WASHINGTON -- Education Secretary Arne Duncan -- the former Chicago Public Schools CEO, said Wednesday that the persistent murderous youth violence in Chicago haunts him -- ''We don't live in Iraq,'' he said. He also said he will be jumping on the campaign trail next month to help candidates --including Democratic Illinois Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias.
A year ago, President Obama sent Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder to Chicago to meet with parents and students in the wake of a killing spree that is still ongoing. Last week, a Bowen High School sophomore was the first Chicago Public Schools student killed this school year; 40 CPS students were killed during the last school year. Against this backdrop, I asked Duncan to reflect on the situation in Chicago during a breakfast with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
''I thought it couldn't get much worse than when I was there,'' he said. ''I think in fact it has gotten worse. And it's staggering, it's absolutely unacceptable, and I have said repeatedly was by far, by far, the toughest issue that I dealt with. Nothing came close.'' He said the challenge was to ''rally the broader community to understand that we don't live in Iraq. Our children have to be safe going to and from school.''
The violence impacts other cities besides Chicago, but his experience "continues to haunt me. I don't have easy answers on it. ... I think too often the public likes to turn a blind eye."
As for the midterm elections, Duncan will join Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, first lady Michelle Obama and some other Cabinet officials to stump for candidates. ''Starting in mid-October, I will be out across the country working for a variety of candidates,'' he said.
Duncan was also asked about Illinois statewide testing results, where students turned in poor math scores. ''The test in Illinois makes no sense,'' Duncan said. ''There are no stakes for the child. What happened to the child who doesn't do well in the high school exam in Illinois?''
He answered his own question. ''Nothing,'' said Duncan. ''It is irrelevant.''
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WASHINGTON--Education Secretary Arne Duncan--the former Chicago Public School CEO said Wednesday that the persistent murders of students in Chicago haunts him.
"We don't live in Iraq," Duncan said. Our children have to be safe going to and from school. Clearly there is a hugh amount of work to be done," Duncan said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
I asked him about school violence--and if he was going on the road for the mid-term elections. He said he was--with an event for Democratic Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias on his schedule.
And Duncan also said those state math tests--the latest results had kids doing poorly--were a waste of time because the students had no stake in the outcome.