Secretary Duncan to Visit Schools in Arizona As Part of "Strong Start, Bright Future" Back-to-School Bus Tour

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U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will visit Phoenix, Scottsdale and Yuma on Thursday, Sept. 12 to discuss the importance of high-quality preschool, strengthening tribal education, providing community service and supporting military-connected children on the fourth day of his "Strong Start, Bright Future," back-to-school bus tour.

At 9 a.m. in Phoenix, Duncan will tour the Bret Tarver Education Complex, where he will visit classrooms and hold a town hall on the critical importance of quality early learning programs. He will stress that children who have rich early learning experiences are better prepared to thrive in school. Under the President's Preschool for All proposal, Arizona is to receive about $78.2 million in the first year. Combined with an estimated state match of $7.8 million, about 9,000 children would be served. Bret Tarver is public preschool serving more than 200 predominately Hispanic students.

Next, Duncan and William Mendoza, executive director of the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, and other senior Department officials will travel to Scottsdale where they will consult with tribal leaders at 11:45 a.m. on the federal role in strengthening tribal education. During the discussion, the Secretary will reiterate his position that we must continue to work on improving tribal education at all points along the education pipeline.

From Scottsdale, the Secretary will travel to Yuma, where he will visit a food bank at 4 p.m. and thank the volunteers and commend their work to strengthen their communities.

At 5 p.m., for the day's final event, the Secretary will visit the Yuma Marine Corps Air Station to talk to military leaders, service members, and military parents about the nation's commitment to supporting military connected students and their families. The Department has adopted recommendations from the "Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America's Commitment" initiative, such as giving military families priority for discretionary grants.

Press availabilities will be held after each public event.

"The strength of America's economy is inextricably linked to the strength of America's education system," said Secretary Duncan. "This year's bus tour will be an opportunity to discuss throughout the southwest how investments in education are critical to our country's future and how state and local reforms are delivering encouraging results. Our theme of 'Strong Start, Bright Future' also speaks to the importance of starting the school year off right and providing all our children with high-quality preschool to prepare them ultimately for success in college and careers."

Also in Arizona on Thursday, Department officials will travel the state in support of the "Strong Start, Bright Start" back-to school bus tour:

In Tempe, Libby Doggett, deputy assistant secretary for early learning, will host an early learning and teacher prep roundtable at Maricopa Community College to highlight the strategies needed to build an effective early childhood workforce. The event will be held at the College Conference Center at West 14th Street. Linda Smith, deputy assistant secretary and inter-departmental liaison for early childhood development for the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will join Doggett.

In Phoenix, Nadya Dabby, acting assistant deputy secretary for the Office of Innovation and Improvement, will visit the Phoenix Public Library at 1221 North Central Ave., to host a 8 a.m. roundtable discussion about Arizona charter schools, including learning about the work of ED grantee Arizona Charter School Association.

In Glendale, Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, will hold a roundtable discussion at 2 p.m. at Glendale Community College, located at 6000 W. Olive Ave., about the transition from community college to a university and the partnership between the school's nursing program and Northern Arizona University to accelerate time to degree completion, an idea that the President has supported in his college affordability agenda. At 5:30 p.m., Dann-Messier will tour Rio Salado Community College, located at 1715 W. Northern Ave., in Phoenix, where she will participate in a roundtable discussion about pathways for supporting college completion for low-skilled adults.

The Secretary's tour will begin on Monday, Sept. 9, in Santa Fe, N.M., followed by stops in Albuquerque and Socorro. On Tuesday, Sept. 10, Secretary Duncan will hold events in El Paso, Texas and Columbus, N.M. Then, on Wednesday, Sept. 11, the Secretary will hold events in Tucson and Tempe, Ariz. On Thursday, Sept. 12, Secretary Duncan will travel to Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Yuma, Ariz., for events. On Friday, Sept. 13, Secretary Duncan will conclude the tour in Chula Vista, Calif., located outside of San Diego.

For live, up-to-the-minute updates from the road, follow the "Strong Start, Bright Future" tour on Twitter using the hashtag #edtour13, or see the department's bus tour page. To receive media advisories, press releases, notifications about postings to the blog, and other special updates during the tour, subscribe to the department's Strong Start, Bright Future e-mail updates.