Arne Duncan delivered his final speech today as U.S. Secretary of Education after serving in the position for the past seven years. Part of Duncan’s speech was devoted to the ongoing need to keep children safe from gun violence, and he expressed his disappointment in Congress for failing to address the issue.
President Obama, who quietly commuted the sentences ofnearly 100 felons before taking off for his family vacation in Hawaii, has long conflated education and incarceration, suggesting that the money saved by releasing prisoners could be redirected to educational reforms.
You might remember back in July, when the president’s laser focus was trained on criminal justice reform. If nonviolent offenders were releasedfrom prison, he tweeted, the $80 billion saved could pay for universal pre-K, double the salary of every high school teacher, andeliminate tuition at every public college and university in America.
Duncan was obviously on board, repeating the president’s wish list on his way out the door.
Of course, “nonviolent” is the critical variable there, and Duncan also chose to speak on guns and gun control.
Education Week reports:
If young people “honestly don’t believe in their heart that they are going to live past 23, what does that do to their decision making?” he asked.
Duncan also chided Congress for failing to pass even basic gun-restriction legislationsaying that lawmakers’ are out of step with public opinion.
Even though the push to combat gun violence probably isn’t the policy Duncan will be best remembered for, it’s hardly a new area of interest for him. He’s been an outspoken advocate on this issue since his time as superintendent of Chicago Public schools. He was even named the most “anti-gun” member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet by the National Rifle Association.
Duncan even spoke briefly on the complementary nature of the Defense Department and the Education Department.
Finally, Duncan argued that opportunity is unevenly distributed in America. At least he didn’t blame climate change, although we suspect “unfettered” capitalism has a lot to do with it.
Not running for mayor of Chicago, then?