Education Secretary Arne DuncanArne Starkey DuncanTrump administration is putting profits over students Chicago to make future plans a graduation requirement: report Top Education official resigned over dispute with DeVos: report MORE on Monday apologized for a comment he made about “white suburban moms” opposing new education standards.

"My wording, my phrasing, was a little clumsy, and I apologize for that,” Duncan told CNN on Monday. 

Last week, Duncan told a group of state education chiefs that some opposition to the Common Core State Standards came from “white suburban moms who — 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.” 

Common Core is a state-led initiative that standardizes the English and Math curricula from kindergarten through the end of high school. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards.

Critics of the new requirements argue its guidelines force teachers to teach to a test.

White House spokesman Jay Carney evaded the controversy at the Monday press briefing, saying he had not seen Duncan’s “full comments.”

"If his point was that we need to be honest with kids and parents about whether we're providing the skills they need to succeed, I think we can all agree on that," he said.

Carney declined to comment when asked if Duncan’s remark about white mothers was appropriate.

Duncan told CNN the point he was trying to make was that his department’s goal is to prepare students for a “globally competitive work force.”

"I didn't say them perfectly, and I apologize for that," he said. "My point is that children from every demographic across this country need a well-rounded, world-class education, and frankly, we have challenges not just in our inner cities but in our suburban areas to and we need to have honest conversations about that."

— This story has been corrected to reflect that Common Core is a state-led initiative.