DETROIT (WWJ) – The nation’s top schools boss will be in Michigan next week, the first full week of the school year.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and senior Department officials will visit states throughout the Midwest for “Education and the Economy,” the Department’s second annual back to school bus tour from Sept. 7 to Sept. 9.

Speaking with WWJ Newsradio 950, Duncan said he’s looking forward to see what Detroit schools are doing to improve. Duncan said he, along with so many other, are troubled with the absentee rates of Detroit High School kids, which is pegged at an average of 45 days a year.

“We as adults have to meet them more than halfway,” said Duncan. “Make sure that school is interesting, make sure it’s engaging, make sure students that are struggling at home in the community have the support they need to be successful.”

“As you know so well, when students start missing days … that ultimately can mean that they’re dropping out. It’s a very slippery slope there,” he said.

Hear our complete interview with Arne Duncan:

Duncan and senior staff will hold various events across the nation  next week to promote the work of our nation’s educators, parents, administrators and education stakeholders in building a strong cradle-to-college and career continuum that prepares our students to compete in the growing global economy.

On Thursday, Sept. 8, Duncan will start the day in Detroit, joining Gov. Rick Snyder, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan, Mayor Dave Bing, and DPS Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts for an event at Charles H. Wright Academy of Arts and Science to highlight recent steps initiated by the state and city of Detroit to provide better support and turnaround failing schools.

Duncan’s staff will also hold events in Lansing.

Duncan’s visit will come just one week following some controversial news that the man in charge of Michigan’s most-troubled schools across the state could potentially make more than $1.5 million over the next four years.

The first year, Michigan Schools Chief John Covington will earn $225,000, plus a $175,000 signing bonus. His salary will increase to $325,000 the second year, and he is eligible for a bonus.

Duncan said he believes Covington should be held to a high standard.

“Detroit needs a tremendous amount of hard work going forward, needs strong leadership. He’s going to have to make tough decisions,” said Duncan.

“Folks should hold him accountable for results and should really partner with him, and I think John will do a good job …  nobody can do this alone,” he said.

– Read a related story, here –


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