U.S. Secretary of Education to Visit Yuma Thursday

2013-09-11 18:14:59

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will visit Yuma on Thursday as part of his ”Strong Start, Bright Future” back-to-school bus tour.

With stops in New Mexico, Texas, California and Arizona, the five-day tour’s layover in Yuma will include visits to the Yuma Community Food Bank and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, where he will focus on the importance of students receiving quality educational opportunities.

After visiting the Phoenix area earlier in the day, Duncan and senior U.S. Department of Education officials will drive to Yuma on the fourth day of the tour. They plan to first visit with staff and volunteers at YCFB to thank them for their work in strengthening the community. He will also meet with local students who volunteer to fill backpacks with food that are delivered on weekends to students in need.

“I always say there’s a series of things that we have to do that are fundamental, that are foundational, if we’re serious about helping kids be successful academically,” Duncan said during a phone interview with the Yuma Sun. “If children’s stomachs are growling, it’s hard to concentrate in class. If they can’t see the blackboard, they’re not going to be successful. If they’re being bullied or if they’re living in fear, it’s hard to think about AP calculus and physics.”

He pointed to Yuma’s “very high” unemployment rate.

“… There’s tremendous food insecurity there and making sure our children are well fed and making sure they’re not worried about where their next meal is coming from, again, I think is just absolutely integral for them to being successful academically.”

Duncan also shared that he’s looking forward to visiting with an old friend from back home, YCFB President and CEO Mike Ivers.

“Mike Ivers did tremendous work for decades in some of Chicago’s toughest, poorest communities on the West Side. He’s devoted his life to helping those that aren’t born of all the advantages, and so he was just a tremendous community leader that, again, I’ve always had a huge amount of respect for,” Duncan said. “He recently moved out here and this is a great chance to … see what he’s doing to try and support children and families in Yuma that are having a tough time. He’s a mission-driven guy. That’s been his life’s work.”

Immediately following the visit to YCFB, the bus tour will head to MCAS Yuma where Duncan will talk with military leaders, service members, military parents and educators during a town hall about the nation’s commitment to support military-connected children and their families.

“Obviously every child deserves a great, great education, but we owe so much just to the families who are serving us and protecting us and traveling the globe and putting their selves in harm’s way to keep us safe. The least we can do is give their children a world-class education,” he said.

“We’ll be there to talk about the impact of sequester, which is a disaster, we’ll be there to talk about the Common Core Standards that I think that are hugely beneficial to the children of military families and just to hear what’s working and what’s not and what we can do to be a good partner.”

The U.S. Department of Education has previously adopted recommendations from the “Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment” initiative, such as giving military families priority for discretionary grants.

Visit the U.S. Department of Education’s news page at and at for more information on Secretary Duncan’s tour. People can also follow the tour on Twitter using the hashtag #edtour13.

Local tour events are by invitation only. Ivers said that those looking to attend the YCFB event should contact him for more information at 343-1243.