Education secretary says governors need to cooperate


When U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speaks with governors Friday in Williamsburg, he'll have one overarching message: Let's work together to boost college completion rates.

"If we want to keep good jobs in this country, we need to have the best-educated workforce," Duncan said Wednesday. "Some form of higher education - four years of university, two years at community college, trade, technical, vocational training, some form of education beyond high school graduation - has to be the goal for every single young person."

Eight million more Americans ages 25 to 34 will need to earn either an associate's or a bachelor's degree for the Obama administration to reach its goal of leading the world in college graduates by 2020.

"It's an ambitious goal," Duncan said. "It's not going to be easy to get there."

Achieving it hinges on whether states maintain financial support for higher education and whether colleges and universities keep tuition affordable, Duncan said. He plans to issue that challenge Friday at the annual meeting of the National Governors Association at the Williamsburg Lodge.

In the past year, 40 states have cut funding for higher education, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Four-year public universities have raised tuition by 15 percent, on average, over the last two years.

"How many states cut funding to corrections?" Duncan asked. "I'm sure it was not 80 percent. What are our values? Do we want to lock people up on the back end, or do we want to educate them on the front end?"

Once the leader in educational attainment, the United States ranked 12th among 36 developed countries for its share of adults ages 25 to 34 with degrees, according to a 2011 report from College Board.

On Wednesday, Duncan said the U.S. rank has dropped to 16th.

As of 2010, 477,103 Virginians in that age group - or 45 percent - had earned a college degree, up from 462,259 the year prior, according to data provided by the U.S. Education Department.

That number will have to grow to somewhere between 749,000 and 824,000 if the state is to do its part in reaching the president's goal.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, has been promoting his own initiatives to expand access to college in the state. His goal is to award an additional 100,000 degrees to Virginians over the next 15 years.

Pilot writer Julian Walker contributed to this report.

Hattie Brown Garrow, 757-222-5562, hattie.brown@pilotonline.com

Posted to: Education Federal Government News Politics

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Nothing in the constitution even mentions education...

...therefore it is a States' Rights (10th Amendment) issue, not a Federal Mandate of any kind. The Secretary of Education should not be allowed to dictate anything to the States. Actually DOE should not exist Federally at all.

Post secondary education or

Post secondary education or training for all is a laudable goal, Mr. Duncan, but shouldn't there be some attention given to getting kids to high school graduation first? The dropout rates - especially in our inner cities - are a national disgrace.

Why not give some thought instead to removing the disastrous Bush era NCLB boot from the backs of state and local educators so that they can design appealing curriculum and have it delivered by enthusiastic teachers who are not in constant fear of losing their jobs because some bureaucratic and poorly designed statistical goal wasn't met?

Do this and schools might actually be able to keep youngsters in high school long enough to graduate high school - a first step to post secondary education.

Laudable goals

I agree with you about the NCLB and all it entails, however just getting rid of that is not going to solve the problems.

We must go back even further than the Bush era and just do away altogether with the Carter era concept of a federal Dept. of Education. The federal government has absolutely no business involved in K-12 education.

Secondary education isn't a right - it’s a privilege

do what non-lazy people have done for the last 150 years and work to pay for it yourself.

Get the Government out of funding it, and the cost will be less painful.

college completion rates, are you serious?

I have a better idea, whatever happened to states rights? The states should fight back to retake the rights to controlling their own public education program instead of the federal government. Once states take back control maybe they can fix the high school drop-out rate.

The word "cooperate"

So, does the president want a law passed that makes it illegal if people do not have a college education and that the "states"... excuse me...the people... pay for it? Apply a penalty? Aren't there penalties enough if you don't pay your student loans? So, he is saying, "ok, it shouldn't be free, but you are going to have to pay for it or else!" I mean now that he won Obamacare, why stop there?


Yeah... I missed the part of the U.S. Constitution concerning education? It isn't a right. It's none of the federal government's business. They need to, as usual, butt out. The U.S. Department of Education is a cash cow. States and municipalities should have the only authority over schools.

Imagine how many teachers could be hired if even half of Virginia's share of federal taxes that went to the U.S. DOE were given back to the state and localities.

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