U.S. Secretary of Education calls Tucson schools 'a pioneer', but sees a long road ahead
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
CREATED Sep. 11, 2013
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The eyes of Washington were on the Old Pueblo Wednesday.
More specifically, they were on Tucson's schools.
9OYS caught up with the distinguished guest, who says southern Arizona is a pioneer in education but points out it's far from perfect.
It's the kind of pomp & circumstance normally reserved for game day and graduation.
Wednesday it was on display for a visit straight from Capitol Hill.
"Is it exciting?" asked 9OYS reporter Maggie Vespa.
"Yeah, my heart is beating really hard right now," said one student.
US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spent the morning immersed in Tucson education.
First, he dabbled in arts and crafts at TUSD's Dodge Middle School, painting coins for the non-profit Ben's Bells and talking shop.
"He was asking us if we liked our school," said one student.
"What high schools we want to go to and if we have to test to get accepted," continued another.
Second, there was a tour of technology at Sunnyside High School.
The secretary told Sunnyside students, their use of all digital text serves as an educational example, especially since according to the Obama administration, less than 20% of American teachers say they have the technology they need in the classroom.
"It actually has national implications," Secretary Duncan told the crowd.
But he admits more challenges lay ahead, as Arizona adjusts to new, rigorous 'common core standards' in math and reading.
"For me the tradeoff is very simple, where states hold themselves accountable to a high bar where they're not ducking or trying to reduce standards, we want to give them more flexibility," he said.
Luckily, Tucson leaders say this visit serves as motivation.
"People are seeing the importance of in Washington of this region economically in our relationship to Mexico but also in our relationship to education and as a community that wants to see more money put toward education," said Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.
Wednesday's visit was part of a multi-state bus tour across the Southwest.
On a side note, the secretary says he plans to take his Ben's Bells coins back to Washington to 'spread kindness' on Capitol Hill.