HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - During the first day of his visit to Hawaii, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan praised the state's success and acknowledged the challenges that remain. He joined a panel discussion at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
"Hawaii still has a long way to go, but by virtually any measure, Hawaii is one of the fastest improving states in the nation now. It's amazing. That is hard work. It's courage. It's leadership from the governor all the way down," said Duncan.
The state received a four-year, $75 million dollar Race to the Top grant in 2010. The following year, Hawaii was placed on high-risk status, but by July 2013, the U.S. Department of Education removed that label for the entire grant.
"All the credit goes to hard-working teachers, principals, superintendents, and students themselves for stepping up," Duncan said.
Duncan emphasized the need to invest in early childhood education and to level the playing field for military families that are constantly moving.
"We want to do everything we can to support these families, support them as they move from state to state to state. That is why having high expectations is so important across the nation, but these children absolutely deserve the best and we want to be the best partner we can," said Duncan.
He also stressed that parents need to be involved.
"Our students need and deserve great teachers and great principals, but we can't expect them to do it by themselves. Whether it's being in constant contact with those teachers, being a full and equal partner at school, turn off those TV's at night to give children chances to do their homework, parents have to be part of the solution" Duncan said.
Duncan will visit a public charter school in Waianae and also meet with Governor Neil Abercrombie at Waipahu High School on Monday.