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Leaders from 40 States Representing More Than 1 Million African American Students Expected to Participate in U.S. Department of Education's National Conference on Labor-Management Collaboration in Denver, Colorado

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U.S. Education Secretary and National Education Leaders to Discuss Future of Labor Management Collaboration on Wednesday Press Call

The U.S. Department of Education has selected 150 school districts from among the 245 applications it received to participate in its upcoming conference on labor-management collaboration Tuesday-Wednesday, Feb. 15-16, in Denver, Colo.

"Union leaders and administrators across the country are finding new ways to work together to focus on student success," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "The leaders from these 150 districts are committed to bold reforms and are showing the country what is possible when adults come together, particularly in tough times, to do the right thing for kids."

The broad cross section of participating districts selected by the Department closely mirrors the make-up of our nation's schools. Approximately 34 percent are from cities, 34 percent from suburbs, 8 percent from towns, and 24 percent from rural areas. The districts are almost evenly divided between those with fewer than 10,000 students and those with more than 10,000 students. Overall, close to 3.8 million students--more than one million of them African American--will be affected by the work of the districts invited to participate.

African American students constitute approximately 17 percent of all public elementary and secondary school students. Even though test scores in some subjects have gone up, these students continue to lag behind white students in all grade levels and in all core subjects--reading, math and science--according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), commonly referred to as the Nation's Report Card. There has been no narrowing of the achievement gap for 4th graders in reading and math since 2007. Even more daunting is the fact that the gap between 8th grade African American and white students has not narrowed in math since 1990, when the first NAEP math assessment was administered, and since 1992, the first year the assessment was given in reading. Thus, for almost two decades, African American students have lagged behind white students in both math and reading.

While African American students have made some academic gains, there is still much ground to cover in order to narrow the achievement gap. This conference will address core issues that affect student performance and college readiness, and turnaround outcomes for African American students. The two-day event is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education in partnership with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, National School Boards Association, American Association of School Administrators, Council of the Great City Schools, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Funding to support the conference is provided by the Ford Foundation.

Secretary Duncan and representatives from leading national education groups will reflect on the conversations and ideas that were put forth at the conference during a national press call at 1 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Feb. 16. Media representatives who wish to join the call may dial (888) 949-2789.

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