Yesterday Secretary Duncan travelled to Durham, North Carolina, where he spoke at North Carolina Central University’s Setting the Agenda for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Symposium and visited Southern High School for a panel discussion on saving teachers jobs.
In his remarks, Secretary Duncan praised North Carolina’s HBCUs for their successful efforts to elevate access to higher education and raise academic standards, noting their study abroad programs, self-evaluative research, and smooth transition to Direct Lending. He also emphasized the need for stronger teacher preparation and a greater commitment to raising college completion rates, stressing the lack of black male teachers and the high dropout rate among minority students.
Dr. John Wilson, Jr., Executive Director for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, joined Secretary Duncan at the meeting with hundreds of representatives of HBCUs and affiliates at the Symposium.
Secretary Duncan then headed to Southern High School, where he talked with students, congratulating them on their upcoming graduation and encouraging them to pursue their personal passion. He participated in a panel discussion with Governor Bev Perdue, Congressman Bob Etheridge, and Durham County School Board Chairwoman Minnie Forte-Brown about the threat of education job losses and the negative impact on academic progress. Duncan called on Congress to act quickly on a $23 billion bill to prevent education job cuts, drawing attention to the potential 10,000 education jobs the bill could support in North Carolina.
“Without these funds, teachers could lose jobs, schools may have to cancel summer programs, end vital extracurricular courses like gym, art, drama and decrease the time our kids spend in school,” said Secretary Duncan. “We can’t afford to take a step back. This has to happen now.”
During the panel, Duncan also commended North Carolina for their efforts to raise their academic standards. Local morning headlines announced the State Board of Education’s Wednesday meeting where members planned to adopt common standards for math and English for public school children. The state’s adoption is part of an almost year-long initiative lead by the National Governors Association where 48 states came together to pursue high common education standards.
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