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Duncan launches ad campaign for new teachers catches on after a week of controversy

A week after he grabbed headlines for controversial comments he made about people who opposed Common Core learning standards, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is again making news — though it’s likely to be more well-received.

Duncan appeared this morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to announce the launch of a new campaign to recruit college students into the teaching profession. But the first question for Duncan had to do with his comments from last week, when he said told a room full of policy makers that some criticism for the Common Core was coming from “white suburban moms” who were finding out “all of a sudden, their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary.”

The remarks sparked immediate backlash, which Duncan addressed in a blog post this week. Duncan again said that he used “clumsy” wording, but that it distracted from a larger point.

“When you dummy down standards, when you’re lying to children, that affects all children, that affects all families,” Duncan told Morning Joe anchors. “Every child needs to have high standards. That was my very simple point.”

“We need to do a better job collectively articulating to parents why we want their children to be competitive, not in their district or their state,” Duncan added.

See video of the interview.

The recruitment campaign, called Make More, includes public service announcements that will air nationally and a new web site, Teach.org.

The campaign was launched to change the perception that top college students have about the profession. With half of the country’s teachers set to retire in coming years, few students in the top third of their college classes report that teaching is a viable career option.

The launch struck some as a convenient public relations move to shift attention away from last week’s comments:

Watch Duncan try to pivot from gaffe to teacher recruitment intiative http://t.co/0DTED4HzLU

— alexanderrusso (@alexanderrusso)November 21, 2013

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