U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan traveled to Detroit today to meet with students, community leaders and elected officials to hear their ideas for education reform and how the federal government can help advance reforms in their community and throughout the state. The trip was the Secretary's second stop on his "Listening and Learning: A Conversation About Education Reform" tour.
During the first of his meetings, Duncan met with Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson, several community leaders and Detroit elected officials to discuss challenges facing Detroit public schools and possible solutions to the problems, including mayoral control and strategies for turning around underperforming schools.
Later, Duncan held a student forum with seniors at Cody High School to hear their concerns. Gov. Granholm, Mayor Dave Bing, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan and Michigan Federation of Teachers President David Hecker were among the invited guests at the forum.
Duncan concluded his Detroit visit with keynote remarks at the United Way Leaders Conference. Addressing nearly 1,500 CEOs of United Way organizations across the country, Duncan praised the organization for its work with youth--from after school and summer programs to mentoring initiatives and its "Success by 6" early childhood programs.
"To ensure that all children get the education they need and deserve, we must demand fundamental change across the education system and push a strong reform agenda," Duncan said. He said, however, that states couldn't be passive. They must commit to four reforms:
- Implementing college and career-ready standards and assessments;
- Creating comprehensive data systems that track students throughout their education career and track teachers back to schools of education so we can better understand which programs are producing teachers that make a difference;
- Recruiting, preparing and rewarding outstanding teachers--paying more to teachers who work in tough schools; and
- Turning around chronically underperforming schools.
Duncan also talked about aggressively driving reform through changes to the Title I program, extending the school day, better after-school programs and partnerships with the community.
"This organization's collaborative efforts are commendable," Duncan said, referring to United Way's various mentoring programs. "You are connecting some of our most at-risk kids with caring, productive adults. And having just one adult advocating for them--caring if they show up for school, caring if they pass that class and caring about their future--can make all the difference in a child's life."
The "Listening and Learning" tour began last week in West Virginia and will continue tomorrow in Vermont. Duncan intends to visit at least 15 states in the coming months.
For more information, see the U.S. Department of Education's Web site, www.ed.gov.