U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to Visit Charleston and Mcdowell County, W.Va., as Part of 2012 Cross-Country Back-to-School Bus Tour Promoting Education

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As part of the U.S. Department of Education’s third annual back-to-school bus tour, on Thursday, Sept. 20, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and other senior Department officials will visit schools in Charleston and McDowell County, W.Va., where they will meet with educators and stakeholders for discussions on early learning, school turnaround efforts, and community-building partnerships.

In Charleston, Secretary Duncan will participate in a roundtable discussion with local and state early learning stakeholders at Elk Elementary Center. He will be joined by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning Jacqueline Jones and Director of the Office of Special Education Programs Melody Musgrove.

In McDowell County on Thursday evening, Secretary Duncan will join Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Gayle Manchin, former West Virginia first lady and current vice president of the West Virginia State Board of Education, at a community meeting at Mount View High School in Welch. They will discuss the important roles that school turnarounds and public-private partnerships can play in economic revitalization and respond to stakeholders’ questions.

Mount View is one of four McDowell County public schools that have received a Title I School Improvement Grant (SIG) from the U.S. Department of Education during the past three years to help turn around schools and improve student achievement. The Department has invested more than $28.5 million in turning around the lowest performing schools in West Virginia, including more than $5 million supporting school improvements in McDowell County at Welch Elementary School, Southside K-8 School, Sandy River Middle School, and Mount View High School.

These bus tour engagements are part of a series of events and community conversations being held coast-to-coast by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his leadership team from Sept. 12-21 to highlight the theme that Education Drives America.

In addition to the Secretary’s events, senior officials will travel across West Virginia on Sept. 20, for a number of other events outlined below:

On Thursday morning, Jacqueline Jones will honor Kenna Elementary School in Charleston for its achievements as a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School and later meet with the Early Childhood Advisory Council of West Virginia to discuss early learning initiatives in West Virginia.

Prior to Secretary Duncan’s arrival at Mount View High School, John White, deputy assistant secretary for rural outreach and Jason Snyder, deputy assistant secretary for policy, will hold a pair of roundtable discussions with McDowell County public school students and teachers. The dialogue will focus on student leadership in school turnarounds and the Obama Administration’s RESPECT (Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching) initiative, which aims to elevate the teaching profession.

Also on Sept. 20, Jason Snyder will visit Sandy River Middle School in Avondale, W.Va., and lead a roundtable discussion on the school’s turnaround efforts. This school also receives support through the Department’s SIG program.

For live, up-to-the-minute updates from the road, follow the Education Drives America tour on Twitter using the hashtag #edtour12, or visit the Department’s bus tour blog. To receive media advisories, press releases, notifications about postings to the blog, and other special updates during the tour, subscribe to the Department’s Education Drives America e-mail updates by clicking here.

The 2012 bus tour marks the third consecutive year Secretary Duncan and his leadership team have promoted education on a back-to-school bus tour. In 2010, the tour included the Delta region in the South and the Northeast. In 2011, the tour covered the Midwest from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin.