U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s professional basketball experience is well known, but Lakeville, Minnesota students were thrilled to experience his team playing on a very different “court” during his visit to Crystal Lake Elementary School with U.S. Rep. John Kline and Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius in suburban Minneapolis Friday.
The three visitors each joined a team of Crystal Lake 4th graders for a rousing game of Jeopardy during science class, with Duncan among the “McFlurries,” Kline with the “Earthquakes,” and Cassellius a member of the “Ice Cubes.” Water was the theme of the classroom version for the longtime TV game show.
Kline’s team went first, choosing the category “waters to waters.” The question was, “type of precipitation depends on _____ outdoors?” The Earthquakes correctly responded with “temperatures,” and erupted with high-fives as they were awarded 50 points.
Tensions were thick for the McFlurries as they chose “water vocabulary” as their category and got the question, “crystals of ice can also be referred to ________?” Just seconds before the buzzer was sounded, Duncan’s teammate Tyler correctly blurted-out, “Snow!”
“That was clutch, boy!” exclaimed the Secretary to his beaming teammates as they celebrated the victory.
In response to students’ questions afterwards, Duncan confirmed that he does get to play basketball with the President. He also discussed the tougher aspects of his position, noting that he gets “a lot of homework” every night, including hefty reading assignments.
The Secretary, Kline and Cassellius also visited a 2nd grade English Language Learners classroom, which read a welcome letter to the visitors.
Duncan preceded the school visit with a speech hosted by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce to business, community and political leaders about the important link between education and economic prosperity, and how the President’s agenda supports reform on the K-12 level and makes college affordable for students.
“I think we’re fighting for our nation’s economic security,” he said, noting earlier that about 25% of all students currently choose to drop-out of high school, although there are virtually no good job opportunities available to them. “In a globally-competitive, knowledge-based economy, those with low skills are going to lose. Those communities with high skills and a highly-educated workforce will be successful.”