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Secretary Duncan Praises Colleges and Educators for Ensuring Educational Equity

Secretary Arne Duncan spoke about the vital role that colleges and universities play in ensuring educational equity for all students at a breakfast celebrating the 5th anniversary of The Associated Colleges of Illinois’ (ACI) Center for Success in High Need Schools in Chicago today.

“Educational equity is social equity. When children don’t have it, they’re condemned to failure because adults haven’t given them the opportunity to be successful,” he said to an audience of more than 250 higher education and K-12 leaders, educators and donors.

The Secretary praised the “remarkable reach” of ACI and the 23 higher education institutions it represents in improving the quality of education at high-need schools through partnerships between its Center for Success in High Need Colleges, the colleges themselves and more than 106 K-12 schools serving more than 77,000 students throughout Illinois. He credited those initiatives for addressing the tremendous challenges of effectively preparing teachers to educate our neediest children, and in attracting and keeping them at high-poverty and hard-to-staff schools.

The Secretary also praised the work of six individuals who were later honored for their efforts towards closing the achievement gap as the first recipients of the ACI-Arne Duncan Awards for Educational Equity: Linda Darling-Hammond, the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University; Linda Lenz, founder and publisher of Catalyst Chicago, a print and online publication that covers Chicago school reform; Barbara Eason-Watkins, Chief Education Officer of Chicago Public Schools; Ernesto Matias, principal of Wells Community Academy in Chicago; Maria Zavala, 2nd grade bilingual teacher at Parks Cultural Studies Academy in Joliet, Illinois; and Eliseo Martinez, a North Central College senior majoring in music education.

Secretary Duncan also noted that the “unprecedented resources” for education provided by President Obama and Congress through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have generated a historic opportunity to transform from the nation’s educational landscape from one with “with pockets of excellence” to one with “systems of excellence.”

“We need to invest this money wisely, to educate our way to a better economy,” he said.

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