Secretary Arne Duncan's Remarks at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Virginia

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Secretary Arne Duncan's Remarks at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Virginia

March 14, 2011

Two years ago, I came to Washington with one goal-- to give every single child in America the very best education possible.

While I was optimistic about what we could accomplish, I never imagined we would be where we are today.

Over the last two years, we have seen more change in our education system than we've seen over the past two decades.

And that is in large part due to the leadership of the man I'm about to introduce this morning.

This President knows firsthand that if you work hard and get a good education, you can do anything.

Everything he and the First Lady have is because of their education and their hard work.

They are both incredible role models for all of you students here today-- and that's just one reason I am hopeful.

I am also hopeful because while this President has been fighting two wars and the worst economy since the Great Depression, he has maintained a sharp focus on education.

He understands— That we need to educate our way to a better economy; That the nation that out-teaches us today will out-compete us tomorrow; And that we can't rebuild public education on the same old system of rules and regulations.

He knows we have a shared responsibility to change the rules, eliminate the excuses and hold ourselves accountable.

Because of this President's courage and commitment:

We've saved or created 300,000 educator jobs;

Increased annual Pell grants by $17 billion to send more young people to college;

Incentivized forty-one states and the District of Columbia to adopt state driven college and career-ready standards;

Encouraged thirteen states to alter laws to foster the growth of charter schools;

Supported seventeen states in their efforts to reform teacher evaluation systems;

Helped nearly 1,000 of the nation's lowest performing schools begin to turn around;

And funded some of the most innovative projects in the education field.

But there is much more work to be done. A lot more work.

While No Child Left Behind helped expand the standards and accountability movement, there is much that needs to be fixed.

Many teachers complain bitterly about NCLB's emphasis on testing. Principals hate being labeled as failures. Superintendents say it wasn't adequately funded.

And many parents just view it as a toxic brand that isn't helping children learn.

We need to fix NCLB now. And it can't wait.

27% of America's young people drop out of high school. That means 1.2 million teenagers are leaving our schools for the streets.

17-year olds today are performing at the exact same levels in math and reading as they were in the early 1970's on the NAEP test.

And just 40% of young people earn a two-year or four-year college degree.

We don't need another study. We must stop simply admiring the problem. We need action.

I know that. All of you here today know that.

And the man committed to leading us forward knows that. I'd like to introduce to you--

The President of the United States.