May 14, 2009
Contact: Sandra Abrevaya|
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan traveled to Vermont today to deliver the commencement address at St. Michael's College in Burlington and then continued his "Listening and Learning: A Conversation About Education Reform" tour at two schools in Burlington and Westford.
Duncan was welcomed at St. Michael's by Gov. Jim Douglas, St. Michael's President John Neuhauser, its Board of Trustees, and many faculty members.
In his address, Duncan called education the civil rights issue of our time and said, "All of the anti-poverty programs in the world will never do as much as an education to make people successful." He commended St Michael's graduating class for its commitment to service and challenged them to choose the classroom to continue their service, noting that more than a million teachers from the baby-boom generation are expected to retire in the next five years.
"I believe that access to a high-quality education is the difference between a life lived on the margins and a life lived in fulfillment of the American dream," Duncan said.
After the commencement address, Duncan visited Barnes Elementary School in Burlington. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss and Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca joined Duncan on a tour of the school led by Principal Paula Bowen. Duncan ate lunch with students, teachers and parents, learned about Barnes' unique partnership with local farmersmany of whom are parents of children at the schoolto provide healthy lunches made with locally grown ingredients, and held a discussion on the topic of quality nutrition and quality learning.
Duncan's final stop was Westford Elementary School, where he was greeted by principal David Wells and other school leaders. He met with teachers to hear their ideas about education reform and how the federal government can help provide incentives for good teachers to work in schools where they're most needed.
For more information, see the U.S. Department of Education's Web site, www.ed.gov.
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