Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and civil rights leader Al Sharpton will join Education Secretary Arne Duncan on a tour of four cities to highlight the Obama administration's efforts to reform public education, spur innovation and discuss challenges facing America's school systems.
The tour, an outgrowth of their meeting with President Obama last spring, will include school visits, stakeholder meetings and media briefings. The goal of the tour is to stimulate discussion and community engagement around issues of education reform.
Secretary Duncan described Gingrich and Sharpton as, "Two of the most candid people I have ever known. They are willing to challenge conventional thinking and I can absolutely promise some provocative conversations on education reform."
The tour will take them to Philadelphia on Sept. 29, New Orleans on Nov. 3, and Baltimore on Nov. 13. Duncan said that the cities were chosen both for logistical reasons and for what they can show about school reform. More stops, including a rural site, will be added as the tour progresses.
"55-years after the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision we still find that education is unequal in our nation. I agree with President Obama that we must use new methods to close the achievement gap so we do not continue to fail our children," said Sharpton.
"President Obama has shown real courage on the issue of charter schools. I strongly believe that when you can find common ground, we should be able to put other differences aside to achieve a common goal," said Gingrich.
Al Sharpton is a Baptist minister, civil rights leader and a radio talk show host who advocates for economic and educational equity through two organizations he founded, the National Action Network and the Education Equality Project. Newt Gingrich is a former speaker of the House of Representatives, author, history professor, political analyst and the founder of American Solutions, a tri-partisan grassroots action organization.