want to see strong, stable leadership in places, and give this thing a chance to move over time. MR. COOK: Tracy? MONITOR BREAKFAST: Going back to the (inaudible), what is your response to the objections raised by Congressional members regarding the (inaudible)? SECRETARY DUNCAN: We're in great conversations with them. So again, it's like the blueprint. You know, we put out a draft. We put out a draft for comment. I'm not going to set in stone. I just want to do the right thing here. So where there's good feedback that will make the proposal better, we're absolutely open to that. We have 90,000 comments to read. so we have a lot of homework to do, to wade through it. But where there's, you know, serious good ideas, I'm absolutely open and all the -- none of this is set in stone. I'm not wedded to anything, and we just want to get it right. So we'll listen to comments, criticism, positive feedback, whatever it might be, and at the end of the day, really try and get this right. This one's a complicated one, and it's -- so we're going to be absolutely as thoughtful also we can. MR. COOK: We're going to try and get in two more questions. We've got about six minutes left. Mae O'Toohey and Kendra (name). MONITOR BREAKFAST: You mentioned Michael Bennet, Mr. Secretary, that you probably campaigned for. SECRETARY DUNCAN: Yes. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Can you mention any other people that would you like to campaign for? And also, if this speaker changes and it becomes John Boehner, he was a former chairman of the Education Committee. Can you shed any light on the conversation that you had with him about education? SECRETARY DUNCAN: So I'll get you guys a list of folks that we're going to go out and sort of work for. My buddy Alexi in Illinois. I'd love to see him become a senator. So I'm going to, you know, go out and try and help him. But Michael Bennet's a guy I spent some real time with. Perriello in Virginia, I've talked to. He's a great guy, and I'd love to -- you know, has real courage. I'd love to see him continue to, you know, to have a chance to serve. But we'll give you a list of that. I'm sorry. What was the second question? MONITOR BREAKFAST: And John Boehner, former Education -- SECRETARY DUNCAN: Oh yes. I have had great conversation, I have a great working relationship with Mr. Boehner. So we'll continue to work with him. We'll continue to work with everybody who's serious about education. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Do you have any though -- has there been any consensus between the two of you in terms of things you would like to do together should he become speaker? SECRETARY DUNCAN: I don't know if he is going to become speaker. But we'll, you know, whatever happens, we're going to continue to work closely together. John Klein, I'll sit with John and we'll continue to do that. MR. COOK: Kendra. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Can you talk about the Dream Act and giving us your (inaudible), you know, where you would (inaudible). SECRETARY DUNCAN: Yes. I'm deeply, deeply disappointed, and I just think as a country we're not, we're not in the right place on this one, and you know, this one's personal. I've just worked with too many students who are too smart and are working too hard, and don't have a chance to fulfill their dreams and go to college. You know, I said yesterday, you know, as a country, we need the talents, the passion, the commitment of every single young person contributing to our society, and to deny young people who have played by the rules, who are here through no fault of their own, to deny them a chance to go to college, makes absolutely no sense to me, none whatsoever. MONITOR BREAKFAST: And do you see another (inaudible) for this Act? SECRETARY DUNCAN: I don't know, you know. I'm not the political expert here. I will tell you this is what I'm going to continue to push for very, very, very hard. MR. COOK: Anybody who hasn't had one who wants one? MONITOR BREAKFAST: Sir, Mike (inaudible) from the Standard. Just your thoughts on the Vanderbilt University study about the bonus pay and the AFT's response praising the study, how that affects Race to the Top? SECRETARY DUNCAN: It don't affect it at all. It's a good study, and I agree with it. I mean it's sort of a simplistic study. What they did is they just gave some teachers some money and thought that was the answer. Of course that's not the answer, and this is the complexity. So anyone who thinks that's the answer just doesn't get it. So if there's no good method of metric induction for career ladders. If you're not figuring out how to get your hardest-working and most committed into underserved community, if you're not thinking about how these programs help bring in the next generation of talent, you're missing the boat. So the way the study was set up and the outcomes are exactly as I would have predicted. So it's helpful to -- I mean it sort of confirms what we're thinking about. But as we do our equivalent of the Teacher Incentive Fund, the Teacher Incentive Fund is doing lots of things very, very differently, including this, you know, better professional development, better metric induction, trying to think through what this does to bring in the next generation of talent, and do nothing about rewarding talent to go to underserved communities, which has to be a huge part of the strategy. This is where I give the Charlotte-Mecklenburg story. I'm trying to give you guys some stuff to think about. That story is a really important one. So it's a piece of a basket of incentives this can be helpful. Stand-alone doesn't make sense at all. It assumes -- that study assumes that teachers somehow are holding back on their knowledge, holding back on their work until they get paid. I think that really demeans the profession. MR. COOK: We've got about two minutes left. Todd. MONITOR BREAKFAST: A sort of existential question for you. There's a lot of concern -- SECRETARY DUNCAN: I'll give you an existential answer, whatever that means. MONITOR BREAKFAST: Yes. There's a lot of concern about huge deficits, $13 trillion debt, and when pollsters go out and they ask the voters what do you think ought to be done, one of the things that often comes up from some people is abolishment of the Department of Education. It's also something that was talked about some politicians (inaudible). What would the implications of that be? I assume you object to this somewhat. SECRETARY DUNCAN: Well, I like my job, so I just think we all have to be part of the solution, and I think the amount of poor children and children with special needs and homeless children and migrant children the Department has helped is extraordinary. I think the level of change that we're driving now in terms of reform and higher standards and better teaching. I think the fact that we're able to get an additional $60 billion for Pell grants going forward, stop subsidizing bankers, I think those are all really important things. And all of us have a role to play in improving the quality of education and in the country. The critique that the Department of Education has been part of the problem at times, I share that. I share that concern. I share that critique, and we're trying to move from being this compliance-driven bureaucracy to this engine of innovation. I would argue that you've seen more innovation in the past 18 months than you've seen in the past ten years combined, and that's thanks frankly in part to our leadership and our resources. MR. COOK: I want to thank you for your annual visit. We really appreciate it sir. We're done. SECRETARY DUNCAN: Great questions, guys. Thank you. (Whereupon, the breakfast meeting was