U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and new Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx rode a Tucson Unified School District route bus this morning and discussed the importance of school bus safety and security on the remembrance day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Duncan and Foxx spoke to school bus drivers, mechanics and dispatchers about the vital roles they play in school safety efforts before boarding a Tucson bus with Superintendent H.T. Sanchez and riding with students to Dodge Traditional Magnet School to participate in a service project with students.
The American School Bus Council helped plan the event. Spokesman Markus Vidnieks said Duncan's and Foxx's comments at the middle school included the importance of school buses to student as well as community safety and security, especially when the vehicles are needed for emergency evacuations. He added that Duncan and Foxx also led the school in the pledge of allegiance, and will speak to a social studies class on the importance of 9/11 and help students create commemorative coins on the importance of kindness and performing good deeds. Tucson Unified said the coins will be presented to President Obama and the First Family as well as the families of cabinet members and other federal dignitaries.
Following the service project, Duncan will check out how technology is being used to empower educators and engage students at Sunnyside High School.
The visit is part of the U.S. Department of Education's back-to-school tour with the theme "Strong Start, Bright Future." Tucson is one of 13 stops Duncan is making next week, starting on Monday in New Mexico before heading south to El Paso, Texas, and then west into Arizona and Southern California.
ASBC's Vidnieks told School Transportation News that Duncan and Foxx arrived at the school district's bus depot at 7 a.m. local time to meet with school bus drivers and other transportation personnel before boarding the school bus to the middle school.
Additionally, ASBC members were scheduled to meet at the magnet school with Secretary Foxx to discuss student transportation issues. The district said other activities taking place in conjunction with the secretaries' visit include a roundtable discussion about school safety and emergency planning, and a tour of elementary schools with a teaching ambassador fellow from the U.S. Department of Education.
Tucson Unified operates 318 yellow school buses that travel 29,000 miles per day to transport an average of 11,000 students.