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U.S. Secretary of Education Meets With Several Local School Districts

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was in Sacramento on Wednesday and met with many districts, each facing unique challenges. With each, he echoed a universal solution.

“Our biggest challenge is complacency, and I would love a lot more students and a lot more parents demanding a lot more from all of us,” said Duncan.

School districts across the state are facing major financial challenges, leading to programs cuts, larger class sizes and hard negotiations with teachers unions.

“What we want to do is listen and learn what’s working, what’s not. The thing for me is to figure out how we can be a better partner,” said Duncan.

But the secretary’s visit also came with controversy. Protesters took aim at former Washington D.C. School Chancellor Michelle Rhee who heads a nonprofit group pushing education reform.

“Do teachers need to be evaluated? Absolutely, but not by standardized tests and filling in bubbles,” said attorney Kathleen Carroll.

Also in question is the effectiveness of a meeting with mayors, many of whom have no power over school districts.

Mayor Kevin Johnson argues there’s plenty he can do to improve Sacramento schools.

“We need to align our city services. We need our partnership through citywide initiatives. We can advocate on behalf of policy,” said Johnson.

Duncan spoke publicly for the first time about the teacher’s strike in Chicago, saying he expects both sides to work it out, and be better off for it.

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