The two, speaking at Atlanta's Morehouse College -- the country's only male historically black college -- are part of a nationwide campaign to create a diverse teaching force that would include educators who come from the same ethnic backgrounds as many of their students, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported .
Federal estimates indicate the next 10 years will see more than 1 million teachers retiring, and leaders have undertaken concerted efforts to bring more minorities, especially black men, into the profession, the Journal-Constitution reported.
More than 35 percent of U.S. public school students are Latino or black, but less than 15 percent of the teachers are Latino or black, government statistics showed.
Black men make up less than 2 percent of the country's teachers, the newspaper said.
A Morehouse education major, Tyrone Young, said he plans to become an elementary school teacher.
"The profession isn't pushed for males. We need to see teaching as a way to touch lives and help our community. If you saw your family member wasn't succeeding, you'd step up to help. I believe we're all family. I need to do my part and help out."
Duncan told students that while many shun teaching for better-paying professions, there are programs that will wipe out their college debt if they work for 10 years as a public school teacher.