An Education Second to None

Photo of Secretary Duncan at Miramar
The 2nd Marine Division of the U.S. Marine Corps has a history of performing their best during tough fights.  The motto of the 2nd Division is “Second to None,” and just as the 2nd Division strives to be the best when called into action, President Obama has called the entire country to action in making our schools and students the best in the world once again.

Education and national security are closely related.  Only 25 percent of American youth qualify to enter the Armed Forces. Three out of four applicants are turned away because they lack a high school diploma, are obese, or have a criminal record. This sobering statistic means America’s ability to defend itself is put in jeopardy.

Yesterday at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego, California, Secretary Duncan joined Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Commanding General of Marine Corps Installations West, Major General Anthony L. Jackson, as well as several other military and civilian leaders in an event to bring attention to the link between education and national security. Secretary Duncan spoke of the need for a greater investment in education to ensure that more young people graduate from high school, obey the law, and get in shape. This is an issue that will determine our national and economic security for decades to come.

The Secretary also noted that fixing No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is the right step in improving education and will put more students on the path to graduating high school.  Congressman Duncan Hunter explained that “We want to fix NCLB this year. If it doesn’t get done this year, it doesn’t get done.”

National Security Through Quality Education

Image of Secretary Duncan and General George Casey in a Classroom

Secretary Duncan and Army Chief of Staff General George Casey speak to JROTC cadets at North Middle School, Radcliff, Kentucky

What do national security, military readiness, and education have in common?  It turns out that national security and quality education are closely tied together.  A recent study found that 75% of America’s youth are NOT qualified to join the Armed Forces.  This could have serious effects on America’s ability to defend itself.

Secretary Duncan and ED have been working to address this national security problem by committing to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready for college and a career. Secretary Duncan continued that commitment earlier today when he joined Army Chief of Staff General George Casey in Radliff, Kentucky to help launch Project PASS, a new program to help put middle school students on the track to earning their high school diploma. (See photos.)

Project PASS is a new partnership between the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), the U.S. Army, and community leaders from around the country.  The initiative applies tenets of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) to middle schools in order to reduce dropout rates, increase citizenship, academics, and community and school service.

Read more about Project Pass.