Task Force: Student Loans
The Big Read
Quote to Note
In an April 20 radio address (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/
04/20070420-2.html), President Bush called on the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Justice to lead a national dialogue with educators, mental health experts, and various state and local officials on "steps" the federal government can take to help keep students safe and prevent future tragedies. Therefore, while in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the National Charter Schools Conference (4/27) and Los Angeles, California, for the Education Writers Association meeting (5/3), Secretary Spellings also conducted roundtables on safety. Further, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Safe and Drug-Free Schools Deborah Price and Acting Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education Jim Manning have been traveling with Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, respectively, to key states to learn from their own experiences. By the end of this month, Spellings, Leavitt, and Gonzales will report to the President on what they have heard. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/dialogue.html.
Also, in an effort to expand the discussion, Secretary Spellings is seeking public comment online at http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/dialogue-form.html. Specifically, she has three questions:
- In what ways can technology help to communicate with students and school professionalsbefore, during, and after a crisis situation?
- How can the many institutions involved in protecting studentsschools, colleges, law enforcement agencies, the medical and mental health community, and othersshare critical information in a way that protects individuals' privacy but does not sacrifice public safety?
- What are the most effective programs and best practices for preventing school violence and managing crises at U.S. schools and college campuses?
Your comments on these items or suggestions sent to SafeSchools@ed.gov will assist the Secretary in developing recommendations to be incorporated into the President's report.
In an April 23 letter to Chief State School Officers (http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/secletter/070423.html), Secretary Spellings provided an update on the Department's efforts to ease implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act through pilot programs (growth model, choice/SES, etc.), new grant competitions (Teacher Incentive Fund, AC/SMART grants, etc.), and regulatory flexibility (LEP, special education, etc.). Knowledge acquired from these efforts was used to inform the agency's comprehensive reauthorization proposal.
The next "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast (May 15, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET) will focus on how the U.S. can prepare all teachers to lead students toward success by exploring why effective teaching is at the core of America's long-term economic competitiveness; highlighting alternative strategies to recruit, train, and reward effective teachers; in light of the Virginia Tech attacks, offering tips and resources for teachers and parents on how to protect children from emergencies and counsel them in trauma; and showcasing award-winning teachers. Study after study offers compelling evidence that confirms what we have always known: teachers are the single most important factor in raising student achievement. Studies also show that verbal ability and content knowledge are the most imperative attributes of highly qualified and effective teachers. Equipped with these skills, highly qualified teachers can maximize every child's potential to meet high academic standards. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/av/video/edtv/. (You can watch live and archived webcasts at http://www.connectlive.com/events/ednews/.)
Task Force: Student Loans
Responding to public concerns about student loan lender practices, Secretary Spellings recently announced the formation of an internal Task Force on Student Loans. Consisting of members from the Department's Offices of Postsecondary Education, Federal Student Aid, and General Counsel, with representatives from the Office of the Inspector General serving in an advisory role, the group will consider such issues as preferred lender lists, prohibited inducements, and a National Student Loan Data System. It will build off the progress of the negotiated rulemaking committee on student loans, which met four times from December 2006 to April 2007 but was unable to reach consensus. The task force will report to the Secretary by May 31. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/04/04242007.html.
Also: The Department has outlined new procedures for guaranty agencies to restore their access to the National Student Loan Data System. Access to the system was suspended April 17 amid concerns of privacy violations as well as data mining. All guaranty agencies must submit a list of users and certify these personnel will use the system only for approved purposes. In addition, the Department has enhanced the log-on process, requiring users to correctly enter a series of letters and numbers displayed in a text box to gain access. Guaranty agencies require access to the system to perform functions critical to the delivery of federal aid.
Last week, in a South Lawn ceremony with President Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, and Secretary Spellings, music teacher Andrea Peterson was named the 2007 National Teacher of the Year. Peterson, who comes from a family of educators (including her father, mother-in-law, and sisters-in-law) teaches at Monte Cristo Elementary School in Granite Falls, Washington. She is the 57th recipient of the notable award and only the second music instructor to be so honored. The National Teacher of the Year program, sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the ING Foundation, designates an outstanding representative from among 56 State Teachers of the Year (representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, several outlying territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity). The winner is selected by a panel of the 15 leading national education organizations. For more information, please go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/
Then, on May 2, Secretary Spellings announced the selection of 2007 Presidential Scholars. The Presidential Scholars program was established by Executive Order in 1964 to honor outstanding academic achievement. It was expanded in 1979 to identify students who demonstrate talent in the creative, visual, and performing arts. Each year, 141 students are named, including at least one young man and woman from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad. Another 15 students are chosen at-large, and 20 students are scholars in the arts. Over 2,700 candidates qualified on the basis of significant ACT or SAT scores or nomination through the nationwide Arts Recognition and Talent Search. The Commission on Presidential Scholars, appointed by the President, chooses finalists. Scholars will be honored June 23-27 in Washington, D.C. Each scholar will invite the teacher who had the greatest impact on his or her success to participate in the ceremony and receive a certificate of appreciation. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/programs/psp/awards.html.
The Big Read
The National Endowment for the Arts' The Big Read seeks to provide citizens with the chance to read and discuss a single book within their communities. Communities are encouraged to apply for one of approximately 400 grants that will be awarded in 2008; 200 will be awarded for programming occurring between January and June (application deadline: July 31, 2007), and 200 more will be awarded for programming occurring between September and December. In addition to a grant, communities will receive a library of resources, including reader's and teacher's guides and audio guides with commentary from artists, educators, and public figures. Communities will also get publicity materials. For 2008, communities will choose from 12 prominent classics used in 2007 and nine new books: A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines; Washington Square by Henry James; A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin; Call of the Wild by Jack London; The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick; Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson; The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy (linked with Big Read to Russia); The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain; and Old School by Tobias Wolff. For more information, please go to http://www.neabigread.org/.
Quote to Note
"I ask every member of the Class of 2007 to...step forward to serve a cause larger than yourself. Volunteer in a local soup kitchen or shelter. Take time to check in on an elderly neighbor. Be a mentor to a child in need. Use the skills you have learned here to help build a better nation. Our armies of compassion need men and women like you. The great test of this generation will be how you answer the call to extend the promise of America and make our nation a more hopeful place for all. The character of the Class of 2007 gives me great faith in your success and confidence in the future of a nation that makes one people from out of many."
|||President George W. Bush (4/28/07),
from his commencement address at Miami Dade College
Don't forget! This summer, the Department will convene 18 Teacher-to-Teacher regional workshops for teachers to learn from fellow educators who have had success raising student achievement. Registration is free, but participants are responsible for transportation and lodging. For more information, please go to http://www.t2tweb.us/Workshops/Schedule.asp.
Over the next two weeks, the Department will be exhibiting at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference in Lake Buena Vista (FL) (May 9-12) and the Latin American Association's Latino Summit in Suwanee (GA) (May 10-12). If you are attending either of these events, please stop by the Department's booth.
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Director, Intergovernmental AffairsRogers Johnson, (202) 401-0026, Rogers.Johnson@ed.gov
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