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Jay Carney Defends 'Broader Point' of Education Secretary's 'White Suburban Moms' Comment


"I didn't see all of Arne's comments..."


White House press secretary Jay Carney said most people should be able to agree with the “broader point” of comments by Education Secretary Arne Duncan assigning gender and race to opponents of Common Core. That broader point is honesty about education standards, Carney said.


Speaking Friday to a group of school superintendents about the controversial Common Core State Standards for education, Duncan said, “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. You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.”

Carney was asked whether President Barack Obama had any thoughts on what Duncan said during the Monday White House press briefing.

“I haven't spoken to the president about this issue and I haven't seen Arne's full comments. But if his point is that we need to be honest with kids and parents about whether we need to provide the skills they need to succeed, I think we can all agree on that,” Carney said. “So, again, I haven't had a discussion with the president on that, but I think the broader point is we need to be honest about providing the skills that our children need, I think we can agree on that.”

A reporter asked whether it was "appropriate" for the education secretary to define a group of people by race.

Carney again stressed that he wasn't aware of the full comment.

“I didn't see all of Arne's comments. I can just tell you, the secretary of education and everybody on the president's team is dedicated to this effort to never stop making sure that we do everything we can working with states and others to ensure that our kids are getting the education they need for the 21st century, for the careers of the 21st century,” Carney said.

Common Core is the controversial education standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia for English and math for kindergarten through 12th grade. The system was developed and supported by the National Governors Association and teachers unions and is also backed by the Obama administration and its “Race to the Top” education framework. Opponents have criticized the system as a one-size fits all system that could harm locally controlled education.


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