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Sep 11, 2013 6:47 PM by Nathan O'Neal

U.S. secretaries visit Tucson, talk education and transportation

TUCSON - Two U.S. Secretaries made an impression in Tucson Wednesday morning.

TUSD was the first stop for Education Secretary Arne Duncan who is touring the region with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

While TUSD is the largest district in Southern Arizona, it is no different in respect to the variety of challenges it faces like its counterparts throughout the country.

Duncan and Foxx made their way to Dodge Middle School for an opportunity to get valuable feedback from students and teachers.

"The only way we learn is to get outside of Washington...you've got to listen ...learn... about what's working, what's not... and kids tell you the truth...we want to go back and figure out how we can be great partners with the hard working principals and teachers here in Tucson," Duncan said.

While speaking from a safety standpoint, Foxx met with TUSD bus drivers to get a sense of its daily operations -- which serves more than 11,000 students each and every day.

"School buses are some of the safest ways to get kids to school, in fact, In our studies, even safer than when parents drive their kids to school," Foxx said.

But with a 25 percent drop-out rate nationwide, that means millions of students leaving schools for the streets and Duncan insists that accountability in student performance is critical.

"Many states like Arizona showing real courage and raising standards -- for far too long, we've dummied down standards, lied to kids and families to make politicians look good," Duncan said, adding that now is the time to invest in education at all levels.

"So I would argue high-level early childhood education is the best investment we can make ... we have to invest in K-12 reform and we have to make sure college is accessible and affordable," he said.

Duncan and Foxx also made stops at Sunnyside High School to talk technology before heading to Arizona State University in Tempe to discuss college affordability.

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