In a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Duncan called those criticisms “imaginary” and accused opponents of the Common Core of spreading misinformation.
Here are his remarks to the gathering of newspaper editors, as prepared for delivery:
“The work you are doing to help the next generation become more sophisticated in understanding the news is absolutely vital. To have full power over their lives, young people must understand the world they live in. They have to read, they have to follow the news, and they have to vote. All that is such an important part of what it means to be educated. So, thank you.
Traditionally, this event has been an opportunity for federal leaders to talk about touchy subjects. For example, you asked President Kennedy to talk about the Bay of Pigs. So, thanks for having me here to talk about the Common Core State Standards.
Academic standards used to be a subject for after-school department meetings and late-night state board sessions. But now, they’re a topic for dueling newspaper editorials. That’s because a new set of standards — rigorous, high-quality learning standards, developed and led by a group of governors and state education chiefs — are under attack as a federal takeover of the schools. And your role in sorting out truth from nonsense is really important.
So I’d like to explain how we arrived at this place. I’ll talk about information and misinformation, and ask you to help Americans draw a bright line between the two. I’d like to make the case that these standards have the capacity to change education in the best ways – setting loose the creativity and innovation of educators, raising the bar for students, strengthening our economy and building a clearer path to the middle class. But for these new standards to succeed, Americans will need to be clear on what’s true and what’s false.
You and I wake up every day to similar worries and similar hopes. We just attach different labels to them.
You wonder whether there’s a market for serious news. You wonder whether a generation that grew up on text messages and Twitter will read about interest rates and Iran.
I worry about the one in four young Americans who don’t graduate from high school — and the three out of four high school graduates who are ineligible to serve in the military. I worry about the 90 million American adults with below-basic or basic reading skills.
If you don’t worry about these things — you will. Because they put your future at risk — and ours.
For America to prosper — and for journalism to survive — we need a generation that reads, writes and thinks.