A View from the Stands
By: Brandon Brown and Max Rosado
What a privilege for middle school students Natalie Snyder and Jacob McNulty from Frankfort, Kentucky to introduce the current U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. After being introduced, Secretary Duncan delivered his keynote speech to the audience of educators. At the conclusion of his well-thought-out speech, Dr. Cedrick Gray from Tennessee began the question and answer session with Secretary Duncan. Two eighth grade students, Grant Helton and Cole Weirich from Turkeyfoot Middle School located in Northern Kentucky, and current president of AMLE, Nancy Poliseno, questioned Secretary Duncan. When the questions were asked, Secretary Duncan replied with confidence and ease. Asked of his biggest challenges, Secretary Duncan first responded with the challenge of working with Congress. He believes there are too many leaders around the country who wish to scale back on education. He also believes there are too many who feel education is more of an expense and not a needed investment. The second biggest challenge he feels he also faces as Secretary of Education is that as a country we are not competing well enough in comparison to other students around the world. When asked what he wishes his legacy to be, Secretary Duncan simply stated he wants young people to do well and to graduate from high school. His strongest desire is for students to reach their goals and strive to achieve their dreams. After this, Secretary Duncan was asked how he thinks education needs to change in order to compete globally. He replied that the U.S. is currently 16th in the world in college graduates, and in 2020 Obama wants to be number one in the world. He wants people to not vote from a political standpoint but from a desire to place people in leadership with the goal of caring about education. Lastly, he was asked for his vision for middle schools. He responded by saying his desire is to have vibrant middle schools as a norm rather than the exception. Seeing engaged middle schoolers taking high school level courses and participating in extracurricular activities at school would be an integral part in realizing this vision. Striving for excellence and excitement within the middle schools is Secretary Duncan's passion for the advancement of middle school student success. This inspirational talk by the Secretary of Education is encouraging for me and my fellow classmates to strive to take the lead in the future.