United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visits Hamburg School District

The United States Secretary of Education visited the Hamburg School District. Arne Duncan was part of a bus tour that included two stops in Arkansas.

Post by SEN Team | september 09th, 2010
The Courage in the Classroom bus tour began in Little Rock. The tour began with a discussion with teachers from Central High School. Himself and the rest of the party then traveled to Hamburg, with stops in Monticello to pick up Tonya Higginbotham, Kathy Barnett, Carol Moyers, Toni Elliot, Special Programs Coordinator Marilyn Chambers and Americorps workers Emily Blake and Blake Higginbotham. The group had lunch on the bus with Arne Duncan and discussed the Hamburg School District's programs. There was particular emphasis on the pre-k programs.

Once in Hamburg, the tour began of the Hamburg pre-k classrooms. The secretary observed the children, spoke with teachers, aids, grandparents and Americorp workers. Moving on from the pre-k classrooms, the group arrived at the high school for observations as well. Part of the federal stimulus fund went to work being done at the Hamburg high school. There were also meetings with teachers and students.

One of 300 programs that serves over 25,000 children is the Arkansas Better Chance program. The program supports children statewide and the early education program is one of 10 in the nation. The federal No Child Left Behind Act is due to be re-approved and Arkansas programs can be duplicated around the country by adding early learning to the No Child Left Behind Act. Funding could then be dedicated to 3 and 4 year old children, making sure that federal, state, and local resources include investments and ensure that dollars are targeted at early learning programs.

The Arkansas Better Chance programs receive a combination of local and state funding that is coordinated by private and public agencies. Arkansas's program meets 9 out of 10 of the quality standard benchmarks. They also are 10th in the nation for funding per child. The pre-k program covers 90 percent of 4 year olds in the area. Schools in the area are now meeting math and reading requirements and high schools have above average scores in literacy and math.

Leaving Hamburg, the group traveled to Monroe, LA for a visit to the J. S. Clark Elementary School and see the vegetable garden grown by the students. Next was Tallulah, LA for a basketball game with coaches, students and teachers.

Duncan would also be visiting Jackson State University in Mississippi and Hattiesburg High School, before reaching Mobile, Alabama. Once the group leaves the south, the trip will continue on to schools in Springfield, MA, Keene, NH, Latham, New York, Manchester, NH, Portsmouth, NH and Portland, Maine.

The classroom visits were part of the achievement of closing the gap with early education, safety, school nutrition and the recruitment of teachers.

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