Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced this week that he has sought employment policy guidance from street gang leaders in Chicago.
Duncan made the remarks on Tuesday at the National Summit on Youth Violence Prevention in Crystal City, Va.
Duncan, a Chicago native, explained that only jobs will keep gangbangers from a life of crime.
“We have to have jobs for young people. I probably shouldn’t say this in a room like this, but occasionally when I go home I’ll sit down with some of the gang leaders – back home in Chicago,” Duncan said, according to EAGnews.org.
“It’s jobs. So we need to think about what we do at scale to create those kind of opportunities for young people who just have to make some money, want to do it in a positive way, but in too many places they don’t exist,” the Harvard graduate also said.
He did not specify the kinds of jobs.
Most of the economic activity of the urban street gangs in Chicago and the rest of the country involves drugs and dealing in stolen goods (especially guns). Violent killings are also a feature of gang life.
Some 600 organized criminal gangs operate in Chicago, according to a 2013 CBS News report. Total gang membership in the Second City is around 70,000.
About 25 percent of Chicago’s murders in 2011 were gang-related.
Duncan has a reputation for making public statements which range from odd to deeply stupid and offensive.
In November 2013, Duncan insisted that the irrational angst of “white suburban moms” was to blame for unrelenting opposition to Common Core standards. “It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary,” he sermonized. (RELATED: Arne Duncan Wishes He Would Have Expressed His Racist Sentiments More Skillfully)
Last June, the education secretary vaguely suggested that the federal government would punish Oklahoma after its duly-elected legislature voted to ditch the national educational standards. (RELATED: Arne Duncan Threatens Entire State Of Oklahoma Because It Backed Out Of Common Core)