Education Secretary Arne Duncan regrets 'clumsy phrasing' about Common Core

McClatchy Washington BureauNovember 18, 2013 

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today said he regrets saying that “white suburban moms” are suddenly finding out “their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought” because of tougher educational standards known as the Common Core.

Politico today reported that Duncan made the comment during a talk in Richmond, Va., at a gathering of state superintendents of education on Friday.

Duncan reportedly said that some of the pushback against the Common Core is coming from “white suburban moms who _ all of a sudden _ their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary.”

The Common Core standards were developed by governors and state school officials who wanted to raise expectations for students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards for English and math.

The standards are a move away from rote learning toward more critical thinking.

Criticism of them ranges from conservatives who complain that the Obama administration made higher standards a requirement for federal grants, to liberals who worry about new testing.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today, when asked about Duncan's comments at a briefing for reporters,  said that he hadn't talked to President Barack Obama about them.

"But if his point was that we need to be honest with kids and parents about whether we're providing the skills they need to succeed, I think we can all agree on that," Carney said.

Carney added that Duncan "and everybody on the president’s team dedicated to this effort is focused on making sure that we do everything we can working with states and others to ensure that our kids are getting the education they need for the 21st century, for the careers of the 21st century."

In a blog post today, Duncan said he used “clumsy phrasing that I regret _ particularly because it distracted from an important conversation about how to better prepare all of America’s students for success.”

He said he singled out one group when he meant to say better communication was needed for all groups.

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service