March 1st, 2011
05:45 PM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) – While the situation in Libya and the Middle East will likely keep the White House busy for the next few weeks, the Obama administration is staying focused on domestic issues including improving education.
President Obama will kick off his education initiative Friday with a trip to Florida where he will visit Miami Central Senior High School to give remarks to highlight overcoming education challenges.
In a conference call with reporters, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the school was chosen because it’s a good example of how a school has taken on the challenges of reform and become a success story.
Central High received $790,000 in grants from the federal government and has turned around the school by firing the principal and half the faculty and hiring a more innovative principal. Now the school boasts more after-school programs, a student entrepreneurship program, and more community engagement. The rate of suspensions has dropped by 60%, a very encouraging sign to Duncan.
But he knows that solutions aren’t always easy. “We’re in this for the long haul. This is not going to be an overnight success. I’m sure that we’ll have some failures along the way,” said Duncan. “Everybody has to step up to the plate. Everybody has to challenge the status quo.”
The president will continue the push forward on education with a trip next Tuesday to Boston to see a similar school. The vice president and members of the cabinet will be fanning out across the country to continue discussions on the importance of reforming schools.
These visits are part of the White House’s overall plan laid out in his State of the Union address to “out-innovate and out-educate” the global competition and to get back to leading the world in college graduates after dropping to ninth place.
In addition to these speeches, Obama plans on hosting a conference on bullying next week at the White House. Students, teachers, and family members will meet with the president to talk about how bullying has affected their lives and find ways to combat aggressive behaviors.