U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan To Bring 5th Annual Back-To-School Bus Tour To Alabama And Tennessee

Friday, September 5, 2014

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will bring his fifth annual back-to-school bus tour to Alabama and Tennessee on Tuesday, where he will visit Birmingham, Huntsville and Chattanooga.  Mr. Duncan will discuss President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative in Birmingham and then highlight the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in Huntsville. In Chattanooga he will spotlight the importance of high-quality early learning opportunities in young children’s educational development. 

This year’s “Partners in Progress” trip will also include stops in Georgia, highlighting the three states' commitment to encourage reform and innovation in education and help all students achieve success. Traveling through places that represent the cradle of America’s civil rights effort, the tour places a focus on important work that is closing gaps of opportunity many young Americans face.

At 9:10 a.m. CT, Mr. Duncan will participate with U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, Birmingham Mayor William Bell, young men and women from local high schools and community members in a My Brother’s Keeper Roundtable Discussion at John Herbert Phillips Academy in Birmingham.  Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education will moderate the discussion and a press availability will follow at 10:20 a.m. CT.

Next, Mr. Duncan will visit the NASA Davidson Rocket Center in Huntsville, at 12:50 p.m. CT, for a Space Camp tour and a STEM Education Town Hall at 1:20 p.m. CT.  The town hall panelists will include NASA Astronaut and Educator Richard “Ricky” Arnold and students. A press availability will follow at 2:20 p.m. CT.

Then Mr. Duncan will head to Chattanooga, for a 5:40 p.m. event at the Chambliss Center for Children, where he will visit the classroom of pre-kindergarten teacher Keisha Fifer and read a book to about a dozen three-year-olds. 

Afterward, he will host an “Early Learning Town Hall” in the center’s gymnasium, exchanging ideas with about 100 parents, teachers and stakeholders on what works in effective early learning programs. Among those in attendance will be Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke; Phil Acord, president and CEO of the Chambliss Center; Melanie Morris, a teacher in the Hamilton County Schools and others.  Following the town hall, Mr. Duncan will hold a press availability at 7 p.m. ET.

These events will conclude the second day of the 2014 bus tour, which begins Monday in Atlanta and moves through Alabama and on to Tennessee on Wednesday.  He will conclude the tour in Tennessee with activities in Nashville and Memphis.

As part of the "Partners in Progress" tour, senior department officials will hold additional events highlighting the Obama administration's work to increase access and opportunity for students.

Preceding Secretary Duncan’s visit on Monday, at 3:30 p.m. CT, David Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans will visit Memphis, Tennessee for a rally and panel discussion at Shelby County Schools Frances E. Coe Auditorium.  Joining Johns will be Teach For America; Memphis Urban League; NAACP; 100 Black Men of Memphis; Memphis Talent Dividend; Stand for Children – Memphis; and Shelby County Schools. 

The rally will include remarks from David Johns, Shelby County Board of Education Chairman Kevin Woods, and other local leaders, as well as student performances. The panel discussion will focus on the role of community engagement in education, moderated by Cardell Orrin, Stand for Children – Memphis city director.

Also on Monday, Libby Doggett, deputy assistant secretary of education for policy and early learning, will join a roundtable discussion on pre-kindergarten education at 5 p.m. ET at the Normal Park Museum Magnet School - Lower School Campus in Chattanooga.  At 9:30 a.m. ET Tuesday, she will visit the Siskin Children's Institute, followed by an 11 a.m. tour of the Creative Discovery Museum, both in Chattanooga.  At 2 p.m., she will participate in an early learning roundtable at the Chambliss Center.

Meanwhile, Johan E. Uvin, acting assistant secretary in the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, will visit the Volkswagen Academy at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Ooltewah.  At 12:30 p.m. ET, he will tour the Chattanooga State Technical Community College’s Wacker Institute and at 9 a.m. Wednesday, he will visit Walker Valley High School in Cleveland, Tennessee.

In addition, Jill Levine, principal at Normal Park Museum Magnet School in Chattanooga and a U.S. Department of Education principal ambassador fellow, will participate in a teacher leadership roundtable at 2 p.m. ET Tuesday at the Public Education Foundation in Chattanooga.

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