Obama’s Education Secretary: Pull Kids Out of School Until Gun Laws Change

Arne Duncan / Getty
• May 20, 2018 12:49 pm


Arne Duncan, who served as secretary of education under former President Barack Obama, on Friday proposed that parents pull their children out of school until elected officials enact tougher gun-control laws, calling the idea "brilliant."

Duncan's tweet came hours after a school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, left 10 people dead and another 10 wounded. The former education chief, who served in the role from 2009 through 2015, responded to a tweet from another former Obama administration official, Peter Cunningham, who suggested parents should "simply pull their kids out of school until we have better gun laws."

"This is brilliant, and tragically necessary," Duncan wrote, retweeting Cunningham's message. "What if no children went to school until gun laws changed to keep them safe? My family is all in if we can do this at scale. Parents, will you please join us?

In an interview on Saturday, Duncan said that the idea of a nationwide school boycott was intended to be provocative, but that such an approach is necessary for change.

"I'm open to other ideas, I'm open to different ideas, but I'm not open to doing nothing," Duncan said. "We will see whether this gains traction, or something does, but we have to think radically."

Duncan said that if the idea took traction, his family would participate.

The idea has already picked up some steam, including from Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp.

"This is not rocket science," Duncan said. "This is not a difficult intellectual issue. What we have lacked is political courage, and we need to create the tension that allows us to break through on this issue."