WASHINGTON, DC: Though he might seem an unlikely PR ambassador, Secretary of Education Dick Riley has hit the road to draw attention to the progress and needs of rural public schools.
WASHINGTON, DC: Though he might seem an unlikely PR ambassador,
Secretary of Education Dick Riley has hit the road to draw attention to
the progress and needs of rural public schools.
Riley embarked yesterday on a four-day ’Success Express’ bus tour. Not
coincidentally, the trip comes at the beginning of a new school
Riley’s goodwill mission is also designed to showcase the progress being
made in the Mississippi Delta region, once viewed by leading experts as
an education wasteland. This perception, however, is starting to change
as image-conscious leaders of both political parties have come to better
appreciate the link between education and economic progress.
According to Tom Lyon, chief of the news branch of the Department of
Education (DOE), the tour will stop mostly at rural school
Riley will seek to highlight successes in reading and after-school
programs as well as in the use of technology.
’When people think of education, they think of suburban schools or
inner-city schools,’ said Lyon.
The bus tour is a good vehicle for promoting education, Lyon added,
because ’it presents an opportunity to meet more people. It’s better
than breezing through airports, and most of these towns (on the tour)
don’t even have airports.’
While the DOE considered doing some live broadcasts from the tour, they
eventually discarded the idea due to the cost. Still, the education
trade press will join Riley on his jaunt, along with the national
president of the PTA, governors from both political parties and state
education officials. Among the tour’s sponsors are Alltel, Bell South
Widmeyer-Baker Group SVP David Frank, previously director of
communications at the DOE, believes there is an acute need to draw
attention to the plight of rural schools. ’They’re less able to get
teachers in courses like math and science,’ he explained, noting that
Riley took a similar tour last year of southeastern states.
’It generated good feelings,’ he said.