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Education Secretary Duncan visits Detroit, says he is encouraged

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Education Secretary Arne Duncan talks to reporters at Brenda Scott Elementary and Middle School. Education Secretary Arne Duncan talks to reporters at Brenda Scott Elementary and Middle School.
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DETROIT (WJBK) -

Students explained their new school to Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Governor Rick Snyder at Brenda Scott Elementary and Middle School where children work at their own pace.  It is part of the Education Achievement Authority -- the state's new district -- the worst performing schools carved out of DPS.

"Talking to some of the young children today, this school compared to last year, they feel safer.  They're learning more," Duncan said.  "They feel they're in an environment where they have a chance to be successful."

Duncan, who once called Detroit "ground zero" for education in the U.S., said he is encouraged by what he sees at the EAA and DPS.

Inside there was lots of learning and cooperation, but outside there were protesters, including one dressed as a skunk.

Some young people were protesting the proposed closure of a school for Detroit's disabled students.

"We're fighting to keep all the schools open.  We're fighting to stop the EAA, stop the attacks on public education," said protester Kate Stenvig.

Meanwhile, the skunk was on hand to protest the secret educational reform meetings that were being held in Lansing, dubbed the "skunkworks project," recently exposed.

"I think it was very sketchy, and I think it's very unfortunate they had this secret workgroup.  I'm really glad that group was exposed, and I really hope that the state superintendent continues to be transparent and accountable," said Jessica Tramontana from Progress Michigan.

"How they met and some of the things they did, I don't think they used great judgment.  But the point is the topic about better using technology in education is something that I am supportive of," Snyder said.

The governor was also asked about the loans from DPS to the EAA.

"EAA is a startup, and they went to one of the inner local agreement partners that helped create them, which is DPS, and they worked through the normal process and chain of doing things with Treasury, the state board, and worked through a process of making loans that are getting paid back," Snyder said.

But the National Action Network is crying foul over those loans from one cash-strapped district to another.

"All of this needs to be transparent, and all of this needs to be out and open in the public.  Why?  Because it's our money.  It's our school system," said Rev. Charles Williams.

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