Autotuned Arne Begins Bus Tour Across America

 

The back-to-school bus in Sacramento

The "Education Drives America" bus arrives in Sacramento. Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

Silicon Valley: Transforming learning through technology and teaching

You might not think that a panel discussion on education technology with the Secretary of Education and the Chairman of the FCC would excite an auditorium of high school students, but at Wednesday morning’s tour kick-off event at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, Calif., the air was electric.

Alejandro Castro Pena, an honors student who recently moved to the U.S. from El Salvador, previewed his video “We Are The Future.” Castro Pena and fellow students made the video in conjunction with the John Lennon Educational bus, and with a little help from a few members of the Black Eyed Peas. The video, which included clips of Arne autotuned, brought down the house. Watch the entire event here.

Castro Pena introduced Secretary Duncan, who then moderated a panel discussion on education technology with Khan Academy founder Sal Khan, English teacher Catlin Tucker, and co-founder of Coursera Andrew Ng. One of Tucker’s statements really stuck out to me. She said, “I don’t think tech is going to save education. I think great teachers with great tools are going to save education.” Arne often echoes this when he says that all the technology in the world won’t replace a great teacher at the front of the class.

Sacramento: Leading reform at the local level

Duncan talks with students at the University of Nevada Reno

Secretary Duncan held a town hall on college affordability at the University of Nevada Reno. Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

Our second stop of the day took us to the Sacramento Public Library, where Secretary Duncan participated in a discussion with dozens of California mayors and school superintendents.

Arne spoke about the importance of parental engagement and lamented that historically the Department of Education has  “underinvested in parental engagement.” He noted that ED’s Promise Neighborhoods program is one step toward a greater commitment, but he also said that he has requested for Congress to double the amount of money for building the capacity of parents to engage in their children’s education. Rather than dictate family engagement programs from Washington, Arne wants the Department to find programs that work at the local level and provide them with the resources they need to flourish.

Reno: Sending more Hispanic students to college

After making our way through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Arne joined students and community members for a town hall on college affordability and issues impacting Hispanic Americans at the University of Nevada Reno.

The panel, moderated by Univision anchor Anya Arechiga, also included Associate Vice Provost of the University of Washington Luis Fraga, a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

The questions for Duncan and Fraga were diverse, ranging from career and technical training to how to pay for college. Some of the highlights included Duncan reiterating that “we desperately need to pass the DREAM Act” and that education is the best investment our country can make. He also gave a shout out to ED’s new website for accessing financial aid for college: studentaid.gov.

After a great first day on the road, I could go on, but I’ll let the Secretary wrap up the day. Enjoy this video as the Education Drives America bus keeps rolling across the country:


Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.

Cameron Brenchley is director of digital engagement and is blogging and tweeting his way from coast-to-coast during ED’s annual back-to-school bus tour.

2 Comments

  1. It’s a shame that these greedy people want to start using our children in enriching their pockets. Charter schools are for profit and watch out anything for profit means poor quality manpower. There is a school program under the US Dept of Labor that is operated by private contractors, check it out as a case study. Keep their hands off our children’s education if America wants to remain the world superpower. Work with the students, teachers, parents, and the community for a better standard of education.

  2. “Our second stop of the day took us to the Sacramento Public Library, where Secretary Duncan participated in a discussion with dozens of California mayors and school superintendents.

    Arne spoke about the importance of parental engagement and lamented that historically the Department of Education has “underinvested in parental engagement.”

    Maybe if he’d INVITED parents instead of mayors and superintendents, this statement would’ve meant something. I’m sick of watching education being starved over years and making districts “race” for “grants” instead of fully funding all schools. Many of those mayors get marching orders from our big business charter operators who would love to see education privatized (and the public funds for it in THEIR pockets). Charters discriminate against students with moderate/severe disabilities, Foster & Homeless youth and English Language Learners. Where are these students to go in the new world order? Superintendents are being “placed” by people like Eli Broad (with his “academy” that has a tool-kit called “How to Close a School” and reconvert it to a charter). Making teachers bad guys and pushing the latest “reform” of the week will still not address the poverty, the need for parents and families of our children to receive help from the community so they can help their children succeed. How can you teach a hungry child? Or a homeless one? These issues have been ignored and by starting the tour in silicon valley instead of urban LA (the second-largest school district in the nation) where we’ve been hemorrhaging quality teachers at a record pace is showing that the support is not with families, but with business.

    Parent involvement is only “valued” when the State and Federal governments require them to sign “compliance” forms. We’ve been marginalized for years and with business taking over our public school system, it will become more opaque and more difficult for families.

Comments are closed.