PHILADELPHIA, September 30, 2009 – – State Sen. Anthony H. Williams accompanied over 40 public officials, teachers, parents and businessmen and women in an extensive roundtable discussion on education as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s “Listening and Learning” tour yesterday afternoon in Philadelphia.

The closed-door roundtable discussion with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and the Rev. Al Sharpton focused on the need for wholesale reform of American education and President Barack Obama’s education reform initiatives.

“This roundtable discussion presented a great opportunity for national leaders to hear discussion on the problems facing our Philadelphia schools from those in the state and community that are working towards improving the educational experience,” Williams said.

“While there are improvements being made across the city, there is still a lot more that can be done and I think it was important for them to hear and see firsthand what we are dealing with in Philadelphia.”

The event at the Delaplaine McDaniel School was the first stop in a nationwide tour to discuss some of President Obama’s education reform initiatives, which include longer school days and shorter summer breaks.

“The literacy numbers do not lie, and everyone knows that Philadelphia schools and students need our help,” Williams said. “It is our duty to act on this problem; we cannot sit back and let our children continue to drop out of school or breeze their way through without being able to read at grade level.”