U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will join in commemorating the contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his fellow civil rights activists through the years, and encourage members of the National Action Network to continue supporting educational opportunity and quality as part of their efforts to achieve the dream of equality and social justice that King envisioned. Duncan will highlight new and promising signs of progress for all the nation's students, including increased high school graduation rates and a narrowing graduation gap between minorities and white students. He will also discuss the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—also known as the No Child Left Behind Act—as an essential civil rights law, and the need to reauthorize it with a new law that provides opportunities for all students; makes real investments in high-poverty schools and districts, and addresses funding inequities for schools that serve high proportions of low-income students; reduces unnecessary testing; provides educators with the resources they need to make real, enriched learning possible; and ensures high expectations for all students.
The National Action Network’s convention began on Wednesday, April 8, and will continue through Saturday, April 11. A not-for-profit civil rights organization founded by civil rights activist the Reverend Al Sharpton, the National Action Network addresses the social and economic injustice experienced by African Americans in the United States. Reverend Sharpton has called education reform the civil rights issue of the 21st century.