Education boss apologizes for 'pink slips' remark
March 4th, 2013
02:40 PM ET
1 year ago

Education boss apologizes for 'pink slips' remark

(CNN) – Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he should have been clearer when describing the effects automatic spending cuts would have on one particular school district in West Virginia, saying Monday he was sorry for using the faulty example.

Duncan told reporters at the White House last Wednesday that the Kanawha County school system was already handing out pink slips in anticipation of the automatic cuts that, among other things, will impact the amount of federal money states get through September.

"Yes, there's a district where it's happened. But, again, it's just because they have an earlier union notification than most – Kanawha County, West Virginia," Duncan said at a briefing where Cabinet officers detailed the impact of cuts under the so-called congressional sequester to their agency programs.

But an official with the school district cautioned Duncan's explanation wasn't totally accurate. Diane Young, the coordinator of the Head Start program for Kanawha County Public Schools, explained that Head Start, the federal program for needy children, has yet to notify the school system whether it will provide federal money in the fall.

Teachers: worried about spending cuts? Share your story on CNN iReport.

Without any kind of funding notification from Head Start, Young told CNN the school system must plan to do without the program in the fall, and as a result was planning to lay off 16 teachers and 12 teaching assistants – but had yet to send the official notices. That means no dismissal announcements - pink or otherwise - were sent.

On Monday, Duncan said at a meeting with school district leaders he was sorry he misspoke.

"Language is really, really important, and I want to apologize for not being as clear as I should've been last week. Because I wasn't as clear, the spotlight was put on me and that's never ever my goal," Duncan said. "My goal here is to have the spotlight be on children and families, so when I said 'pink slips' that was probably the wrong word. I should've used 'job eliminations,' 'positions eliminated.'"

CNN's Jim Acosta and Lindy Royce contributed to this report.


Filed under: Arne Duncan
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. just sayin

    no apology necessary... pick up you pink slip on the way out tonight. their should be som eprice to pay for lying to the american people from such a high position in government.

    March 4, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  2. Wes

    What a loser.

    March 4, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  3. anoel2005

    Hard to believe that at least half the American electorate is so ignorant that they actually voted TWICE for the LYING Obama administration.

    March 4, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  4. jeff

    You don't have to tell us what you goal was, we aren't that stupid!!!!

    March 4, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  5. PostGOP_USA

    "We often criticize GOP leaders for not standing firm on limited government principles, but today Americans for Prosperity thanks Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans for standing up to President Obama and making sure the $85 billion in much-needed sequester spending cuts took effect."

    - Americans for Prosperity, a TeaParty Advocacy Group

    March 4, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. Moose

    another bamman stooge, what a pos

    March 4, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  7. Hammerer

    Did he lie or not?

    March 4, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    It's called "manning up" and taking responsibility for one's words and actions. If a Republican were to do something like this they immediately by stereotyped as a loser: a label that would stick and be used against them for the rest of their political life.

    March 4, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    anoel2005 ranted:

    Hard to believe that at least half the American electorate is so ignorant that they actually voted TWICE for the LYING Obama administration.
    -------------
    When is the right wing finally going to figure out that insulting the voters that they desire so badly is not a winning strategy.

    March 4, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. wrm

    Meh, probably just passing along the rhetoric from above.

    March 4, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. anoel2005

    Rudy NYC : "When is the right wing finally going to figure out that insulting the voters that they desire so badly is not a winning strategy."
    On the issue of the LYING Obama administration , it's the truth. The truth hurts, Rudy, but it's still the truth.

    March 4, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. PostGOP_USA

    "the sequester is going to happen"
    -Republican Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI)

    "I want to see it go into place."
    -Republican Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA)

    "The consensus is we want the sequester"
    -Republican Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA)

    "We’re willing to let it go through"
    -Republican Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA)

    "The sequester is law. Those cuts happen no matter what. We’re willing to hang in there and insist that those cuts go into place…"
    -Republican Congressman John Fleming (R-LA)

    "Sequestration will take place… I am excited."
    -Republican Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)

    "It’s going to be a homerun"
    -Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS)

    "We want to keep the sequester in place and take the cuts we can get"
    -Republican Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC)

    March 4, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    anoel2005 wrote:

    On the issue of the LYING Obama administration , it's the truth. The truth hurts, Rudy, but it's still the truth.
    ----------------------
    Call it what you wish. The "real truth" is that the American people have found the Obama administration more trustworthy than the Republicans.

    March 4, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. Not_an_Idiot

    @anoel2005 hard to believe 47% of the electorate was so ignorant that they voted for the "47%" guy even AFTER he showed he was clearly out of touch with not only reality, but the general public as well.

    March 4, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    @PostGOP_USA Thanks for posting a partial list of the Sequestrians.

    March 4, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  16. Not_an_Idiot

    also @anoel2005, where has PRESIDENT Obama ever straight up lied without there being a reason for not being able to do what he said he would do? Or do obstructionist tactics from the right not mean anything? I mean who are you trying to convince; those of us who live in reality or yourself?

    March 4, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  17. UDidntBuildThat

    PostGOP_USA & RudyNYC
    Lets be clear here. Obama came out and said the cuts would cost 750,000 job loss. Maxine Water came out and said the cuts would cost 170 million jobs given our economy employs about 140 million that would be 100% unemployment. Obama organized everyone in his administration to come out and threatened the American people with layoffs of their most valued services. Remeber Ray LaHodd saying the airtraffic controllers will be the 1st to go? Not office furniture.

    But the bigger picture is that Obama proposed these cuts & signed them into law, said they were not his ideas but Congress, promised they would never happened and blamed the Republicans. How is that not willful deception and blatant lying to the American people?
    Sad fact is that Obama and the Dems thinks the American people are stupid and can be easily fooled. Why wouldn't Obama think that when the media & people like you defending him while he is lying & when u have an electorate filled up of low infomation voters such as yourself?

    March 4, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  18. anoel2005

    Not-an-Idiot,

    Time for you to change your name.

    Do you like being lied to by your god Obama? Does it bother you that 50% of our college grads can't find a job ?

    The fact is , the epitome of stupidity is voting for FAILURE, not once, but twice.

    March 4, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  19. biffyb

    Way to come back after getting caught in a lie aimed at promoting fear. The Bush admin promoted fear of terror and the Obama admin is promoting fear of job loss.

    This stagnant economy we find ourselves in, is the fault of those who believed the Obama hype and made man with no friends in Washington, leader of the United States.

    I hope its worth the social issues Obama will bring to light, but do nothing about.

    March 4, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  20. UDidntBuildThat

    PostGOP_USA

    "the sequester is going to happen"
    -Republican Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI)

    "I want to see it go into place."
    -Republican Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA)
    _____________________
    "The sequester is not something that I proposed," Obama said, of the $1.2 trillion in automatic budget cuts set to kick in on Jan. 2. "It's something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen. " Obama
    Obama can’t rightly say the sequester isn’t his, but he did need cooperation from Congress to get to this point. We rate the statement Mostly False.

    None other than NBC’s David Gregory today pressed Obama’s chief economic advisor, Gene Sperling, whether his boss told the truth in the third presidential debate that “the sequester is not something that I’ve proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed.” Sperling finally wilted under the pressure of tough questioning to admit that “yes, in fact, the sequestration was President Obama’s plan.”

    March 4, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  21. jpmichigan

    Obama and his entire administration are all part of the doom and gloom . Make it look worse than it really is , even though we CAN and SHOULD look at other ways to cut spending, but we WON'T unless it includes increase taxes. This is what the SEQUESTER was supposed to do , trigger more revenue, so Obama can continue to forge ahead with wasteful spending.

    March 4, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  22. anoel2005

    "Bob Woodward reported over the weekend that ( the sequester) was, indeed, Obama’s idea. The Washington Post backs him up today, calling on Obama to show leadership on the issue."

    Isn't anyone willing to use the word LIAR when it comes to Obama? If this was Bush they'd already be screaming IMPEACH !

    March 4, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  23. Edwin

    I like what Rudy NYC wrote: "The 'real truth' is that the American people have found the Obama administration more trustworthy than the Republicans." That is the bottom line.

    That said, I think this guy really said something stupid and purposely inflammatory. Apologizing after you say something is becoming way too common. Usually it is a republican who does it - but regardless, it stinks. He knew better and did it for effect.

    It's not quite enough to make me want him to resign, but it is definitely not what I want out of a Secretary of Education.

    March 4, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  24. Jerry

    Why do so many Obama administration flunkies continue to put their big foots in their big mouths. Most of them must be playing follow the leader (Obama). On the other hand, those are possibly their intended intentions. Some Américans will hear what the originally had to say (mostly lies), but will not catch their retractions.

    Not surprising coming from this administration, though.

    March 4, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    UDidntBuildThat

    PostGOP_USA & RudyNYC
    Lets be clear here. Obama came out and said the cuts would cost 750,000 job loss.
    -------------------------
    Let's clear up your rmisconceptions. The 750,000 figure came from the CBO.

    March 4, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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