Duncan's back-to-school bus tour to include stop at Schurz HS auto shop, ignoring dozens of shops Duncan decimated while CEO of CPS

By September 6, 2011, the U.S. Department of Education's propaganda machine was revving up for the Midwest bus tour of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who promises to end this week's tour at lunch time at Chicago's Carl Schurz High School in the auto shop. Within all the reams of propaganda being devoted to the annual publicity stunt (last year Duncan's tour was on the East Coast), Duncan's version of history leaves out the fact that during his time as "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools, the city's school system, which had already been cutting vocational and career education programs in the name of some vague version of college readiness, took a meat axe to the popular programs in two ways. On the one hand, CPS increased the number of required courses for high school students, thereby making it impossible for students to take "shop" classes, and on the other hand CPS simply dumped or privatized the course, forcing students who wanted to learn such skills into the hands of private schools that charged for instruction. Duncan was behind both while he served from July 2001 through December 2008 as head of Chicago's public schools. In December 2008, President Barack Obama announced that Duncan would be appointed U.S. Secretary of Education, and in January 2009, Duncan took his present post.

Arne Duncan's tour bus will get to Chicago's Carl Schurz High School at around noon on Friday, September 9, 2011. Photo by U.S. Department of Education.On September 6, 2011, Duncan's Education Department Website returned to the story of Chicago's shop classes with a promotional for Duncan's Friday visit to Schurz High School.

Duncan's own version of the tour, posted on the U.S. Department of Education website, repeats the usual Obama administration platitudes:

Working Together to Create World-Class Schools, Posted on September 7, 2011 by pkickbush

Cross-posted from the White House Blog.

Now that our nation’s children are back in school, I will be travelling through six states with this important message: our nation’s long-term economic security is inextricably linked to education. We have to educate our way to a better economy.

The jobs of today and tomorrow will require knowledge workers with some postsecondary training, whether it is an associate or bachelor’s degree, or technical training available from a vocational school or community college.

Unfortunately, America has a long way to go before we can truly say we’re educating today’s children to be competitive in the knowledge economy. By many indicators, we’re falling far short.

The Obama administration has a cradle-to-career agenda to support states and districts as they reform their schools and make college more affordable for students. This agenda is designed around key principles, including:

Creating early learning systems that align all of their resources to get our youngest children ready for kindergarten.

Raising standards so they actually prepare students for success in college and careers.

Improving the quality of teaching in the classroom by improving the preparation, professional development, and evaluation of teachers and principals.

And turning around persistently low-performing schools that have been failing students for decades or even generations.

It’s an aggressive agenda, and we’re backing it up with unprecedented investments in reform. We’ve already made the largest investment in higher education since the GI Bill. We’re creating new incentives for states to align their early learning programs to ensure all children are ready for kindergarten. Through Race to the Top, states have made more progress in reform over the past two years than in the previous decade. And the President has a plan to fix No Child Left Behind by offering states flexibility from its one-size-fits all mandates.

Nevertheless, reform will happen in states and communities. Our job in Washington is to provide resources and support for the excellent work happening in states and communities.

That’s why I’m so excited about this week’s bus tour. All across the Midwest, members of my team will be visiting communities where elected officials, union leaders, business owners, and teachers are working together to transform the lives of children.

In these communities, we’ll hear the stories of people working together to create world-class schools. We’re going to see innovative approaches to fixing broken teacher evaluation systems, turning around underperforming schools, and tackling other challenges. We’re going to watch extraordinary people doing extraordinary things to transform the lives of children.

These are the inspirational stories that are happening all over America. They are the reason I’m optimistic that the American people are ready to embrace reform and prepare our young people to be leaders in the knowledge economy.

Arne Duncan is the U.S. Secretary of Education

Duncan's website posted the following story about how Duncan will be stopping by at the Schurz auto shop while ignoring all the shops he's closed:

As Tour Revs Up, Chicago Automotive Classroom Is on the Map, Posted on September 6, 2011 by Guest Blogger

This week, Secretary Arne Duncan and a team of ED officials are embarking upon the Department’s 2011 back-to-school tour—this year under the theme of “Education and the Economy: Investing in our Future.” The tour will take Arne and a big blue bus throughout the Great Lakes region, with stops at a number of outstanding schools and communities. The bus’s final stop will be in the city where Arne served as CEO of the public schools, Chicago, before coming to Washington. At Carl Schurz High School, he’ll visit the classroom of Clairene Terry, an automotive class teacher who has restored automotive mechanics’ stature as an exciting and promising career path for Carl Schurz students.

Terry, a product of Chicago Public Schools herself, restored the automotive mechanics program at Schurz, and grew it into one of the most sought-after classes at the school. “There were always at least 120 students signing up for the [35-student] program. The numbers never dropped off,” she recalls.

Terry enthusiastically transfers her passion for diagnosing and fixing problems in cars, along with thinking skills, to her students. After she began teaching at Schurz in 2000, she led a team of students to a national automotive mechanics competition, where the team earned 5th place nationally and 1st place among Chicago high schools. “I love being competitive, that’s what drives me,” she says.

Working in auto mechanics today isn’t the same as it was 20 year ago. With advanced computer technology integrated into new vehicles, maintaining and repairing autos requires higher-order computer and math skills. Terry acknowledges how quickly technology in the field evolves, but she ensures that her students still have a solid understanding of the basics. “If you understand the basics, nothing changes; the concepts remain the same,” she explains. Despite increasing automation, core mechanic competency areas such as brakes, steering and engine performance have remained largely unchanged over the years, she says.

As an African-American woman at the forefront of high school automotive mechanics teaching, Clairene Terry is rare, if not unique, among educators in her field. She is currently the president of the Illinois College Automotive Instructors Association, an organization with more than 200 members. Before becoming an educator, Terry considered a variety of careers; she worked in insurance, as a security guard and served in the military. Automotive mechanics was the only one she found where she didn’t “hit a ceiling,” she recalls.

Just as Terry broke into a male-dominated field, as a teacher, she wants her students to understand that, despite what people may tell them, “no door is closed.” She prods them on to bigger and better things, asking them often, “Who can tell you what you can do?”

Secretary Duncan will visit Terry and her successful program during the bus tour’s final stop on Friday, before a forum highlighting a landmark education reform package that recently became law in Illinois. Arne recently acknowledged that career and technical education—and programs like Terry’s—is not receiving the attention it deserves during education reform discussions.

“The need to re-imagine and remake career and technical education is urgent,” Duncan said. “CTE has an enormous, if often overlooked, impact on students, school systems, and our ability to prosper as a nation.”

Follow this year’s back-to-school tour by visiting, by following #EDTour11 on Twitter, and by signing up for email updates from ED and Arne.


Luke Ferguson, a student at Oberlin College in Ohio, was an intern over the summer in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach.


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