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Obama's Education Secretary: Not in Trump's 'Best Interest to Have a Well-Educated Citizenry'

Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaks

WASHINGTON – Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who served in the Obama administration, argued that the U.S. does not “value our kids the way other nations do” and that Americans “value our guns more than we value our children.”

Duncan named Australia, Canada, England and Japan as other countries that do not have the same level of gun violence when compared to the U.S.

“We don’t lack the intellect; we lack the political will and courage to keep our kids safe. In fact, we’ve now raised a generation of teens on mass shootings and gun violence,” Duncan, author of the new book How Schools Work: An Inside Account of Failure and Success from One of the Nation's Longest-Serving Secretaries of Education, said on Thursday at the National Press Club.

“So, for me, the lie here is you’ll never find anyone who says we don’t value kids. Everyone says we value our kids, but I would argue we actually don’t and we allow them to die and we allow them to live with a level of trauma and fear and terror that doesn’t happen in other countries – that’s a choice that we, as Americans, tragically make,” added Duncan, whose wife is originally from Australia.

Duncan described his views on the federal government’s handling of gun control when he was the superintendent of Chicago Public Schools from 2001-2009.

“What I believed at that time – this is a tough thing to say – but it is what I believed, was that our country didn't care about black and brown kids and that nothing would change in terms of gun laws until white kids were killed,” Duncan said. “Then the Sandy Hook massacre happened and that was my worst day in D.C. by far. President Obama dealt with the hardest issues on the planet by definition – his worst day.”

Duncan talked about his outlook on gun policy when the Sandy Hook mass shooting occurred and how he felt when Congress did not pass federal gun legislation in the aftermath.

“The realization I came to then is it’s not that we just don’t value our black and brown kids – we don’t value any of our kids enough and, in fact, we value our guns more than we value our children,” he said.

Duncan argued that gun violence is a societal problem and not a school problem.

“Schools can and should take every protective measure, but schools aren’t the problem. Again, schools, for the vast majority of young people, it’s the safest place and the safest time they have during their day and this is on blocks, this is in homes, this is in neighborhoods across the country on a continual basis,” he said. “To act like somehow schools can solve this absent doing something about guns, we’re just being extraordinarily intellectually dishonest, I would argue, in an attempt just to sell more guns and manufacture more fear.”