What Does ‘Tautology’ Mean? Education Secretary Doesn’t Know

By Melanie Arter | February 8, 2013 | 10:05 AM EST

Education Secretary Arne Duncan (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Education Secretary Arne Duncan admitted on Thursday that he doesn’t know what the word “tautology” means, while appearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on his use of state flexibility waivers for the No Child Left Behind Act.

During Thursday’s hearing Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked that it be entered into the record that he realized his use of the words “added addition” was “a tautology.” To which Duncan replied, “I don’t know what tautology means, so…”

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Tautology is defined as “linguistic redundancy: the redundant repetition of a meaning in a sentence, using different words.”

“May I have … just in my record that I realize that ‘added addition’ is a tautology. I said that earlier in my question … so, an added addition. Is that a tautology? What is it? Okay, I’ll submit that question to a grammar,” Franken said.

“I don’t know what tautology means,” Duncan said.

“A redundancy, a redundancy,” Franken explained. “I’m sorry to have wasted everyone’s time.”

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was signed into law in 2002 by President George W. Bush, as a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Duncan appeared before the committee to explain his use of flexibility waivers for those states that do not meet the criteria of the No Child Left Behind Act so that those states can still receive federal education funding until the program is reauthorized.