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September 12, 2008 ED Review
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 September 12, 2008
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Rescheduled: Free Books!
National Education Summit
NCLB Update
Letters on Use of Race
Teacher Resources
Lincoln Poster
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Rescheduled: Free Books!

Due to Hurricane Hanna's Southeast approach, the Department postponed its September 4 event with First Book in South Carolina, where it expected to announce the availability and subsequent distribution of 300,000 free new children's books for the 2008 Back to School Book Donation. The event has been rescheduled for September 30. Shortly thereafter, barring any unforeseen circumstances, First Book will reopen the registration process for schools, libraries, and literacy organizations serving low-income youth at http://www.firstbook.org/register/. Remember, to be eligible to register, an entity must: (1) serve children where at least 50% are from low-income households, (2) be a Title I or Title I-eligible school, or (3) be a military family support program. Since 2006, the Department has partnered with First Book and major U.S. book publishing companies to distribute three million books. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/bookcampaign/.

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National Education Summit

On Monday (September 15), Secretary Spellings will join more than 300 national leaders in Washington, DC, for the Aspen Institute's National Education Summit. The Secretary will kick-off the summit with a dynamic presentation, entitled "Our Children—Joining the Fight for Education Reform." Then, following her remarks, she will participate in a discussion with Roy Romer, Chair of Strong American Schools, Joel Klein, Chancellor of the New York City Public Schools, and Tom Donohue, President and CEO of the United States Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of this bi-partisan event is actually three-fold: (1) to highlight the impact of the under-performing education system on multiple community sectors, including business, the economy, health care, and national security; (2) to establish a broad consensus on critical reforms necessary for producing an effective education system that will adequately support all sectors of the society and prepare children—regardless of background or family income—for lives of opportunity and citizenship; and (3) to produce and release an action plan outlining the steps necessary for building adequate public support to sustain effective education reform. Attendance is by invitation only. However, interested parties are invited to watch the summit via live webcast. That morning, a link will be added to http://www.aspeninstitute.org/ (no log-in required). The Secretary's presentation will begin at 8:45 a.m. ET. For more information, please go to http://www.aspeninstitute.org/urgentcall/. (Note: After the event, the Department will post segments on http://www.ed.gov/.)

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NCLB Update

This week, in Atlanta, Georgia, Secretary Spellings named 320 schools as 2008 No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools. This program recognizes high performing schools (whose students, regardless of background, perform in the top 10% on their state assessments [public] or nationally normed assessments [private]) and dramatically improving schools (whose students, at least 40% of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds, dramatically improved on tests to score in at least the top 40% statewide). Chief State School Officers nominate public schools. The Council for American Private Education nominates private schools. Of the schools nominated by each state, at least one-third must have more than 40% of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and all recipients must meet No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements, as defined by their states. The schools will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, DC, October 20-21. The principal and a teacher from each school will receive a flag and plaque signifying their Blue Ribbon status. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/awards.html. (Note: Seeking further insight from the Secretary? Read her redesigned travel log at http://www.edgovblogs.org/spellings/.)

Also this week, the Secretary announced a $4.3 million Early Reading First grant for Des Moines (Iowa) Public Schools, which will help 400 preschool students learn the critical foundations of reading. During her visit, she also held a roundtable with parents and educators about Early Reading First and its counterpart, Reading First. "Early Reading First and Reading First have helped to crack the code and prove what strategies are most effective in helping kids learn to read well," she said. "These programs are lifelines for many of our nation's most vulnerable children and families..." For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/09/09102008.html.

The Achiever newsletter, available solely online, focuses on how successful schools across the U.S. are working toward the goal of the No Child Left Behind Act: to have every student reading and doing math at grade-level by 2014. The latest story spotlights Anna F. Booth Elementary School in rural Alabama, where 70% of students were homeless after Hurricane Katrina. School faculty and staff credit Reading First with helping move third-grade readers, from 29% in 2003 to 63% in 2008, on the Stanford Achievement Test. In fact, academic gains at Booth have been so steady that, over the past three years, it has earned the state's prestigious "Torchbearer" designation as a high-performing school serving a high-need population. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/achiever/.

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Letters on Use of Race

On August 28, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Stephanie Monroe issued "Dear Colleague" letters providing guidance, under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, regarding the use of race in the context of K-12 student assignment to schools and higher education student admissions. These important letters supply succinct statements of the key Title VI principles pertinent to the use of race in these contexts, as discussed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District (K-12) and Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger (higher education), and are intended to ensure that students are assigned to schools and admitted to colleges and universities on a non-discriminatory basis consistent with Title VI and its implementing regulations (34 C.F.R. Part 100). "When developing policies, districts/ postsecondary institutions must comply with the constitutional principles of equal protection," she noted in both letters. "OCR is available to provide more detailed technical assistance to individual districts/ postsecondary institutions on a case-by-case basis." For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/whatsnew.html.

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Teacher Resources

Wishing "teachers, principals, and administrators a successful and productive school year," the Department's Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative has compiled an excellent list of new resources. For example:

  • American Stars of Teaching. Currently, the Department is honoring 2008 American Stars of Teaching—teachers who are improving student achievement and using innovative strategies to make a difference in the lives of their students. One American Star will be recognized in every state and the District of Columbia with surprise school visits. A complete list of American Stars will be posted in October.

  • Math Panel. Teacher-to-Teacher has created a short informational movie that teachers can share with parents and members of their communities about the recommendations of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. A digital workshop on the recommendations is also being developed for teachers.

  • Native American Project. Teacher-to-Teacher has created a digital teacher workshop series for teachers of Native American students. The trainings, taught by Native Americans, target reading, selecting children's literature, and family and community involvement. Three additional modules, on math and science, will be available later this year.

For more information, please go to http://www.t2tweb.us/.

Other new publications:

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Lincoln Poster

Attention teachers! Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth this February 2009 with the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission's free classroom poster! The front side, suitable for display, is a portrait of Lincoln. The reverse side contains resources for educators, offering suggestions for incorporating Lincoln's legacy into the classroom. To request this poster, please call (202) 707-6998 or visit http://www.lincolnbicentennial.gov/ and select "Learning About Lincoln." At this site, you can also review key resources, search lesson plans, and find event ideas. In addition, students and teachers can become involved through the School Recognition Program, National Teach-In (February 12, 2009), and numerous other activities.

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Quote to Note

"More demanding [school] coursework often results in a temporary decline in test scores, but its long-term benefits include a more educated workforce and greater economic security. As Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall said, 'Everyone knows that the second half of the climb is the toughest. The next phase of our school reform agenda will be more challenging... and will require agility, creative use of staff, resources, and the knowledge of how to conquer the rocky terrain of total district reform.' I fully agree, and I'm confident Georgia's up for the challenge. Blue Ribbon Schools like F. L. Stanton [Elementary School] are already leading the way."

        Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (9/9/08), on her travel log after visiting Atlanta, Georgia

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Upcoming Events

Tuesday (September 16) is the first meeting of the National Technical Advisory Council (NTAC). This 16-member body (see http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/08/08132008.html) was appointed over the summer to advise the Secretary on complex and technical issues regarding the design and implementation of state assessments and accountability systems. At this meeting, the NTAC will discuss Department guidance related to growth models, performance indexes, and the use of high school end-of-course assessments. The public is welcome to attend, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Department's auditorium (400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC). For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/
other/2008-3/090208a.html
.

To mark the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787, Congress has mandated that educational institutions receiving federal funds take one day to teach the document that shaped America's democratic government. In support of students and teachers in their studies, a variety of online resources are available from the Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE) web site. Additional resources are available from the National Archives and Records Administration and the National History Education Clearinghouse. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/policy/fund/guid/constitutionday08.html. (Note: Originally called Citizenship Day, Congress officially renamed the holiday as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day in late 2004.)

Over the next two weeks, the Department will be exhibiting at the Hispanic Engineering, Science, and Technology Week conference at the University of Texas-Pan American (September 21-27) in Edinburg, Texas, and the National College Access Network's Annual Conference in Houston (September 22-24). If you are attending either of these events, please stop by the Department's booth.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

Please feel free to contact the Office of Communications and Outreach with any questions:
Director, Intergovernmental Affairs—Rogers Johnson, (202) 401-0026, Rogers.Johnson@ed.gov
Deputy Director—Keith Brancato, (202) 401-6178, Keith.Brancato@ed.gov
Program Analyst—Adam Honeysett, (202) 401-3003, Adam.Honeysett@ed.gov
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Last Modified: 05/21/2009