Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton joined Secretary Arne Duncan this week in Philadelphia for the first stop of their education tour of several cities. They visited classes and talked with students and teachers at the Mastery Charter Schools Shoemaker Campus and McDaniel Delaplaine Elementary School (see photos below).
The former House Speaker and the civil rights leader are joining Duncan on this tour to highlight education issues and help rally support for:
- higher learning standards
- lifting restrictions on the growth of high-quality charter schools
- turning around low-performing schools
- improving principal and teacher quality
- greater transparency and accountability in all schools.
They issued a joint statement, saying:
“In the global economy of the new century, the jobs of the future will go to the best educated. Today, however, American education is at a crossroads. One path leads to reform and progress, a better-trained workforce and a well-informed citizenry. Another path leads to the status quo: only 70 percent of students graduating; about 40 percent of 25 to 34 year-olds with a two-year or four-year college degree; double-digit achievement gaps among whites, Hispanics and African-Americans; stagnating performance on international tests. Our hope is that these school visits and conversations will inspire the full array of stakeholders to set aside partisanship and ideology and join together in support of a common education reform agenda that addresses our core challenges and provides every child in every school the very best education possible.”
Other scheduled stops are New Orleans on November 3 and Baltimore on November 13, with more to come as the tour progresses.