Interview with Education Secretary Arne Duncan

By This Week, This Week - August 29, 2010


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Good morning. I'm Christiane Amanpour, and at the top of the news this week, from the crisis in the classroom...

OBAMA: Education is the economic issue.

AMANPOUR: ... to the junk in the cafeteria. How American schools are failing children. Will your child survive in the global economy?

(UNKNOWN): The stakes have never been higher.

AMANPOUR: This morning, reforming how children learn, an exclusive debate with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, and Michelle Rhee, chancellor of Washington, D.C.'s, public schools.

Plus, reforming what fuels children in the classroom, one man's fight for good food and healthy test scores.

OLIVER: The epidemic of obesity is killing people.

AMANPOUR: An exclusive interview with Emmy Award-winning celebrity chef and activist Jamie Oliver.

Then, Katrina, politics and the economy, analysis on our roundtable with George Will, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, Susie Gharib of "The Nightly Business Report," and Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

And the Sunday funnies.

LETTERMAN: And a big controversy in the Miss Universe contest. Miss Iran, yes, disqualified for enriching uranium.

ANNOUNCER: From all across our world to the heart of our nation's capital, ABC's "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour starts now.


AMANPOUR: Hello again, everyone. And consider this: Students returning to class this week are less likely to finish high school than their parents, and they're falling behind students in other countries, scoring lower in science than their peers in 28 nations and ranking 35th in math, behind countries like Estonia and Azerbaijan.

The Obama administration is attempting the most ambitious school reform in a generation, but it's also sparked battles with teachers unions over accountability and merit pay.

The secretary of education says that those countries that out-educate America today will out-compete America tomorrow.


DUNCAN: I'm Arne. How are you doing?

AMANPOUR (voice-over): With $100 billion in federal stimulus money and a close personal friendship with the president, Arne Duncan has an unprecedented opportunity to reform education in America.

DUNCAN: Education is the civil rights issue of our generation.

AMANPOUR: Duncan, former CEO of the Chicago school system, learned the importance of education early on. His mother ran an after-school tutoring program.

DUNCAN: What I was lucky enough to have ingrained in me was that poverty (inaudible) that with opportunities, with support, and (inaudible) every single child can be successful.

AMANPOUR: A former professional basketball player, Duncan is playing with a local basketball team in Louisiana. He's on an eight-state back-to-school bus tour, and he's got business to do, smoothing ruffled feathers amongst the teachers.

DUNCAN: What are we not doing and what should we be doing differently?

(UNKNOWN): And welcome to the classroom. I'm (inaudible)

DUNCAN: Thanks for all the hard work. I appreciate it.

AMANPOUR: The administration's teacher reform plan is controversial. Duncan is calling for schools to use data on student achievement to evaluate teachers, a measure long opposed by teachers unions, but aimed to make sure that children get the best in class.

DUNCAN: In educate, we've been scared to spotlight excellence.

AMANPOUR: Duncan says that student performance and growth should also be used, that teachers are uneasy about having their work tied to student test scores.

(UNKNOWN): How are we going to assess teachers in different ways? Because testing is not the way, Mr. Secretary.

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