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Friday, December 11, 2009

Ed Henry Interviews Education Secretary Arne Duncan

CNN's Sr. White House Correspondent
interviews Ed. Secretary Arne Duncan

CNN’s Ed Henry, Sr. White House Correspondent, sat down for an interview with Ed. Secretary Arne Duncan to talk education on Friday, December 11th’s CNN Student News broadcast. The show asked their student and teacher audience to submit their questions to the show’s blog and Facebook fan page. A snippet of the interview can be seen on, by clicking the link for the day’s show or the full interview can be heard at Ed Henry’s 44 podcast,

Ed Henry had this to say about the questions he received from the students, “I thought what better way to cover these substantive education issues -- which affect every family -- than by highlighting the fine work of CNN's Student News. It was important to put the questions of real students and real teachers directly to Secretary Duncan. Plus THEIR questions were better than mine!”

CNN Student News provides educators, parents and students with a 10-minute news program anchored by Carl Azuz. In addition to airing on HLN each Monday through Friday at 4 a.m. ET, the newscast can be viewed on-demand at and is available for free download in the video podcast section of the iTunes store.

Source: CNN Press Release, December 11, 2009

Here's the CNN Student News from Friday. In addition to Ed Henry, it also includes a report from Jim Acosta.

Talking Education

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: CNN's Ed Henry sat down with Secretary Duncan to talk about some of these educational issues and answer some of the questions that you posted on our blog. Here's part of their conversation.


ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: CNN Student News put the fact that we were going to do this interview on their blog and on Facebook, and we got a lot of questions from students and teachers. So, I wanted to jump right in, because a lot of people wanted to ask about year-round education as an initiative. And in fact, there was one student named Fern who wanted to know if students have to go to school for more days per year under your vision, under the President's vision, would this mean you would compensate by having them go to school for less hours each day?

U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION ARNE DUNCAN: When I talk to students, this isn't the line that gets the most applause. Actually, I get booed occasionally. Let me explain, Ed, what I think. I've said repeatedly our current academic calendar is based upon the agrarian economy. The vast majority of students in our country aren't working the fields anymore. So, it's really an outdated, outmoded model. The biggest thing though is I'm worried that our students are at a competitive disadvantage with their peers in India and China. Students in those other countries are going to school 210, 220, 230 days a year. Our students are going to school 180 days a year, generally. And I think our students are absolutely smart, absolutely committed, can do extraordinary things. But we have to level the playing field. And if in a sports contest, one team is practicing three days a week and one team is practicing five days a week, the team that is practicing more is going to do better.

HENRY: Most of the people who wrote into our blog for CNN Student News, teachers and students, said that they were against this proposal, at least as they've currently heard it, and that's why I want to give you a chance to talk about it and address their concerns. Another student named Elizabeth wrote in, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to go to school in a longer day? It's hard enough to muster up enough motivation to go to school now." You can't deal with every student's motivation, but obviously it's part of what you want. How do you address that, when there are going to be some students out there saying, "I can't do it."

DUNCAN: Again, it's a different concept of what going to school means. If you talk about an extended day, I've been arguing, Ed, that I think schools should be open 12, 13, 14 hours a day. And not just more of the same, but in the after school hours: drama and art, some sports and music and chess, and debate, and academic decathalon. So, it's about a very different conception of what our schools can offer to our children and to the broader community.

HENRY: Something that we don't hear a lot about is special education. And Todd wrote in on CNN Student News something that I wanted to raise with you, because you're obviously very powerful and it's an issue that not a lot of people get your ear on. He said, "I see a lack of funding in special education. Our school is well-funded but the special ed" -- and he said he's a special ed student himself -- "department lacks funding. We're given second-hand items. I believe we deserve an equal opportunity to have equal standards as if it were like the rest of the students. How are you going to help us?"

DUNCAN: First of all, I just appreciate his passion and what he is asking for he shouldn't have to ask for. For him to be getting second-hand anything is unacceptable. These are our students. It doesn't matter; race, class, doesn't matter; special ed, non special ed, doesn't matter. English language learner or not. Every child deserves a world-class education. While it's never enough, thanks to the president's leadership and the bipartisan support of Congress, we have put more than $10 billion this year into increases specifically for special education students. Obviously, long way to go, historic levels of new revenue, new funding going into special education to try and address some of those unmet needs.

Source: CNN Student News Transcript, December 11, 2009

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