We’re Not in Kansas Anymore…But We Were for Bus Tour Day Five

Duncan high fives Corky the Hornet at Emporia

Secretary Duncan gives a high five to Corky the Hornet at Emporia State University. Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

Topeka: Celebrating a legacy of hope and courage

If we’ve learned anything in three years of producing back-to-school tours, it’s that an event that begins with a high school band is bound to be terrific. That was certainly the case at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kan., an event that opened with an inspiring performance from the Topeka High School drumline and ended with an inspiring speech by Secretary Duncan.

The backdrop for this first stop of the day was Monroe Elementary, which became the center of a legal challenge in 1950 seeking to end segregation in public schools. Duncan joined National Education Association (NEA) President Dennis Van Roekel to honor the legacy of hope and courage represented by the U.S. Supreme Court case.

The “truth that stands out at these historic landmarks is that our civil rights heroes were often ordinary men, women, and children,” Duncan said. “They remind us that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things. From unexceptional circumstances comes exceptional courage—and transformational change.”

Van Roekel and Duncan talked about education as key to providing opportunity for all. “Here, of all places,” Arne said. “Let us affirm again that in America, education is, and always must be, the great equalizer.”

Click here to read Secretary Duncan’s speech.

Emporia: Training the next generation of great teachers

Following the stop in Topeka, the Education Drives America bus kept rolling east to Emporia and Emporia State University. Emporia State is the home of the National Teacher Hall of Fame, and after touring the exhibits and meeting inductees, Duncan and Van Roekel joined hundreds of college of education students, Emporia faculty and students for a standing-room-only town hall on the teaching profession.

Students performing at National Historic Site

At the Brown v Board of Education National Historic Site, elementary students sang Kansas' state song "Home on the Range." Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

Duncan and Van Roekel, who leads the nation’s largest union of education professionals, spoke to the importance of transforming and elevating the teaching profession, as well as training the next generation of great teachers. Duncan implored those students going into the profession to make their voices heard, explaining that changes to the profession must be led by teachers.

Emporia students asked thoughtful questions about teacher training, standards and the use of standardized testing. Van Roekel explained that when it comes to test scores,  “it’s not testing that’s bad; it’s how you use it.”

Watch this ED video about Emporia State’s model teacher preparation program, which emphasizes in-classroom training alongside veteran educators.

Kansas City: Education and the economy inextricably linked

The final stop for Day Five took the Secretary to a rooftop overlooking Kansas City, Mo., for a town hall at the Penn Valley campus of Metropolitan Community College. Produced in conjunction with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, the town hall addressed education issues affecting the Hispanic community.

One of the major themes of the discussion was the importance investing in education from birth and continuing it until career. Duncan noted a recent increase in college enrollment among Hispanics but explained that “the goal can’t just be about going to school, but graduating.”

Responding to a question about charter schools, Arne reaffirmed that he supports high-quality charter schools. Charter or district-run, what the nation ultimately needs is simply “more great public schools,” he said.

The Education Drives America bus keeps moving east, and on Wednesday will be joined by Deputy Secretary of Education Tony Miller for stops in Columbia, Mo., and St. Louis, Mt. Vernon, Ill., and Evansville, Ind.

See what people said on Twitter during Day Five and watch our video summary:


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.

Connecting with Colorado Communities: Bus Tour Day Four

Students at Lowry Elementary in Denver waved goodbye to the "Education Drives America" bus. Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

Students at Lowry Elementary in Denver waved goodbye to the "Education Drives America" bus. Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

Denver: Getting fit and staying healthy

It may have been a once-in-lifetime occurrence: two cabinet secretaries, one governor, two U.S. senators and dozens of students all line-dancing. Historic or not, the importance of the Let’s Move! back-to-school bus tour event at Lowry Elementary in Denver, was clear: Children who are healthy and active are better prepared to learn.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan joined Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Lt. Governor Joseph Garcia, Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet and Colorado Commissioner of Education Robert Hammond.

Lowry is part of the Denver Public Schools’ Garden to Cafeteria program, which allows students to grow fruits and vegetables at school and then provide some of their harvest to the school cafeteria for school lunches. The visiting dignitaries ate lunch with students in the cafeteria, toured the schools’ gardens and then worked up a sweat by shooting hoops with students and doing the line dance known as the “Cupid Shuffle.”

Secretary Duncan talks with 1st graders at Limon

Secretary Duncan talks with 1st graders at Limon Public School. Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

Limon: Celebrating Constitution Day

The back-to-school bus’s next stop, Limon, Colo.—population around 1,800—doesn’t get visited by cabinet secretaries often. And that’s a shame, because the eastern Colorado community’s dedication to its school shouldn’t go unnoticed. After a spirited welcome by the Limon Public School band, Secretary Duncan and staff took part in a Constitution Day assembly. (Constitution Day, Sept. 17, is being commemorated in schools all this week. Here are some teaching and learning resources about the Constitution.)

Lt. Governor Garcia, a former college president, traveled on the bus from Denver and explained the importance of understanding our rights under the Constitution. “We need you to become civically engaged,” he told the students.

Limon student body president Toby Kropp introduced Arne and noted that Limon is special because “in the classroom we have demonstrated great excellence.” Kropp boasted Limon’s impressive record in athletics, as well, and challenged the Secretary to a one-on-one basketball game with any member of the Limon basketball team.

During his remarks, Arne said that Constitution Day is a time to reflect about our basic rights as Americans, rights that in some countries “simply don’t exist.”

We were impressed by the community’s support for Limon Public School, which spans kindergarten through 12th grade. Arne praised the community’s dedication by noting that “when an entire community rallies around its school, nothing but good can happen.”

Watch the video highlights from day four:


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

On Tuesday, the Education Drives America bus heads to Topeka and Emporia, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo. Follow the tour on Twitter with the hashtag #edtour12.

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.

Wyoming Is Ready to Work: Bus Tour Day Three

Town Hall at Laramie County Community College

Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier, Under Secretary Kanter and Chief of Staff Weiss joined Laramie County Community College President Joe Schaffer for a community town hall. Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

Rock Springs: Celebrating career academies

A four-year college education isn’t for everyone. Both President Obama and Secretary Duncan often note the importance of community colleges, technical and career programs to the future of our country’s economic health. Earlier this year, the Administration proposed a new blueprint for transforming career and technical education (CTE) that would dedicate $1 billion to provide high-quality job-training opportunities that reduce skill shortages and spur business growth.

The CTE blueprint would also expand career academies by 3,000, which brings us to Friday’s first back-to-school bus tour event at Rock Springs High School in Rock Springs, Wyo. Rock Springs High has two career academies, one focused on energy the other on health care. Career academies combine college-prep work and career and technical curricula, and help prepare students to continue their education at the postsecondary level and for successful careers.

Under Secretary Martha Kanter, Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss and Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier toured Rock Springs’ academies and held a roundtable with school officials, teachers and students.

After hearing from former Rock Springs’ students how the academies prepared them for careers after high school, Kanter noted that Rock Springs is an “island of excellence,” and also praised the students and school for having so many girls in the energy program and interested in engineering. (Young women are commonly under-represented in science, technology, engineering and math programs.) After boarding the bus for our next stop, we all commented how inspired we were by Rock Springs, and how important it is that these model programs not remain islands, but rather expand throughout the country.

Read more about this visit from Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss.

Rawlins: Positive developments in distance learning

Following our visit to Rock Springs, the Education Drives America bus rolled on to the Carbon County Higher Education Center in Rawlins, Wyo. In this rural area, the Center is improving education opportunities through the use of distance learning.  Kanter and Weiss joined Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach John White for a roundtable discussion with school officials, teachers, parents, students and business leaders.

Kanter asked the group what they viewed as their biggest challenges. One teacher noted that there is a great need for technological infrastructure and support, and a local energy business leader explained that students aren’t coming out of high school with the necessary skills to work for his company.

ED leadership tour a wind turbine

Assistant Secretary Dann-Messier and Under Secretary Kanter climbed inside a wind turbine after the town hall. Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

We could see that bringing business and school leaders together was an important step in this bus tour stop, and we look forward to seeing exciting new public-private partnerships in this area of Wyoming.

Cheyenne: Linking education and jobs

The Education Drives America bus made its final stop of the week at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne. Surrounded by massive wind turbines, Kanter, Weiss and Dann-Messier held a town hall to discuss the important link between education and jobs. The trio fielded a variety of questions, and Kanter spoke to the importance of community colleges while Dann-Messier noted that Laramie was an example of how public-private partnerships are helping students and the local economy.

See what people were saying on Twitter during day three, and watch this video summary of our day in Wyoming:


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

The bus parked over the weekend and will be back on the road Monday when Secretary Duncan rejoins the tour in Denver. Get email updates about the tour by signing up here.

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.

Wyoming Career Academy Feeds Local Demand for Energy and Health Care Workers

Roundtable discussion at Rock Springs High School

The roundtable discussion at Rock Springs High School highlighted the school's career academies. Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

In Wyoming, where the Education Drives America tour stopped Sept. 14, the career academy at Rock Springs High School is a model worth shouting about, because it graduates students who are truly both college and career ready.

There are two academies at Rock Springs – energy and health care – both carefully selected in consultation with local businesses to reflect the economic needs of Sweetwater County and the surrounding region. In Wyoming, the energy sector is vibrant – coal, natural gas, wind, and even uranium. And health care is a huge need in every community. So the decision about where to start was clear. Plans are in place to add two new academies in the next couple of years.

The students take all of the required core high school courses they need for college entry. But they also take a full complement of courses in their “academy.” So, from sophomore year on, science, English, etc. are theme-focused. There are specialized courses as well – many taught together with the local community college, so students get dual credit.

 Every student does internships, and the internships are intense (and represent a big commitment from community members who are shadowed) – juniors and seniors are there every single week. The experience is rich. Interns get a deep sense of the workplace and establish connections and relationships that are meaningful and lasting. Most of the kids we talked to had gotten part-time paying jobs with people they had shadowed.
The teachers had a shared sense of mission. They were science teachers using career and technical education to make their teaching relevant. As one terrific teacher said, “In fields like health care and energy that require math and science, we have to show kids they can do this. We have to make math and science accessible. And we have to provide kids with places where it’s safe to fail – or they’ll never know they can succeed.”

One student said, “I didn’t realize I was interested in health care at all until I started at the career academy. I shadowed a nurse practitioner and now I have a job anytime I’m home for breaks. I’m studying to be a nurse.”

A parent told us about her son who earned a phlebotomy certificate as part of his health academy education. He’s now pre-med and is working his way through college being a phlebotomist–by far a higher paying job than he’d otherwise get, and it’s related to his field of study.

Another parent told us that her son is severely hard of hearing and that the health academy had opened a new world for him and changed his life trajectory. He’d only thought of health care professionals as doctors or nurses. But in the Rock Springs program, he was able to experiment with different options and find jobs that he could do well. “He’s a whole new person now,” she said, “empowered, and with a direction.”

An energy academy graduate, who’s now a freshman in college, said, “I have so much confidence and a direction about what I want to do with my future. I know so much [from high school] that I have a little bit of an advantage over the other kids in my college class.”

As a teacher concluded, “If each of us teaching in K-12 isn’t educating kids for a career, what are we in this for? Academic and career teaching and learning need to be on the same level of importance, and go hand-in-hand.”

Joanne Weiss is Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Education

Back-to-School Tour in the News: Day Two

Visiting Nevada and Utah as part of the Department’s “Education Drives America” back-to-school bus tour, Secretary Arne Duncan, Under Secretary Martha Kanter, Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss, and Assistant Secretary Deb Delisle, along with other Department officials, met with educators and community leaders to hear about the challenges they face and the progress they’re making. Check out some of the media coverage from this leg of the eight-day cross-country tour.

Reno, Nev.

Duncan cited data showing how the U.S. is not as competitive as it used to be.

Elko, Nev.

Great Basin College was the site of a panel discussion on American Indian education with Delisle and Bill Mendoza, director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Martha Kanter visited Glendale Middle School to study progress in Salt Lake City and review the effectiveness of school improvement programs “to find what’s working in schools across the U.S. and apply those strategies systemically.”

Teachers described how a federal School Improvement Grant made to Horizonte Instruction and Training Center is improving their effectiveness in the classroom, and students say they’re benefitting, too.

Towards the Rockies – Bus Tour Day Two

ED's Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Director Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell facilitated a roundtable discussion with Brighton High School students and educators in Salt Lake City as part of our Back-to-School bus tour.

ED's Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Director Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell facilitated a roundtable discussion with Brighton High School students and educators in Salt Lake City as part of our Back-to-School bus tour. Official Department of Education photo by Leslie Williams.

Elko: Community collaboration is key

With only two days complete of ED’s cross-country bus tour, it’s already clear that education really does drive America. During Thursday’s first event at Great Basin College in Elko, Nev., we witnessed how communities can come together.

William Mendoza, director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education led the panel that featured Deb Delisle, assistant secretary for the office of elementary and secondary education, tribal leaders, Nevada’s state chief superintendent and community members.

ED officials listened to panelists as they described the challenges they are facing, but also how school districts and communities are working together to improve education for Native American students. Watch the video below for more from Elko.

Salt Lake City: Achieving success through turning around

Lily Eskelsen, vice president of the NEA

NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen speaks at Glendale Middle School in Salt Lake City. Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

The Education Drives America bus cruised through the Bonneville Salt Flats as we made our way to Glendale Middle School in Salt Lake City. Glendale is a recipient of a School Improvement Grant (SIG) from the Department, and the school is a National Education Association (NEA) Priority School. Under Secretary Martha Kanter, ED Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss and Asst. Secretary Delisle met with NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen and Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker.

After a tour of Glendale’s classrooms, the group sat down with teachers and students to discuss what is working at Glendale. One of the reasons the school has seen such positive changes is the involvement of parents. Click here to read a recent story from the NEA on family involvement at Glendale.

While Glendale may have been the only Utah stop for the bus, over the past two days, ED officials have held 10 events in Utah.

The Education Drives America bus isn’t slowing down. Today it drives across Wyoming with stops in Rock Springs, Rawlins and Cheyenne. Stay connected by receiving email updates on our back-to-school tour across the country.

See what people were saying on social media about the tour during day two, and watch our video summary:


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.

Back-to-School Tour in the News: Day One

The first official day of the “Education Drives America” Back-to-School Bus Tour saw Secretary Duncan and other ED officials meeting with education stakeholders in California, Nevada, and other points of the compass. Prior to the official kick-off, senior staff held several additional events throughout the region. Check out some of the media coverage from the first few days.

Redwood City, Calif.

U.S. Secretary of Education kicks off cross country bus tour at Sequoia High in Redwood City, Calif.

Duncan says teachers are key to making technology and digital education work.

Sacramento, Calif.

In a meeting with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and area education leaders, Duncan Says Complacency Biggest Threat to Schools

Duncan promises to listen and learn during Town Hall in Sacramento.

Reno, Nev.

Arne Duncan discusses college affordability during telephone interview on the way to Reno.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan faces questions about Dream Act during Reno visit.

And in related news, ED officials fanned out across the region as part of the Back to School Bus Tour.

Mountain View, Calif.

Martha Kanter talks about how to improve STEM education nationwide at Google HQ.

Redwood City, Calif.

Karen Cator joins students on the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus at area high school.

Palo Alto, Calif.

Karen Cator and Richard Culatta attend Silicon Valley Digital Learning Meetup at Stanford University.

Elk Grove, Calif.

Greg Darnieder celebrated GEAR UP week at Elk Grove School District.

Las Vegas, Nev.

Brenda Dann-Messier seeks input from local officials during trip to Las Vegas.

Carson City, Nev.

Brenda Dann-Messier visits Western Nevada College in Carson City.

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.

Bus Tour Across America: 5 Ways to Stay Connected

Tomorrow, Secretary Duncan and top ED officials will kick off the Department of Education’s third annual back-to-school bus tour. The Education Drives America tour begins in Silicon Valley on Sept 12 and ends with a rally at the Department of Education headquarters on Sept 21 (Click here for an interactive map of all the stops).

Tour LogoWith more than 100 events planned in 48 communities in 12 states, there will be many ways to stay connected to ED during the tour. Here are the top 5 ways to stay connected:

1. Twitter

Follow hashtag #edtour12 for the latest and keep up-to-date by following @usedgov and @arneduncan.

2. Email Updates

Sign up here to get the latest from the road in your inbox.

3. Storify

Subscribe to our Storify page and read our collection of stories and photos from the road.

4. Watch the Tour Live

Several of the tour’s stops will be streamed live. Click here to find out how you can watch.

5. Blog

We’ll be blogging throughout the tour. Visit ed.gov/bustour or sign up for email updates from our Homeroom Blog.

 

Lighting Candles Across America: The Back to School Bus Tour

Many people ask me what I like most about my job as Under Secretary of Education.  The answer is easy: it has reinforced my optimism about our shared American future and my confidence that we are rising to meet the challenges we face and harnessing opportunities ahead of us. I draw that faith from the thousands of people I have met over the past three and a half years in hundreds of communities throughout our nation who are using every talent and resource they can muster to improve our schools and systems of education at every level.

Under Secretary Kanter inspecting Navy Graduates during last year's bus tour.

Under Secretary Martha Kanter visited Navy Station Great Lakes during last year's back-to-school bus tour. This year she'll be leading the tour through several Western states. Photos courtesy of U.S. Navy Recruit Training Command

This national movement to reform and improve education is well underway and gaining momentum each day, encouraged by President Obama and Secretary Duncan. One of my responsibilities is to shine a spotlight on the innovators and entrepreneurs on the frontline of America “who would rather light a candle than curse the darkness,” as Eleanor Roosevelt famously urged the generation on whose shoulders we stand.

That’s why I am so excited to help kick off the U.S. Department of Education’s Back-to-School Bus Tour this week in Northern California. I’ll travel to Utah, Wyoming and other destinations, and the bus will continue through the U.S., making its final stop in Washington, D.C., on September 21.

We’ll be making stops to listen and to thank students, K-12 teachers, college and university professors, community leaders, business executives and others who have rolled up their sleeves to create and improve the educational opportunities whose quality and diversity will shape our nation’s future.  I’ll be blogging about our visits in the weeks ahead, but because I can’t wait to get started, I have scheduled a few visits to precede the formal kick-off of the tour on September 12.

Today, I’ll begin with a visit to the headquarters of Google, Inc. in Mountain View for an Education-Industry Roundtable with Bay Area community college leaders and business executives organized by Carl Guardino, President of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group that seeks to build deeper relationships between employers and education leaders, working together to provide world-class career and technical training in the high-demand fields that will best prepare students for the workforce.

We’ll be talking frankly and openly about the challenges and opportunities we face with dozens of individuals who are eager to create and fill thousands of new jobs in the months ahead.  The key word at this meeting is “collaboration” – which is central to achieving the education goals set by President Obama and Secretary Duncan, who have repeatedly said that when it comes to education and job-training, we need “all-hands on deck” to make our nation first in the world again in terms of educational achievement.

This afternoon, I’ll visit the College of San Mateo on the San Francisco peninsula to celebrate the launch of the first 10 pilot institutions participating in the Mentor Markerspace program, which creates physical settings where young people have an opportunity to explore their own interests, learn to use tools and materials, and develop creative projects that provide an introduction, and often advanced learning, in science, technology, engineering and math.  Scholars who study the learning sciences call these experiences “contextualized learning,” which is a sophisticated way of saying that students often do better, and learn more, if they have the opportunity to apply new knowledge in project-based activities that are intrinsically interesting and engaging.

By cultivating a love of learning, the maker movement is designed to change student perceptions about school and study and I am eager to learn more about how we can build on the strong foundation already built to bring even more students, and particularly girls, women and other underrepresented groups, into STEM fields.

Tomorrow begins at 8:00 a.m. with an early morning Presidents’ Round Table hosted by Dr. Judy Miner, President of Foothill College and convened by Dr. George Blumenthal, President of the University of California Santa Cruz. Then I’ll head to the Board of Directors meeting of the American Leadership Forum to support their P-20 Education Initiative!

These are just three examples of the learning opportunities and adventures I am anticipating in the coming week.  But I already know I will return from this bus tour with an even deeper appreciation for the capacity and desire of the American people to light candles that illuminate a better path forward for students, colleges, universities, K-12 schools and communities throughout our nation.  And I look forward to the honor of thanking and recognizing those in the lead.

Martha Kanter is the Under Secretary of Education

Bus Sneak Peek and Final Details Released

Education Drives America bus

A sneak peek of the "Education Drives America" bus.

The Education Drives America bus has a full tank of gas is ready for the launch of ED’s back-to-school tour. Secretary Arne Duncan will kick off the tour in Silicon Valley on Wednesday, Sept. 12, and below are the details of the final two days of the tour:

Lexington – Sept. 20

Deputy Secretary of Education Tony Miller will visit Picadome Elementary School in Lexington, Ky., to discuss foreign language education during a classroom visit and a roundtable discussion with 15 local education and community stakeholders. Read about additional events in the Lexington region.

Charleston – Sept. 20

Secretary Duncan will visit Elk Elementary Center in Charleston, W.Va., where he will participate in a roundtable with local and state early learning stakeholders. Read about additional events in W.Va.

McDowell County – Sept. 20

Secretary Duncan will engage in a panel discussion with community members and stakeholders at Mount View High School in McDowell County, W.Va. Participants will discuss how to build public-private partnerships to support educational improvement as the path to a brighter economic future. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, will join the Secretary for the W.Va., events.

Roanoke – Sept. 21

Secretary Duncan will lead a town hall discussion that will explore indicators of college and career readiness at Virginia Western Community College (VWCC) in Roanoke, Va. Also participating in the town hall will be Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education Brenda Dann-Messier, VWCC faculty, students, regional employers, and local community members.

Richmond – Sept. 21

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will visit Henderson Middle School in Richmond, Va., on Friday, Sept. 21, to highlight First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign that focuses on confronting and ending childhood obesity. The event, held in conjunction with Richmond Fit for Life and other health stakeholders, will feature health screenings for middle school and high school students.

Washington – Sept. 21

Secretary Duncan and senior staff at the Department of Education will wrap up the 2012 back-to-school bus tour with a rally on Friday, Sept. 21 on the plaza at the Department’s headquarters building in Washington, D.C.

Visit www.ed.gov/bustour to read details of the entire tour and follow the tour on Twitter with hashtag #edtour12.

Cameron Brenchley is director of digital engagement

Education Drives America – Bus Tour Stops in the Midwest

Leaving the Rockies behind, this year’s Education Drives America back-to-school bus tour will head through the Great Plains and on to the Midwest with stops in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Here are the details released today:

Topeka – Sept. 18

Bus in rural area

ED's back-to-school bus tour--which includes a bus slightly larger than a school bus--will visit both rural and urban areas across the country.

With 1,800 miles of the tour down and 1,100 to go, Secretary Arne Duncan will start this leg of the tour with a visit to the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kan. Duncan and guests will honor the legacy of hope and courage represented by the U.S. Supreme Court case that ended legal segregation in the nation’s public schools.

Emporia – Sept. 18

After Topeka, Duncan will join National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel for a tour of the National Teacher Hall of Fame in Emporia, Kan. Duncan and Van Roekel will also hold a discussion with students, prospective teachers and community members at Emporia State University.

Kansas City – Sept. 18

Secretary Duncan and other senior Department officials will travel to Kansas City, Mo., where they will host a town hall on education and the Hispanic community at the Penn Valley campus of Metropolitan Community College. Read about additional events in the Kansas City region.

Columbia – Sept. 19

Deputy Secretary of Education Tony Miller and Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement Jim Shelton will travel to Columbia, Mo., where they will participate in a video conference and roundtable discussion with local rural educators and participants in the eMINTS program (enhancing Missouri’s Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies). The discussion will be held in the Ellis Library on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus.

St. Louis – Sept. 19

Following the visit to Columbia, Miller will host a town hall with community leaders, representatives of faith communities, school officials and students to discuss college access and affordability, especially for African-American students. The town hall will take place at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis. He will highlight the Department’s efforts to support communities, states and local schools to reduce dropout rates and increase academic success for African-American students. There are many more events in the St. Louis area, read more.

Mt. Vernon – Sept. 19

Deputy Secretary Tony Miller and Sue Liu, special assistant for community colleges in the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, will travel to Continental Tire’s production facility in Mount Vernon, Ill., where they will tour the facility and lead a roundtable discussion with representatives from the company, Rend Lake College, and other local business and education leaders.

Evansville – Sept. 19

Deputy Secretary of Education Tony Miller will visit Glenwood Leadership Academy on Wednesday, Sept. 19 in Evansville, Ind., for a panel discussion on labor management collaboration and community partnership in education. The panel will include Miller, Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, and local school officials. The audience will include teachers, union leaders, parents and community members.

Tomorrow we’ll be releasing the details of the bus’s final stops. For up-to-the-minute updates from the road, subscribe to our Education Drives America e-mail updates by clicking here.

Cameron Brenchley is director of digital engagement