Education Secretary Wishes U.S. Parents Were More Like South Koreans

By Penny Starr | August 10, 2011 | 5:00am EDT

Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Aug. 9, 2011. ( Starr)

( - U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan indicated yesterday that he wished American parents were more like South Korean parents in the attitude they take toward the education of their children.

“As I look across the globe and look at the competition we’re facing--places like South Korea where the president of South Korea talks to President Obama and President Obama asks the president of South Korea, ‘What’s your biggest educational challenge?’--this is a very high-achieving nation--he [South Korean president] says, ‘My biggest challenge are my parents in South Korea are too demanding, even my poorest parents demand a world-class education.’”

“We wish we had those kinds of challenges here,” Duncan said.

Duncan was speaking in Maryland at an Education Department conference on safe and drug-free schools.

Duncan also praised South Korea for its goal of replacing all textbooks with digital books over the next several years.

Duncan said the United States has fallen from first to ninth internationally in college graduation rates, adding that the U.S. high school drop out rate is 25 percent.

“That’s 1.2 million young people leaving our schools for the streets,” Duncan said. “There’s no chance for them to get a good job in the legal economy when that happens.”

The three-day conference, hosted by the Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, offered a wide-range of workshops, including one on “school climate” and its link to academic achievement, strategies for preventing “gender-based violence in schools,” and “Project Eat” to teach participants how to create programs that encourage physical activity and the eating of fruits and vegetables.

The conference also will include the screening of the documentary “The Bully Project.” Following the screening of the film on Tuesday night the director, Lee Hirsch, and the father of a “bullycide” victim will lead a discussion.

Bullycide is a term used by some to describe a victim of bullying who commits suicide.

“The film aims to be a catalyst for change in the way we deal with bullying as parents, teachers, children and society as a whole,” the flyer promoting the film states.

MRC Store