SOE News

Dean McDiarmid joins Obama cabinet members and U.S. representatives at Hamlet town hall meeting on rural education

Photo of town hall meeting

Photo courtesy of the Richmond County Daily Journal

Bill McDiarmid, School of Education dean, joined other invited guests for an hour-and-a-half Town Hall meeting with U.S. Secretaries Arne Duncan (Education) and Tom Vilsack (Agriculture), as well as U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, Monday, Aug. 17 at Richmond Community College in Hamlet, N.C. The audience included State Superintendent June Atkinson and State School Board Chair Bill Harrison.

Much of the meeting focused on agricultural issues, particularly federal programs that might encourage schools to buy produce from local farmers for breakfast and lunch programs.

In addition, Secretary Duncan argued that the key to improving student achievement in low-wealth rural areas is to ensure that every student is taught by a highly qualified teacher. He noted that the uneven distribution of qualified teachers is a major problem.

Secretary Duncan also challenged an audience member’s claim that vouchers would solve our educational problems. He pointed out that the evidence does not support the assertion that voucher programs produce more student learning and, although he supports maximizing choice for students and families, he believes strongly in public schools. 

The meeting was one of nine stops on a “Rural Tour” of America. President Barack Obama is sending his cabinet members across the country to discuss how the federal government can work with states and communities to strengthen rural America.