Former education secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday sharply criticized the Trump administration’s policies on education and said he doubts the president wants an educated workforce because “it doesn’t play to his authoritarian tendencies.”
Duncan, who served as Barack Obama’s secretary of education through the end of 2015 and is currently promoting his new book, made the comments Tuesday morning during an interview with CNN.
Asked for his opinion on the performance of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who earlier this year drew criticism following a CBS interview in which she appeared to have difficulty answering questions on basic education issues, Duncan replied, “I think they’re really struggling. There’s no vision. There’s no meaningful strategy.”
Duncan criticized the Trump administration’s emphasis on school choice as “a small strategy” rather than an overarching goal, before taking aim at the president himself.
“I’m not sure President Trump wants to have the best-educated workforce,” Duncan said. “I think it doesn’t play to his authoritarian tendencies.”
Duncan argued that a highly educated workforce would mean more people challenging Trump on his policies as well as his false or misleading claims. “I’m not sure if that’s in his self-interest,” he said.
Last week, Trump signed legislation renewing a federal workforce development program that the White House says will benefit millions of students and workers. More broadly, the Trump administration has said school choice is its top educational priority, has proposed merging the Education and Labor departments, and has pushed to reduce the federal role in helping fund higher education for low-income students.