NEWSLETTERS
November 27, 2009 ED Review
Archived Information


 November 27, 2009
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Student Town Hall
Educate to Innovate
ARRA Outreach (Race to the Top)
Rural Superintendents Meeting
National Educational Technology Plan
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Student Town Hall

On a "special edition" of the Department's "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast (December 15, 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET), Secretary Duncan will host a national town hall meeting with students to discuss what is working and what needs improvement in the nation's schools. Following President Obama's remarks at Wakefield High School almost three month ago, the Secretary will also explore how America's young people are responding to the President's challenge to take responsibility for their learning and achievement. The Secretary will take comments and questions from students in a studio audience and via telephone and email. To contribute to the discussion, students and other viewers may call the show during the live broadcast, at 1-888-493-9382, or submit comments online.

Also: The broadcast will feature an update on the Department's "I Am What I Learn" video contest for students. Since September 21, students have submitted over 600 video entries explaining why education is important to their future. These submissions came from students with diverse ethnic, economic, and social backgrounds, and the content ranged from music videos to short skits. The common theme in all of these videos is that education is the key to success. The Department's Office of Communications and Outreach (OCO) carefully reviewed the submissions and narrowed them down to 10 finalists. Voting to determine the three winning videos runs through December 4. The three winners will each earn a $1,000 prize. The submissions inspired two friends of the Department—Shane Battier of the Houston Rockets and Myron Rolle, who deferred the NFL draft to pursue a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University—to share their stories on the role education plays in their own lives.

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Educate to Innovate

On November 23, President Obama launched a new campaign, Educate to Innovate, designed to improve the participation and performance of America's students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The effort builds on the President's pledge to use his position to encourage students to study and consider careers in the STEM fields—upon which America's future depends—and elevate those students from the middle to the top of the pack, worldwide. At the kick-off event, the President announced five public-private partnerships that have committed to helping unleash the power of media, interactive games, hands-on learning, and community volunteers to reach millions of students over the next four years:

The President also announced a commitment by leaders such as Sally Ride (the first female astronaut), Craig Barrett (former chairman, Intel), Ursula Burns (CEO, Xerox), Glenn Britt (CEO, Time Warner Cable), and Antonio Perez (CEO, Eastman Kodak), to increase the impact of private sector and philanthropic support for STEM education, and an annual science fair held at the White House, showcasing the student winners of national competitions in such areas as science, technology, and robotics.

Note: Secretary Duncan and John Holdren, Policy Director for the White House Office of Science and Technology, answered questions about Educate to Innovate online.

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ARRA Outreach (Race to the Top)

The Department will host two Technical Assistance Planning Workshops for Race to the Top applicants to review technical and logistical aspects of the grant competition. At the workshops, staff will go through criteria, requirements, and priorities and answer questions about the program. The first workshop will be in Denver on December 3 (register by November 30). The second workshop will be in the Baltimore-Washington area on December 10 (register by December 4). Both will cover the same content, so it is recommended applicants attend whichever one of the workshops is most convenient. For those who are unable attend in person, the Department will supply a conference call number for the December 10 workshop. Also, transcripts of both the workshops will be posted online.

Also: The Department has released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the Race to the Top Fund, which will be continuously updated based on the comments received via RacetotheTop@ed.gov, as well as two PowerPoint presentations: one, an overview, the other, a guide to understanding the application itself.

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Rural Superintendents Meeting

Last week, Secretary Duncan met with a group of rural superintendents from nine states to listen and learn about their needs and to discuss ways that the Department can be a better partner in helping to find solutions to their education challenges. "Rural schools have unique challenges and benefits, and we value the input of rural school leaders as we work together to improve education for all children," he explained. "Nearly every state has rural schools, which frequently lack resources, have trouble attracting teachers, and serve students living in areas with high concentrations of poverty. At the same time, we know that all children can learn with the appropriate support. We must learn from and replicate the examples of success in small rural schools." The meeting was part of the Administration's ongoing effort to solicit input on how to strengthen rural America. This summer, the Secretary visited Alaska and North Carolina on the White House's Rural Tour and rural schools in Arizona, Montana, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming on his Listening and Learning Tour.

Also: "Why Rural Matters 2009," from the Rural School and Community Trust, is the fifth in a series of biennial reports analyzing the contexts and conditions of rural education in each of the 50 states and calling attention to the need, for policymakers, to address rural education issues in their respective states.

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National Educational Technology Plan

The Department is developing a new National Educational Technology Plan to provide a vision for how information and communication technologies can help transform American education. The plan will provide a set of concrete goals that can inform state and local educational technology plans, as well as inspire research, development, and innovation. A preliminary plan is expected in early 2010. Meanwhile, the development team is looking for insights from the field to help understand how to improve education through the innovative use of technology. Submissions will be accepted until November 30.

Note: Karen Cator, the former Director of Education Leadership and Advocacy at Apple Computer, is the new Director of the Department's Office of Educational Technology.

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Odds and Ends

  • A new Department video tells the story of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's (ARRA) impact on the school districts of Clark County, Nevada, and Memphis, Tennessee.

  • On November 13, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Reverend Al Sharpton joined the Secretary in Baltimore—the latest stop on their tour of several cities—to expose challenges, highlight reforms, and rally support for greater transparency and accountability in all schools.

  • Just two days later, the group discussed their national tour on NBC's "Meet the Press."

  • The Secretary recently addressed the National Association for the Education of Young Children's Annual Conference. "This is a unique moment in time when early learning is no longer an afterthought but has come into its own and is recognized as the first and most critical stage in human development," he said. "We have a special opportunity to build a bigger, better, coordinated system of early care and education. It is time to transform early learning from a system of uneven quality and access into a system that truly and consistently prepares children for success in school and in life. And, it is time to learn from the success of high-quality programs, even as we take on the challenge of raising the bar for early learning programs in the 21st century."

  • "National Survey of Student Engagement: 2009 Results," from Indiana University's Center for Postsecondary Research, summarizes the views of 360,000 first-year and senior students at 617 four-year colleges and universities on five benchmarks: (1) level of academic challenge, (2) active and collaborative learning, (3) student-faculty interaction, (4) enriching education experiences, and (5) supportive campus environment.

  • "Open Doors 2009," published annually by the Institute of International Education, reports on Americans studying abroad and international students in the U.S.

  • In preparation for reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the Department's Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) is hosting a series of community conversations.

  • In a recent Gallup poll, the U.S. Department of Education was the runner-up—second to the U.S. military—in a survey that asked respondents to name the "government agency that is the most important to the future of the U.S."

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Quote to Note

"Yes, improving education in math and science is about producing engineers, researchers, scientists, and innovators who are going to help transform our economy and our lives for the better. But, it's also about something more. It's about expanding opportunity for all Americans in a world where an education is the key to success. It's about an informed citizenry—in an era where many of the problems we face as a nation are, at root, scientific problems. And, it's about the power of science to not only unlock new discoveries but also to unlock, in the minds of our youngest people, a sense of promise, a sense that with some hard work—with effort—they have the potential to achieve extraordinary things."

        President Barack Obama (11/23/09), announcing the Educate to Innovate campaign

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Upcoming Events

On December 8, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. at the Department's headquarters (400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C.), the Department will host the final education stakeholder forum on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), focused on "college-ready graduates." (Note: Anyone unable to attend is invited to send comments to ESEA.Comments@ed.gov.)

On December 15, the Department will hold its next web conference designed to assist grantees and subgrantees in managing ARRA grants. The topic is equitable participation provisions for private school students. Remember, previous conferences are archived for review.

On December 17, in the next of a series, the What Works Clearinghouse will host a webinar concerning the recommendations of its "Using Student Achievement Data to Support Instructional Decision-Making" practice guide.

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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
Program Analyst—Adam Honeysett, (202) 401-3003, Adam.Honeysett@ed.gov
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Last Modified: 06/18/2012