Duncan Urges Local Leaders To Close 'Opportunity Gap' In Education

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan made Topeka a stop on his educational bus tour across America Tuesday.

He stopped at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site to tout the importance of providing all students with equal educational opportunities.

The Topeka High School Drum Line and the Williams Science and Fine Arts Magnet School choir welcomed Duncan with some local flair, with the choir performing "Home on the Range."

Duncan spoke to educators, administrators and students about what he called America's "paradox of progress."

"As a nation, America has absolutely made a lot of strides in race relations since Brown v Board of Education. And yet, everybody here knows, we still have so far to go," he said on the steps of the museum.

Duncain said segregation is as much an issue today than it ever was since civil rights leader dr. martin luther king's death.

"Today less than eight percent of students taking AP math are African American. And here in Topeka, white students are about four times as likely to participate in a gifted and talented as their black or Hispanic peers," he said.

This stop is part of Secretary Duncan's 10-day national Back To School bus tour. His message here at the Brown v. Board National Historic Site: Education is still a civil rights issue.

14-year-old Highland Park High School student Dy-Esha Risby was part of her school's delegation to meet with senior education officials prior to Duncan's speech. She says the visit was eye-opening.

"I didn't think it'd be like that. We learned how discrimination and segregation is still going on today and sometimes we don't really notice it," she said.

Duncan urged local leaders to demand resources for underfunded districts.

"Here in the shadow of this once segregated school, let us redouble our efforts to close that opportunity gap," he said.

For Dy-Esha Risby, the message rings loud and clear.

"Try your best to get an education because education is meant for all races, not just one," she said.

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