U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) issued the following statement about Reconnecting McDowell and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's visit today to West Virginia.
"As West Virginia's governor and now as a U.S. Senator, education has always been a top priority for me. I first reached out to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in 2009 to share ideas and to work with him to make education in West Virginia as comprehensive and beneficial to our children as possible. Reconnecting McDowell is a plan that could only have been created by passionate educators working in collaboration with businesses, community leaders, and organizations focused on a common goal. I truly applaud the vision and leadership of all of the partners who are involved with Reconnecting McDowell -- the American Federation of Teachers, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, my dear wife and Vice President of the West Virginia Board of Education Gayle Manchin, the rest of the West Virginia Board of Education, as well as the many other organizations and companies who have come together to improve opportunities for the next generation of McDowell County residents.
"Education is the key to economic development and I truly believe that this public/private partnership is a model for our nation. The more we partner up our businesses and our students, the more our students will be ready for the jobs that are available now, in their own communities. I so appreciate U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan for visiting our state to see firsthand our children's true potential. Through his visit, I am confident that the Secretary will see just how special West Virginians are and how we always come together for the betterment of our families and communities.
"Put simply, Reconnecting McDowell is such a powerful, historic partnership, and I am confident that this effort will improve education, and as a result, help to reshape the economic future for the children and communities across McDowell County -- and it could be a model for all the challenged areas of our country."