U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. will visit Connecticut on Monday, Dec. 19, to discuss the future of education, applaud the state for two of its programs that address disengaged youth, and highlight the importance of equity and opportunity. The visits to New Haven and New Britain will conclude the Department’s “Opportunity Across America Tour” that began in January 2016.
During a visit to Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven, King, joined by U.S. Sen. Richard “Dick” Blumenthal, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell, and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, will applaud the city’s Youth Stat program, which uses data about truancy, school transfers and involvement with the juvenile justice system to identify at-risk youth and to connect them with resources to help them stay in school. King also will commend the state for its School-Based Diversion Initiative, which was expanded as part of the governor’s Second Chance Society Initiative to reduce juvenile justice involvement among those youth with mental health needs through training and community-based partnerships.
Later, King, joined by U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, will give closing remarks for the Connecticut State Educator Equity Lab in New Britain. He will discuss the importance of implementing state equity plans to ensure that low-income and minority children are not served at disproportionate rates by ineffective, out-of-field or inexperienced teachers. Research has shown that when it comes to the distribution of the best teachers, poor and minority students do not get their fair share.
In a speech last week at the Center for American Progress, King reiterated his belief in education as a pillar for democracy and economic security, and laid out a vision for the future of educational opportunity across America. During his visit to Connecticut, King will continue to highlight the opportunities provided by the Every Student Succeeds Act and spotlight the educational progress made over the last eight years under the Obama Administration.
- High school graduation rates are at an all-time high (83 percent), and the dropout rate has decreased—with all groups making progress, and students of color closing gaps;
- The nation has a new education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, which offers the chance to reclaim the promise of an excellent, well-rounded education for every student;
- More states have implemented their own unique plans for education reform and school turnarounds;
- More individuals now have access to programs to offset the rising costs of higher education, including expanded Pell Grants and programs like income-driven repayment plans;
- Students and families have greater access to the information they need to make the best choices for postsecondary education—from easier and now earlier financial aid information through the FAFSA to the next generation of college transparency with tools such as College Scorecard;
- Hundreds of thousands more children have access to high-quality early education than previously; and
- The Department’s Office for Civil Rights has resolved in excess of 66,000 cases—more than any other administration.
During Opportunity Across America tour stops this week, King discussed the good work being done in schools and communities across the country, and encouraged states to continue building on the progress our nation has made to deliver on the promise of a world-class education for every child.
As part of the Opportunity Across America Tour, King has crisscrossed the country this year promoting equity and excellence at every level of education to ensure that all children have the opportunity to succeed; supporting and lifting up the teaching profession; and continuing the Department’s focus on returning America to the top of the rankings in college completion by ensuring more students earn an affordable degree with real value. He has visited El Paso and Houston, Texas; Washington, D.C.; Phoenix, Arizona; Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico; Orlando, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; Charlottesville, Virginia; Bristol, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Memphis, Tennessee; Harvest, Alabama; Little Rock, Arkansas; Indianola, Mississippi; and Monroe, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana.