U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to Wrap Up Fifth Annual Back-to-School Bus Tour with Stops in Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee

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U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will wrap up his fifth annual back-to-school bus tour on Wednesday, Sept. 10, with events in Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee. Duncan will visit William Henry Oliver Middle School in Nashville, where he will hold a town hall to discuss the importance of parental involvement in education and the impact of some of the largest changes in education that America’s schools have seen in decades. The Memphis events will begin with a pep rally at Cornerstone Preparatory School, followed by a town hall with local leaders, parents, teachers and students.

This year’s “Partners in Progress” bus tour also has included stops in Alabama and Georgia, highlighting the three states’ commitment to encourage reform and innovation in education and to 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 9:15 a.m. CT, Duncan will participate in a town hall at William Henry Oliver Middle School. The town hall discussion will highlight Tennessee’s efforts to boost student learning and support teachers with the help of state and local partners. Panelists include National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) President Otha Thornton; Jesse Register, director of schools for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools; parents and teachers. Jill Levine, principal at Normal Park Museum Magnet School in Chattanooga and a U.S. Department of Education Principal Ambassador Fellow, will moderate the discussion. A question-and-answer session will follow. There will be a press availability at 10:25 a.m. CT.

Later, at 2:30 p.m. CT, Duncan will visit Cornerstone Preparatory School in Memphis and participate in a pep rally with students to celebrate their hard work and academic gains. Since receiving a Race to the Top grant four years ago, Tennessee has seen significant education improvements, and students have made tremendous academic strides. Following the pep rally, Duncan will hold a town hall with Shelby County Schools and Achievement School District officials, parents, teachers and students about their experiences in the effort to transform struggling schools, close achievement gaps and better support teachers. Reggie Davis, executive director of Street Ministries, will moderate the town hall, which will conclude with a question-and-answer session. A press availability will follow at 3:50 p.m. CT.

These events will conclude the 2014 bus tour, which began today in Georgia and will move through Alabama and on to Tennessee.

As part of the “Partners in Progress” tour, senior Department officials will hold additional events on Wednesday, Sept. 10, highlighting the Obama administration’s work to increase access and opportunity for students. Some of those events include:

At 8:30 a.m. CT, in Memphis, Deb Delisle, assistant secretary of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, will visit Ford Road Elementary School. The school is the recipient of a School Improvement Grant from the Department. The visit will highlight the hard work of students and the important role that school leadership plays in turning around low-performing schools. The state named Ford Road as a Reward School for progress in School Year 2012-13 for significantly increasing its reading and math proficiencies.

At 9 a.m. ET, in Cleveland, Tennessee, Johan Uvin, acting assistant secretary in the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, will visit Walker Valley High School, located in the Bradley County School District. In April 2014, Bradley County Schools received a $4.4 million Youth CareerConnect Grant Award—the only district in Tennessee to receive the grant and one of three in the South. The grants require a local education agency and institution of higher education to partner with their local workforce investment system and an employer to improve and expand programs that enable high school students to gain an industry-relevant education while earning college credit.

At 10:30 a.m. ET, in Atlanta, David Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, will hold a town hall/community discussion on college access and completion, especially for African American and Hispanic students, at George Washington Carver High School. The discussion also will focus on ways to attract and support minorities in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and workforce development and preparedness.

At 1:30 p.m. CT, in Nashville, Michael Yudin, acting assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, will hold a parent/family engagement roundtable with parents, teachers, administrators, state and local educators, and others on the importance of family engagement. The event will take place at STEP (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents), a Parent Training and Information Center funded by the Department. These centers, among other things, provide training and information to parents of children with disabilities and assist them in understanding their rights and responsibilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

At 4 p.m. CT, in Nashville, Richard Culatta, director of the Office of Educational Technology, will cohost a convening with the Metro Nashville Public Schools and area district leaders, teachers, parents, business leaders and students to kick off a national conversation around technology in schools. He also will discuss the Future Ready initiative, which seeks to support technology integration and digital learning in classrooms across the country.

At 5 p.m. ET, in Lilburn, Georgia, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics Executive Director Alejandra Ceja and Deputy Director Marco Davis will host a Youth Town Hall at Berkmar High School. It will focus on mentoring, college access and completion, and financial aid. It will bring together hundreds of high school students, national and local leaders, parents, educators, community partners and others.