Duncan talks Education at MCAS Yuma

2013-09-12 23:32:54

The nation’s top education leader, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, also paid a visit to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma on Thursday to talk with military leaders, service members, and military parents about the education of military-connected children and their families.

Speaking from the chapel at the air station, Duncan thanked the Marines who were in attendance for their service and said whenever he talks to service members, they never ask for anything themselves; they always ask for him to help their children get their education.

”I have so much respect and admiration for what military families do for our country,” Duncan said. “And whatever we can do to give their children a world class education, that is the least we can do.”

Joined on a panel by Yuma Proving Ground Commander Col. Reed Young, Crane School District Supervisor Robert Klee, Yuma Union High School District Superintendent Toni Badone, Yuma County Schools Superintendent Tom Tyree and Yuma School District 1 Superintendent Don Stiffler, Duncan spent the first hour answering pre-written question before turning to the audience.

Col. Robert Kuckuk, commander of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, served as moderator for the event and asked questions ranging from the future of the Federal Impact Aid Program, which pays Yuma school districts about a quarter of a million dollars a year, to the importance of Common Core State Standards.

“I’m just absolutely convinced education is an investment, not an expense,” Duncan said. “This is the best investment we can make in our children, our families and our country.”

Duncan said children must have a chance to compete in a globally competitive environment and the only way to do that is to continue to invest in every level of a child’s education.

Arizona, however, is in a situation where it is already in the lower tier of educational spending per child, Duncan said, and the state has several military communities and Native American Reservations, all of which rely significantly on federal impact aid. So to lose any federal money through sequestration would be taking away already scarce resources.

Duncan said regardless of politics and ideology he hopes legislators in Washington will see the impact of sequestration, not just on military budget, but on education as well, and come together and do the right thing for the country and the children.

Duncan also said he believed that raising standards through common core standards is really important for the country and benefits military families, who have to move frequently, because it addresses the inconsistency of educational standards across states.

Crane School District Supervisor Robert Klee said students in Yuma are already experiencing a change in the classroom in the way they are being instructed, as common core standards are being fully implemented throughout the area’s various school districts.

”I honestly believe common core standards is one of the most significant changes that we are going go make in our educational system,” Klee said.

When asked specifically how it benefits military families, Klee explained that common core provides their children with a high-quality education that clearly communicates what is expected of students at each grade level.

Duncan also made it clear that he believes the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which counters many of the common education challenges military families face, is just common sense. “The Compact,” as it is known, establishes standards in transferring between schools and from state to state.

“Having met Yuma’s educational leaders, I know the children in this community are extraordinarily well-served in their education,” Duncan said.