This week U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined education leaders and administrators from throughout Virginia to kickoff Governor McDonnell’s Innovate to Educate summit in Richmond.
The daylong summit highlighted Governor McDonnell’s K-12 and higher education agenda for the Commonwealth and focused on his education plan that expands public school options for students, embraces the role of technology, and enhances the pipeline of teacher talent.
Secretary Duncan expressed his optimism for education reform and the “new era of innovation in education that was almost unimaginable a decade ago.” He cited examples of innovation in Virginia’s and touted the state’s commitment to standards. He said that “when teachers and principals know what students are expected to know, they unleash the power of their own creativity and have the freedom to innovate.”
At the same time, he challenged Virginians, noting that 25 percent of their college students must take remedial classes. Secretary Duncan said “that’s simply not good enough” for today’s globally competitive economy and cited the administration’s goal that America will once again lead the world with the highest proportion of college graduates by the end of the decade. He urged Virginia to raise its standards so they prepare students for success in college and careers.
Governor McDonnell agreed that Virginia needs to continue strengthening its education system, saying, “We’re good, but we have a lot more to do to ensure our young people have full access to the American Dream in a global economy.” To help students achieve that dream, he wants to see more students complete college and earn degrees, setting an ambitious goal of awarding 100,000 new college degrees in the next 15 years.