Duncan, Gingrich, Sharpton to tout reforms

Aug. 14, 2009 at 3:36 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- The Rev. Al Sharpton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will join U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, touting education reform, the department said.

The trio will begin their tour in Philadelphia Sept. 29, the Education Department said Friday in a news release.

Gingrich, a Republican, and Sharpton, a Democrat, are "(two) of the most candid people I have ever known," Duncan said. "They are willing to challenge conventional thinking and I can absolutely promise some provocative conversations on education reform."

Besides Philadelphia, the three will visit New Orleans Nov. 3 and Baltimore Nov. 13. Duncan said more stops, including a rural site, will be added as the tour progresses.

"Fifty-five years after the historic Brown vs. Board of Education decision we still find that education is unequal in our nation," Sharpton said. "I agree with President Obama that we must use new methods to close the achievement gap so we do not continue to fail our children."

"President Obama has shown real courage on the issue of charter schools," Gingrich said. "I strongly believe that when you can find common ground, we should be able to put other differences aside to achieve a common goal."

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