NEWSLETTERS
September 4, 2009 ED Review
Archived Information


 September 4, 2009
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Back to School
H1N1 Flu Virus
ARRA Outreach
Statement on Senator Kennedy
Kids for King
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Back to School

In a recent letter to school principals, Secretary Duncan announced that, on Tuesday, September 8, at 12:00 noon ET, President Obama will deliver a national address directly to students on the importance of education. (Note: The time of this speech has changed from 1:00 p.m. ET.) The President will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning. He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents, and educators to ensure that every child in every school gets the best education possible, so he or she can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as citizens. The 15 to 20 minute address will be broadcast live (as well as archived) on the White House web site and C-SPAN. Furthermore, the Department is offering educators a menu of classroom activities—created by its Teaching Ambassador Fellows—to engage students in the address and stimulate classroom discussions about the importance of education.

To encourage student engagement, the Department is also launching the "I Am What I Learn" video contest. On September 8, students will be asked to respond to the President's challenge by creating videos describing the steps they will take to improve their education and the role education will play in fulfilling their dreams. All students age 13 and older are asked to create and upload their videos to YouTube by October 8; entries may be in the form of video blogs, public service announcements, music videos, or documentaries. The general public will then vote on their favorites—to determine the top 20 finalists. These 20 videos will be reviewed by a panel of judges, including Secretary Duncan. The panel will select three winners, each of whom will receive a $1,000 prize.

And don't forget! The next "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast (September 15, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET) will feature Secretary Duncan in a special town hall meeting, subtitled "America Goes Back to School." Since May, the Secretary has been traveling throughout the country to engage a broad group of stakeholders—including parents—in an open and honest conversation about federal education policy in anticipation of the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. Already, he has met with hundreds of students, parents, teachers, principals, education support staff, superintendents, professors, higher education administrators, and community leaders during his tour: "Listening and Learning: A Conversation About Education Reform." Now, for his latest tour "stop," he will engage in a live, interactive discussion via telephone, email, and video and with a studio audience.

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H1N1 Flu Virus

On August 24, Secretary Duncan joined Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty, and District of Columbia Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee to announce new recommendations on the continuity of learning in the event of student absences or school closures due to seasonal or novel H1N1 flu. "We can all work to keep ourselves healthy now by practicing prevention, close monitoring, and using common sense," Duncan said. "We know that some students may be affected by H1N1. And our top priority is making sure that they have a way to get well, stay well, and to keep learning. With these recommendations, we're providing strategies for educators to help ensure that the learning process will continue." The recommendations suggest that educators prepare take-home assignments in advance for distribution to affected students and use the Internet and telephones to post homework materials, conduct classes, share information, and keep students, parents, and teachers in close touch. The Department is working with Apple, Curriki, Google, the International Association for Online Learning, Microsoft, Pearson, Scholastic, and other private sector parties to make continuity of learning resources (such as conference call services, webinar support, and virtual classrooms) more accessible and affordable. More Information.

The Department has also issued new guidance to help prepare states, school districts, schools, and institutions of higher education in the event of an outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus during the school year. In general, this guidance discusses waivers and some other forms of relief from federal education requirements that may provide entities with the operational flexibility necessary to efficiently close schools and, otherwise, respond to the administrative challenges presented by an H1N1 outbreak (such as prolonged school closures, excessive absenteeism, and other disruptions in the regular delivery of education services). This guidance only covers federal education requirements.

Later this morning, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will release new guidance for child care facilities to plan for and respond to the upcoming flu season.

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ARRA Outreach

Last week, the Secretary announced the publication in the Federal Register of draft requirements for $3.5 billion in Title I School Improvement Grants to turn-around the nation's lowest-performing schools. Title I School Improvement grants are funded by $546 million in the Fiscal Year 2009 appropriations and $3 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The Secretary is required to award grants to each state based on the proportional share of funds it receives under Title I. Each state must provide subgrants to school districts that apply for funds and have demonstrated the greatest commitment to serve their Title I schools currently identified for improvement, corrective action, or restructuring under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Administration's strategy includes: identifying and serving the lowest-achieving Title I schools in each state; supporting only the most rigorous interventions that hold the promise of producing rapid improvements in student achievement and school culture; providing sufficient resources over several years to implement those interventions; and measuring progress in achieving results.

This week—the same week it released the second half of ARRA Title I, IDEA, and Vocational Rehabilitation funding 30 days ahead of schedule—the Department released new guidance on the use of ARRA Title I, Part A, IDEA, Part B, and IDEA, Part C funds to strengthen education, drive reform, and improve results for students. More Information.

Meanwhile, the Department has developed tip sheets to assist recipients in completing ARRA recipient reporting online.

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Statement on Senator Kennedy

The Secretary issued the following statement on the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy:

"Senator Kennedy was a tireless agent of change on behalf of the American people. His passing marks a great loss for both the United States Senate and the nation. He dedicated his life in public service to ensuring fairness and opportunity for all people. I drew inspiration from Senator Kennedy throughout my career and will miss his voice as a champion of education reform. My wife, Karen, and I extend our prayers and condolences to the Kennedy family, especially with Senator Kennedy's wife, Vicki, and with Kara, Teddy Jr., and Patrick."

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Kids for King

On August 25, the Secretary joined the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation on the National Mall to commemorate the 46th anniversary of the March on Washington and officially launch the Kids for King Education Initiative. "We must never forget the progress that Dr. King inspired in civil rights and social justice, and we must recognize how much work is still ahead of us," he said. "With high school dropout rates unacceptably high and college completion rates far too low, education is clearly the civil rights issue of this generation. Every child and adult deserves a high-quality education. This is the only lasting way to fuel our economic recovery and end the stubborn cycles of poverty and social failure." The Kids for King Education Initiative invites youth from grades 3-12 to write an essay, create a piece of art, or produce a short video about the lasting legacy of Dr. King and his ideals of democracy, justice, hope, and love. The program also contains a lesson plan for parents and teachers to educate youth about Dr. King; three lesson plans have been developed, including plans for grades 3-5, grades 6-8, and grades 9-12. The year-long program will culminate in fall 2010, when nine students will win a trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in a live press event on the National Mall. A memorial honoring Dr. King will be built on the Mall, adjacent to the FDR Memorial and in direct line between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. The foundation has raised $106 million out of the needed $120 million to build the memorial.

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Odds and Ends

  • The National Center for Education Statistics' Back to School Forecast notes more students are entering and returning to America's schools and colleges than ever before.

  • The Department has published in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing to implement general and non-loan provisions that were added to the Higher Education Act, as amended by the Higher Education Opportunity Act.

  • Under the ARRA, more students and parents will qualify over the next two years for a tax credit to pay for college expenses. The American Opportunity Credit modifies the existing Hope Credit for tax years 2009 and 2010, making it available to a broader range of taxpayers, including many with higher incomes and those who owe no tax. It also adds "required course materials" to the list of qualifying expenses and allows the credit to be claimed for four postsecondary education years, versus two. Many of those eligible will qualify for the maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student.

  • The Census in Schools program promotes data literacy and increases awareness of Census Bureau products and activities by providing educators with teaching tools, resource materials, workshops, and other professional development opportunities.

  • On a long-term basis, students' SAT mathematics scores have experienced an upward trend and are now four points higher than a decade ago. Conversely, students' SAT reading scores have declined somewhat and are now four points below what they were a decade ago. As in past years, the strongest SAT performers on average had three things in common: they had completed a core curriculum, had taken their school's most rigorous courses, and had familiarized themselves with the test.

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Quote to Note

"I often hear that managing the multiple missions of higher education, today, is akin to being caught in an 'iron triangle.' Every college president and every governing board wants to simultaneously improve quality, increase access—and yet constrain costs. To college executives, these three sides of the iron triangle often seem like mutually conflicting choices. Elevating quality raises costs. Increasing access can dilute quality. And, reducing costs impairs both quality and access. In the standard formulation, the only way out of the iron triangle is to secure unlimited resources, either in the form of bigger endowments or state and federal support. Now, the tension between these three goals is real—and I don't question for a minute that boosting resources for higher education is essential.... At the same time, I don't think that more resources alone are the answer to the challenges facing higher education.... A more promising long-term solution for breaking out of the iron triangle is to have college presidents and administrators make better and more imaginative use of efficiency, productivity improvements, and accountability."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (9/2/09), speaking at the National HBCU Conference

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Upcoming Events

On September 14, the Department will hold its next web conference designed to assist grantees and subgrantees in managing ARRA grants. The topic is the new Title I and IDEA use of funds guidance. Remember, previous conferences (on fraud prevention, completing Section 1512 quarterly reports, and cash management) are archived for review.

Nominations are currently being accepted for the 2010 MetLife Foundation community College Excellence Awards, which recognize exemplary institutions from across the nation that are making a significant difference in their communities. The foundation will present three awards: (1) for Exceptional Service to Students, (2) for Service to Communities, and (3) for Service through Innovation. Winners will receive a $40,000 grant. The deadline for nominations is October 2.

Over the next two weeks, the Department will exhibit at the National Council of Negro Women's Black Family Reunion Celebration on the National Mall in Washington, DC (September 12-13) and the National College Access Network's Annual Conference in San Francisco (September 15-17). 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—Stacey Jordan, (202) 401-0026, Stacey.Jordan@ed.gov
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Last Modified: 06/15/2012