Education Secretary Apologizes for Comments on ‘White Moms’

Arne Duncan: I used ‘clumsy phrasing that I regret’

Arne Duncan / AP
November 19, 2013

Education Secretary Arne Duncan apologized on Monday for comments made that opponents to Common Core academic standards are "white suburban moms" scared that "their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought."

"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," said Duncan at a gathering of state superintendents last week.

The comments led to the launch of a White House petition calling for Duncan’s removal. Other outraged parents formed the Facebook group Moms Against Duncan (MAD).

The backlash has led Duncan to post a formal apology on the department website, Politico reports:

In a blog post on the department website, Duncan said when he mentioned the white suburban moms, he had been trying to "encourage a difficult conversation and challenge the underlying assumption that when we talk about the need to improve our nation’s schools, we are only talking about poor minority students in inner cities." On the contrary, he said, "every demographic group has room for improvement."

Duncan, a white suburban dad who has two children in public schools, said he knows that "no one enjoys hearing tough news from school." Yet he said all parents "need the truth" – and that truth, he said, is that previous standards were too low, previous tests were too easy and American students are not prepared to compete in the global economy.

Published under: Obama Administration