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Secretary of Education visits Maine

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Congresswoman Chellie Pingree joins Arne Duncan to talk with military families in Kittery and hold forum with teachers and education leaders in Portland

On August 31, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree joined Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan on two Maine stops of his eight-state "Courage in the Classroom" tour to discuss the unique challenges facing both Maine schools and students in military families. Pingree and Duncan first visited Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to learn more about programs for military families and then came to King Middle School in Portland for a forum with state and local education leaders on the school's innovative teaching strategies.

"I'm very glad that I was able to talk to Secretary Duncan in our state about what our schools face," said Pingree. "Maine takes it commitment to education very seriously, but our rural schools are dealing with incredible pressure to cut budgets, restructure, and meet federal mandates. Today we hear so much about standardization in education, but Maine values its uniqueness and is doing great things with the ways our communities prepare their children for the future. So, this visit was a great opportunity to remind the Secretary of the delicate balance Maine is trying to keep."

At the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the group had lunch with base officials, Navy personnel, and military families to talk about education programs and support for students in military families. Afterward, the group met with young students at the base's Youth Center.

"It really was a privilege to meet with those families and learn more about the unique challenge they deal with," Pingree said. "Growing up is hard enough without having to switch schools frequently, make friends in a new state, and cope with the deployment of a parent. It's not just service members who deserve our thanks, but their families too for all they sacrifice."

In Portland, Pingree and Duncan participated in a forum with about 20 of Maine's education leaders, including Portland Superintendent Jim Morse, acting Maine Commissioner of Education Angela Faherty, president of the Maine Education Association Chris Galgay, and teacher and parents. Discussion focused on the innovative ways Portland schools have created engaging, understanding and collaborative learning environments for its very diverse student population.

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