Education Secretary Arne Duncan (Stephanie Klein-Davis/AP)

Duncan, highly regarded on the Hill by both parties, made the remarks after addressing a roomful of education officials and economists at an event sponsored by the Hamilton Project, part of the Brookings Institution.

Duncan corrected one audience member who asked about his agenda if there is second Obama term.

When,” Duncan interjected, prompting laughter. “When there is a second term.”

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.