Two U.S. Secretaries pay visit to the Tri-States - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Two U.S. Secretaries pay visit to the Tri-States

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speak to a crowd at UW Platteville Wednesday U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speak to a crowd at UW Platteville Wednesday

Two members of President Obama's Cabinet visited the Tri-State area Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack a little after noon at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

Nearly 300 people packed into the Agriculture Education Pavilion, a building at UW Platteville's Pioneer Farm. It was an appropriate setting for the topic at hand.

"For those who are interested and involved in agriculture, be proud," Sec. Vilsack told the crowd.

On Wednesday, Vilsack and Duncan signed a formal agreement between their departments, promising to spend effort and resources on promoting agricultural education throughout the nation.

"We will share best practices, we will engage in webinars and conferences, we will do everything we can using the resources and the opportunities that we have collectively to encourage school districts across the country to embrace agricultural education," Vilsack said.

The secretaries said they hope the partnership will benefit the future of America's agriculture industry and its supply of educators.

"We have a Baby Boomer generation that's moving towards retirement," Duncan said," and even though these are tough economic times, over the next four to six years, we think we're going to need as many as a million new teachers in this country, and our ability, again, to bring in that talent and keep that talent is literally going to shape public education for the next 30 years."

Vilsack and Duncan discussed the special need to retain teachers in rural areas. They said many teachers leave rural positions because the educators aren't paid enough.

Vilsack said President Obama directed the secretaries to create a program for young teachers in rural areas. Through the USDA, the program would offer home loans to these teachers.

People at the town hall-style meeting also heard the secretaries discuss the importance of higher education.

"Four-year university's not for everybody, but I would argue very strongly that some form of higher education has to be the goal for everyone: four-year universities; two-year community colleges; trade, technical and vocational training," Duncan said.

Later in the afternoon, hundreds of people filled the lobby of the Roshek Building in downtown Dubuque to hear Duncan speak.

He highlighted the Together for Tomorrow joint initiative of the US Department of Education, White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

In Dubuque Wednesday, Duncan kicked off Together for Tomorrow's new School Improvement Challenge for the upcoming school year. It emphasizes the strategic role community organizations play in filling the needs of schools.

The Together for Tomorrow School Improvement Challenge specifically aims to help the nation's lowest-performing schools.

Powered by Frankly