U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visits Rotunda

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visits Rotunda

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says you have to think big thoughts. Or, at least, you do when you’re in the Dome Room of UVA’s Rotunda.

"This room is kind of intimidating," he told the audience, a mixture of Curry School of Education students and members of the press, for a speaking engagement this afternoon that focused on the need for not only more teachers, but better teachers.

Duncan, who in his youth spent time after school being tutored in a Chicago church basement through a program his mother ran, said teaching programs should be the most important at universities. "The biggest influence on students’ achievement is the quality of the teacher at the head of the class."

That statement seemed to be the cornerstone of his talk, as Duncan addressed the need for every child to get a valuable education, and that starts with the teacher.

"Most programs don’t teach students how to teach in high-poverty, high-needs areas," he said. "The Curry School is a happy exception."

Duncan closed his talk by answering questions on the No Child Left Behind Act, government funding of public schools, followed by more praise of the Curry School’s future educators.

"I strive to bottle your collective passion and take it with me everywhere as I travel across the country," he said.

U.S. Secretary of Education also visited Greenbrier Elementary School and spoke with Virginia superintendents this morning.