US Education Secretary visits local elementary school

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spent time in the Lowcountry talking about educational reform. He visited James Simons Elementary to share his goals to improve education in America.

Students and faculty of James Simons warmly welcomed Secretary Duncan. Community education leaders got the chance to ask him questions on improving education at the county level.

"I think Charleston is absolutely moving in the right direction and has the chance to get dramatically better in the years ahead. My reason for being here is trying to figure out what can we do to be a good partner to help accelerate that rate of change," Duncan said.

Some pressing issues for those who attended the roundtable discussion included providing grant money for college students, improving teacher effectiveness, and even bullying.

"This work is difficult. I don't think we put enough resources to education. You're dealing in communities like this, 97%, 98%, 99% of children live below the poverty line, but these children have amazing potential," Duncan said.

Secretary Duncan also took questions about federal spending. He says education is one place that does not need to be cut.

"Education is an investment, not an expense. We have to educate our way to a better economy. Every single child deserves a world class education, and anyone who thinks we need a less educated America, I think it does our children, and our country a disservice," Duncan said.

This was the first time in more than a decade the US Secretary of Education has come to South Carolina.

Duncan is visiting schools in all 50 states, but he chose to visit Charleston because he's worked with district superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley in the past, and he was especially interested in the redevelopment project going on in the neck area, known as the "Charleston Promise Neighborhood."

From Charleston, Secretary Duncan visited Scott's Branch High School Summerton to talk about innovative education reform and Allen University in Columbia to talk about college affordability.

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