Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told The Daily Caller on Monday that having children in school during the summer months is “the right thing to do” to compete with countries like China and India.
Duncan does not support a national standard for the length of public school days and years, but joked that he would like kids to stay in school year-round.
“I think kids should be in school 365 days a year. Now, I’m a little hard-lined there, not everyone agrees with me,” Duncan told TheDC after being honored by the Combined Federal Campaign on Monday in Washington.
“In all seriousness,” Duncan said, “particularly in disadvantaged communities, we know that summer reading loss is a huge problem, and so where children don’t have access to museums and libraries during the summer, having them be in school in those months to continue learning, that’s the right thing to do.”
“I’m tired of children getting to a certain point in June — thanks to a teacher’s hard work — and they come back in September further behind than when they left,” he added. “That doesn’t make sense.”
TheDC asked Duncan, the former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, if he thinks there should be a federally mandated length for a public school day and year.
“No, I think it needs to vary community by community, but the fact is children in other countries — India and China — are going to school 25, 30, 35 more days than our children. I just want to level the playing field,” he said. “I don’t want to have our children at a competitive disadvantage.”
Duncan also said he would like to see schools serve as “community centers” that stay open for 12 to 14 hours per day.
“The more schools become the hearts of the community, the better they’re going to do,” he said.