U.S. Department of Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, delivered a speech today that laid out the future of the public school education system. Preview articles like in USA Today stated that:

“Duncan plans to invoke the Rev. Martin Luther King‘s 1963 letter from a Birmingham jail that made the case for non-violent civil disobedience as state and local governments dragged their feet in integrating schools and communities. Duncan will tell the group that after 50 years of school reforms, court rulings and “watershed” reports, “we’re still waiting for the day when every child in America has a high-quality education that prepares him or her for the future.”

“The planned speech, provided to USA TODAY on Wednesday, also will challenge the groups to focus on getting “great teachers and principals into underperforming schools” and giving schools a testing system that “accurately and fairly measures student growth and uses data to drive instruction and teacher evaluation,” among other measures.”

Despite Duncan’s rhetoric on the importance of high-quality education, he spends most of his time tip-toeing around the root of the problem instead of addressing it, saying, “we are still waiting for the day when every child in America has a high-quality education that prepares him or her for the future. We’re still waiting, and we can’t wait any longer.” Good news that Duncan doesn’t want to wait any longer, but what is the change? I can’t see it, the American people can’t see it. If we can’t see it, no one will believe it.

Secretary Duncan believes that improvements need to be made in “No Child Left Behind.” However, he needs to introduce a completely new course of action to reform the education system and not just continue to give speeches full of fluff to the American people. For starters, he needs to support school choice. School choice and school vouchers have proven effective and they should continue. He also needs to stop assuming that schools which are underachieving just need more money. The District of Columbia, for example, spends roughly $24,600 per student and has one of the worst public education systems in the country.  In comparison, the state of Maryland has a very effective public education system and only spends $10,631 per student. It is not about the money. It is about the quality of teachers and the education system.

Also, Secretary Duncan needs to make sure teachers are held accountable for their students. And he needs to end the idea of teacher tenure if teachers fail their students. Duncan needs to start being tough on teachers and the education system – because if he doesn’t, he won’t be the only one that fails; America’s future will fail too.