Arne Duncan, the Obama administration’s top education official, got a warm welcome before his speech from Indiana’s top education official — state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett.
In his introduction to Duncan’s speech, Bennett praised the Education Secretary for working across party lines. Afterward, Duncan returned the compliment, praising Indiana’s efforts to overhaul education.
“The state is taking on low-performing schools in ways that haven’t happened before,” Duncan said. “As I said in here today, it’s tough work, it’s controversial, but it’s desperately needed. In far too many communities we’ve allowed these schools to languish in communities for decades and not just this community, but this state and the country are gonna learn together how to turn around schools. But I’m so thrilled that people now have the courage to take on that tough work.”
Duncan noted in his speech that Northwest Indiana plays home to some of the state’s most successful schools, as well as some of the most troubled. While praising efforts to turn some of these schools around, Duncan emphasized education leaders must do more to make Indiana’s schools more competitive globally, and Indiana’s students better prepared for careers or college.
After stops in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan this week, Duncan’s education tour concludes in Illinois and Wisconsin.