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March 27, 2009 ED Review
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 March 27, 2009
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ARRA Outreach
Middle Class Task Force
Science Education
New Appointments
Digest of Education Statistics
Civic Renewal
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

ARRA Outreach

Looking for an overview of the education provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)? The Department has released a PowerPoint presentation on guiding principles and funding availability. The ARRA contains more than $100 billion in direct education funding for the next two fiscal years and $39 billion in bonding authority and tax credits.

The Department's television team recently visited Vernonia, Oregon, a community whose schools and economy could benefit considerably from the ARRA. Schools were flooded over a year ago. Classes are being held in modular classrooms—with one set of bathrooms for nearly 400 students. Budget cuts have already impacted school supplies, and the specter of teacher layoffs looms. Find out how educators and other community members believe the ARRA will reinvigorate Vernonia's schools. (Note: Vernonia's story was part of the March "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast detailing the ARRA.)

A reminder from the Office for Civil Rights: "Federal agencies will shortly begin distributing funding from the ARRA. They must do so in accordance with all non-discrimination and equal opportunity statutes, regulations, and Executive Orders that apply to the distribution of funds under the ARRA. Agencies that grant funds must also ensure that recipients and subrecipients comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (prohibiting race, color, and national origin discrimination, including language access for persons with limited English proficiency), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (prohibiting disability discrimination), Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (prohibiting sex discrimination in education and training programs), the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (prohibiting age discrimination in the provision of services), and many program-specific statutes with non-discrimination requirements."

Note: Don't want to miss a thing? Get ED ARRA news online or by subscribing to the ED ARRA RSS feed. If you are interested in other ED news and resources (in addition to the ARRA), subscribe to the ED RSS feed or track ED on Twitter.

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Middle Class Task Force

On March 19, the Secretary joined Vice President Joe Biden and three other Cabinet secretaries for the second meeting of the Middle Class Task Force in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The task force took questions submitted from people all over the country at the New Flyer of America Bus Company—a growing leader in transit innovation and low-emission, alternative fueled vehicles. The task force also released a report explaining how, over the past decade, median family income has become decoupled from productivity in the broad economy. The report goes on to explain how the ARRA, beyond simply offering a basic stimulus to the economy, provides avenues by which to correct this underlying disconnect. Indeed, the ARRA is focused on the long-term health of the middle class. For example, the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which increases the maximum tax credit for higher education (from $1,800 to $2,500), extends the duration of the credit (from two to four years), and makes the credit partially refundable, empowers families to make sure their children have the education they need to succeed.

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Science Education

On March 20, Secretary Duncan addressed 4,000 attendees at the National Science Teachers Association Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. "Science education is central to our broader effort to restore American leadership in education worldwide," he began, offering up stark figures on the standing of U.S. education in the "science race." Fortunately, he continued, "[President Obama] understands that a nation not only needs its poets and scholars to give us words and wisdom, but also its inventors and engineers to design new cell phones, rebuild the levees of New Orleans, and find new sources of energy and new treatments for disease. Moreover, he is a president who will not allow scientific research to be held hostage to a political agenda. Whether it's global warming, evolution, or stem cell research, science will be honored, respected, and supported by this administration." The Secretary also challenged science teachers to "move the curriculum beyond dinosaurs and volcanoes" and take the best ideas "to scale in tough inner-city districts...as well as rural areas that cannot find qualified teachers in every subject." "You need to make inquiry-based science relevant to kids, stimulate their curiosity, connect it with their lives," he concluded. "Together, we need to change the national dialogue about science, to prepare our kids to be both honestly critical and technically competent."

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New Appointments

President Obama intends to nominate Gabriella Gomez as the Department's Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs. Gomez currently serves as Senior Education Policy Advisor for the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Education and Labor. Previously, she was Assistant Director of the Department of Federal Legislation for the American Federation of Teachers. In 2007, she received a fellowship from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute—an program aimed at bringing talented Hispanic leaders to work in Washington. She earned her B.A. from Loyola Marymount University, her M.Ed. from Harvard University, and studied British Policy at the London School of Economics.

Also, Secretary Duncan recently named Jo Anderson, Jr., as a Senior Advisor, responsible for outreach to teachers and teacher organizations. Anderson currently serves as Executive Director of the Illinois Education Association. Before assuming that post in 2005, he held a variety of other positions within the organization, working on issues such as school restructuring and professional development.

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Digest of Education Statistics

The "Digest of Education Statistics, 2008," from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), is the 44th in a series of publications initiated in 1962. Its primary purpose is to provide a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education—from pre-kindergarten through graduate school—drawn from government and private sources, but especially from surveys and other activities led by NCES. The digest contains data on the number of schools, students, and teachers, as well as statistics on educational attainment, finances, libraries, technology, and international comparisons (see also below). Details on population trends, education attitudes, labor force characteristics, and federal aid supplies helpful background for evaluating the education data.

Other new NCES publications:

  • "Comparative Indicators of Education in the U.S. and Other G-8 Countries: 2009" describes how the U.S. system of education compares with education systems in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Nearly 30 indicators are organized into five core sections: (1) population and school enrollment; (2) academic performance (including subsections for reading, math, and science); (3) context for learning; (4) expenditure for education; and (5) education returns. One key finding? The U.S. was the only G-8 country to award more first-time university degrees in the arts and humanities than in science, math, and engineering.
  • "Characteristics of Private Schools in the U.S.: 2007-08" presents K-12 private schools by selected characteristics, such as school level, school size, religious orientation, geographic region, urbanicity type, and program emphasis. One key finding? Of the 306,605 private school graduates for the 2006-07 school year, 65% attended a four-year college or university by the fall of 2007.
  • "The Literacy of Foreign-Born Adults in the U.S.: 2003" fully explores the English literacy of foreign-born adults living in households in the U.S., providing the English literacy scores of foreign-born adults age 16 and older by race/ethnicity, age of arrival in the U.S., years spent in the U.S., highest level of educational attainment, and language spoken before starting school. The scores are reported on three literacy scales: prose, document, and quantitative. Findings indicate that literacy scores of foreign-born adults varied across a variety of background characteristics.
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Civic Renewal

The White House has issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) in support of Congressional action on bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1388 and S. 277) that will expand high-quality service opportunities and position the federal Corporation for National and Community Service to support both growth and excellence in the programs it oversees. The President has called on all Americans to participate in civic renewal. The bills would expand the number of volunteers nationwide to 250,000—up from 75,000.

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Quote to Note

"I was heartened by the reaction to the President's speech [to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce]. Union leaders vowed to have an open mind on issues like performance pay, higher standards, and charters, asking only that reform be done 'with them, not to them.' Officials at every level of government are also broadly supportive. They are...asking the right questions. How can we ensure that taxpayer dollars make a meaningful and lasting difference in the classroom? How can we make sure these funds are spent effectively? The answer is simple. We are demanding absolute transparency for every dollar spent, and we will use the power of the bully pulpit and...the purse to reward what is working and to reform what is not. At a minimum, the [ARRA] will help keep teachers teaching and students learning. But, if all we do is perpetuate the status quo, we will miss this historic opportunity."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (3/23/09), in an op-ed published in the Dallas Morning News

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Upcoming Events

The U.S. Department of Energy, through its EnergySmart Schools Program, is hosting a live webcast on April 16 entitled "Implementing Recommendations from the Advanced Energy Design Guide for K-12 School Buildings." Presenters Shanti Pless and Paul Torcellini of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will present a comprehensive overview of the guide, which provides recommendations—based on climate zones—to achieve 30% energy savings over baseline standards in new and renovated school building projects. Participants who are also members of the American Institute of Architects are eligible to earn learning credits.

Speaking of buildings, April 27-May 1 is School Building Week 2009. Supported by the Council of Educational Facility Planners International, School Building Week is a celebration of school facilities, including a School of the Future Design competition, Healthy Schools Day, a historic look at schools through children's eyes, a focus on excellent schools that serve as centers of community, and a variety of national, state, and local events. (Note: School facility modernization and renovation was the feature in the March issue of the Department's Education Innovator newsletter.)

Next week, the Department will exhibit at the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education's National Conference on Blacks in Higher Education in Atlanta (April 1-4), the National Association of Elementary School Principals' Annual Convention in New Orleans (April 2-6), and the National School Boards Association's Annual Conference in San Diego (April 4-7). If you are attending any of these events, please stop by the Department's booth.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

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Last Modified: 06/14/2012