March 30th, 2010
06:39 PM ET
10 years ago

'We have to educate our way to a better economy,' Duncan says

'Education has to rise above politics and ideology,' Education Secretary Arne Duncan told CNN Tuesday.

'Education has to rise above politics and ideology,' Education Secretary Arne Duncan told CNN Tuesday.

Washington (CNN) – President Obama's point man for improving America's schools said Tuesday that boosting educational opportunities will help the struggling economy.

"We have to educate our way to a better economy," Education Secretary Arne Duncan says in an interview set to air on CNN's "John King, USA."

In a wide-ranging interview with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, Duncan defended changes to the federal student loan program that the president signed into law at a Virginia community college.

Under provisions included in the health care "fixes" bill, private banks will no longer handle federally-backed student loans. Previously, borrowers got college loans from either banks or the federal government. In return for administering loans to students, private banks received federal subsidies to provide student loans.

Related: FAQ's about student loan reform

Republicans have criticized the change as another example of the Obama administration taking control of something historically done by the private sector. But Duncan told King that the changes to the loan program shift money from banks to helping students finance their educations.

Duncan estimated that sixty billion dollars in federal funds will now be used for student loans instead of bank subsidies.

"Do you continue to subsidize banks, or do you invest in education?," Duncan asked. "This is the right thing for students. It's the right thing for the country. It's the right thing for American taxpayers. Very simple choice. It's the right idea."

Despite Republican criticism of the revamped student loan program, Duncan predicted that both parties will work together to re-tool No Child Left Behind, the landmark education initiative of the previous administration.

"I'm actually very optimistic," Duncan told King, "We've seen tremendous bipartisan support. Republicans, Democrats, House, Senate - everyone wants to get better. Education has to rise above politics and ideology. All of that has to go to side. People have been very, very thoughtful. No one is protecting the status quo."

Related: Duncan announces first round of 'Race to the Top' grants

Duncan, who played basketball as an undergraduate at Harvard and is part of a small circle that takes to the court with Obama, also spoke with King about his concerns over the graduation rates of some NCAA athletes.

Programming note: Watch more of Duncan's interview on John King, USA beginning at 7 p.m. E.T.

Filed under: Arne Duncan • Education • JKUSA • John King USA • Popular Posts
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Average American

    Can't wait to see who's anti-education....

    March 30, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  2. Jin

    No doubt the Repugnicans will oppose any improvements in funding for American education since it is easier to frighten an uneducated audience than those who can read and have critical thinking abilities developed by education. They have shown that they want an electorate who are more likely to participate in their own oppression. Critical thinking skills make the electorate more prone to thinking before acting on the words of others.

    March 30, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  3. jojomcgee

    Obama has absolute control over college loans now. Watch for him to start dictating who can go to which school, what you can major in, what classes you must take. The Lesbian studies classes (known also as Women Studies) will be mandated. Michelle Obama will also be dictating what food is served to students receiving federal loans. Write it down folks.

    March 30, 2010 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  4. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Educate them to take what jobs? Why should a young person go into debt to the tune of 50,70, 100 Grand to receive a job that pays 10 dollars an hour?
    We needs millions of jobs that pay living wages now! Not four years from now. Show us where these jobs will come from?

    March 30, 2010 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain

    Yes, education is key to our country's future. If it weren't for an educated populace (largely through our public education system), we would not have had all the innovation we've seen in this country since its inception.

    And to those out there who complain about "elitists" and who feel threatened by those who are educated, ask yourself this:

    Who would you rather work for, someone who's smart and makes good, sound decisions based on what they know about their product and the marketplace, or someone who flies by the seat of their pants, is uninformed about the competition and who makes bone-headed decisions?

    March 30, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  6. JP

    My kids were in the DC public schools. There are many things we can do to improve our children's education. First sent the illegals back home and use the money saved for citizens children. Get rid of the teachers unions their primary concern is not our children. My kids had some wonderful teachers but others would have been fired decades ago if it wasn't for the union. If a child is disruptive send them out and make their parents come get them instead of having the teacher waste class time with them.

    March 30, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  7. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Those companies that hired generations from the same family as each finished high school, they're gone people and won't be returing. So stop complaining and get an education.

    March 30, 2010 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  8. Gerry NH

    If the government is going to take control of the student loan program how many people working at the universities and private organization doing these jobs will loose there jobs?

    March 30, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  9. JonDie

    That's the advantage to the Republican-Tea Party platform: if we return to living in fortresses guarded by armed militias like in the late 18th century, no one really needs an education (other than how to build stockades or shoot , and we won't need police or a government.

    March 30, 2010 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  10. Jake

    A good start would be educating Democrats and let them know all these entitlement programs must be paid for by tax payers;BUT,I guess they can not relate since most are on entitlements and do not pay taxes.Forgot-the Republicans are the workers and tax payers-the dems are the receivers.

    March 30, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  11. phoenix86

    Start by educating this adminstration. Begin with Economics 101 and Introduction to Math. We'll all be better for it.

    March 30, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  12. Enough

    Sorry but you don't have to have some big degree to make it in life. There are plenty of small business owners who work for a living. what would this country be if everyone had a college degree? Problem is too many people on the entitlement band wagon, like lifelong welfare. We need to quit paying people to have babies and reward them for having more.

    March 30, 2010 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  13. terry,va.

    And this will take how many years? 10-15 or more? This is while Obummie is pushing cap and trade and is going to lose thousands and thousands of energy and manufacturing jobs. Not everyone can be a BIG SCHOLAR like Obummie. To be so smart he is the dumbest man I have ever seen.

    March 30, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  14. obamarroids

    If he is working for Obama he is just angling to screw us somehow.

    March 30, 2010 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  15. annie against biased news

    AND how much more will this cost students? AND how many jobs will be lost because of this? We do not need to 'educate ourselves to a better economy idiot we need to quit spending! Seems even a harvard grad can't figure that one out! Could someone explain to obama that 2 + 2= 4!

    March 30, 2010 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  16. frank in valparaiso indiana

    We need to educate our people in economics, history and government. The Tea Parties do not know any of those subjects. The free market does not work. The trickle down system really was voodoo economics as George Bush noted. The Founding Fathers were deists, who believed in taxes and sent the militia out to ensure they were collected. Remember Shay's Rebellion? Not to mention we fought a Civil War over states rights.

    March 30, 2010 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  17. Marcus

    Want to read a strong argument as to why EDUCATION matters?
    Take a look at South Korea. BEFORE and AFTER they decided that EDUCATION matters and was very important for the state to do something more about it than it was doing back then (circa mid 60's).
    OK, they were living under a military dictatorship and the government had complete control of all aspects of the Koreans lives...
    But they eventually got a democracy as political regimen (and, ironically, thanks in part for the boosting in education), and they still consider EDUCATION as an important aspect of their present and future.

    March 30, 2010 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  18. Doug

    Bravo! President Obama Administration this was along time coming. Help is on the way for the middle class Americans.

    March 30, 2010 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  19. John from Brooklyn

    Duncan is right....

    Do we want our tax-paid school loan money to be spent lining the pockets of Republican bankers, or do we want them to go directly to the students who need them? I think the answer is clear.

    The Republicans made sure the bankers were protected during the bailout – now they're crying foul when bankers aren't getting their "cut" of student aid. Republicans, Americans are sick of you protecting bankers...they can take care of themselves!

    March 30, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  20. Chad from Tampa

    No, the way you help the economy is lower taxes for small business so they can hire.

    March 30, 2010 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  21. Dan, TX

    Education is important if you want to be healthy, weathy and wise. But you'd be an elitist if you get an education, and we definitely don't want to be elitist. So let's stay ignorant and let our kids watch reality TV instead of having the pain of living their own lives.

    March 30, 2010 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  22. Ridgeway

    Start with Obama, Pelosi and Reid. Put them in remedial Economics.

    March 30, 2010 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |