Arne Duncan, Al Sharpton, and Newt Gingrich Join Forces

The 3 gents will tour cities to drum up support for President Obama's school reforms.

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In an effort to push cities to fix failing schools and highlight the Obama administration's programs to reform public education, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and civil rights leader Al Sharpton will join Education Secretary Arne Duncan on a tour of cities later this year.

The trio will visit Philadelphia on September 29, New Orleans on November 3, and Baltimore on November 13. More stops, including a rural site, will be added as the tour progresses. In a conference call with reporters yesterday, Duncan said the cities were chosen both for logistical reasons and for what they can show about school reform.

"These are cities that have real challenges but also tremendous hope and opportunity," he said.

Interviewed on NBC's Today show Friday, Gingrich and Sharpton were asked how they had agreed to work together on education in light of the many differences they've had on other issues.

"I think he has it exactly right, that education has to be the No. 1 civil rights issue of the 21st century, and I've been passionate about reforming education," Gingrich said. "And we can't get it done as a partisan issue."

Said Sharpton, "If there's anything Americans should be mature enough about to have a decent conversation, it's the education of their children."

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Duncan, Arne
Sharpton, Al
Gingrich, Newt
education reform