Support for Haiti
H1N1 Flu Virus
Odds And Ends
Quote to Note
Support for Haiti
Last week, Secretary Duncan issued the following statement in support of the people of Haiti:
"Like all Americans, I am deeply saddened by the destruction and loss of life caused by the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the people of Haiti and especially to its children and its educators. I am hopeful that the U.S. Department of Education can play a role in helping the people of Haiti rebuild their lives and rebuild their schools."
The U.S. government has mobilized resources and manpower to aid in the relief effort. Groups and individuals can get involved by contributing to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and American Red Cross, donating goods, and volunteering. Assets are also available for inquiring about the whereabouts and welfare of family and friends in Haiti.
This week, the Department announced that 40 states and the District of Columbia submitted applications to be considered for Phase I of the Race to the Top competition. Race to the Top is the agency's $4.35 billion fund to dramatically reshape America's educational system to better engage and prepare students for success in the 21st century global economy and workplace. States' Phase I applications were due to the Department by January 19 at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Winners of the first Race to the Top awards will be announced in April. A second round of applications from states will be due in June, with winners announced this September. States that apply, but do not win in Phase I, may reapply for Phase II.
Earlier that day, President Obama announced his intention to propose in his Fiscal Year 2011 budget $1.35 billion to continue Race to the Top. He also announced his intention to expand the competition to include local school districts that are committed to reform. The announcement came during a visit with Secretary Duncan at Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia, one of the lowest-income yet highest-achieving schools in Fairfax County. (Note: A new White House fact sheet details revised state- and community-level educational policies and practices consistent with Race to the Top and other American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA] education programs.)
Also: The omnibus appropriations bill which was signed into law by President Obama on December 16, 2009, includes two major changes to the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. First, the law allows states and school districts to use SIG funding to serve certain "newly eligible" schools. In particular, SIG funds may now be used to serve Title I schools that are not in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring and schools that are eligible for, but do not receive, Title I, Part A funds if those schools: (1) have not made Adequate Yearly Progress for at least two years or (2) are in the state's lowest quintile of performance based on proficiency rates. Second, the law increases the amount that a state may award for each school participating in the SIG program from $500,000 to $2 million annually. The Department is implementing these provisions by issuing interim final requirements defining how states and districts may use the new flexibility in eligibility and funding. States' SIG applications are due February 8.
On January 14, at the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) annual convention in Atlanta, Secretary Duncan, who was co-captain of his Harvard University basketball team as well as played in Australia's professional basketball league from 1987 to 1991, praised the NCAA for developing leaders while sharply criticizing college teams that do not graduate their athletes. The Secretary also questioned the National Basketball Association's (NBA) minimum-age policy, which he argued "sets up" athletes for failure. Some key excerpts:
"Student athletes learn lessons on courts and playing fields that are difficult to pick up in chemistry lab. Resilience in the face of adversity, selflessness, teamwork, self-discipline, and discovering your passion are all values that sports can uniquely transmit. Many of those character-building traits are every bit as critical to succeeding in life as sheer book smarts.... More than 410,000 student athletes participate in NCAA championship sports, including more than 161,000 student athletes in Division I. For the vast majority of student athletes, intercollegiate sports enrich their college years and build a well-rounded student experience. Yet, the valuable role of sports on campus has a shadow cast over it these days because of ongoing abuses, especially in Division I men's basketball and big college football programs. About a quarter of the 64 teams in last year's NCAA men's basketball tournament graduated less than 40% of their players. Four teams graduated none of their African-American players. By contrast, Florida State, Robert Morris, Utah State, Wake Forest, and Western Kentucky all graduated 100% of their players black and white. You cannot explain away that kind of variation by reference to the usual suspects. The institutions and coaches have to play a role. There are too many coaches who care more about getting a student athlete out on the court in a uniform than about getting them in a cap and gown four years later."
"How can we protect men's basketball and football from abuses? Here are three ideas. First, slow down. Right now, coaches can make scholarship offers to elite athletes in eighth-grade. One fan web site joked that coaches would soon be making college offers to embryos. At a minimum, coaches should be obliged to wait to make offers until after the sophomore year of high school.... Second, boosting graduation rates should be part of a coach's job. I would suggest that teams with less than a 40% graduation rate be prohibited from post-season competition. Finally, it's time to re-empower coaches, but, at the same time, hold them to a higher standard of accountability. I would propose a grand bargain: when a program has a clean record and good outcomes, coaches should have more leeway to increase their contact with players in the offseason. We don't now cap the amount of time that a star violinist practices with the orchestra or the lab time of a budding scientist. But when programs show the wrong values and have terrible outcomes, coaches should be held personally responsible. They should be suspended, sanctioned, or barred. And if the coach jumps ship to a new team, the penalties should follow the coach rather than punishing innocent players left in their wake."
"It's time as well to reform the NBA's 'one-and-done' rule, which requires NBA recruits to 'attend' college for a year or be 19 before they are drafted. One-and-done is a mockery of college education.... Major league baseball has a much better system. Baseball allows players to be drafted straight out of high school. But if a high school baseball player is not drafted and heads for college, they cannot be drafted again until after their third year. If college men's basketball adopted a similar system, a handful of budding basketball superstars... could jump directly to the NBA. But, the vast majority of players would go on to college and get some education and maturity under their belt before they contemplate going pro."
On January 15, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 81st birthday, Secretary Duncan challenged a full house of 1,000 students at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (where Dr. King and his father served as pastors) to realize King's vision through education. "Freedom is the ability to think and to pursue your own path, and only education can give you that freedom," he explained. "If Dr. King were here today, he would call on a new generation of leaders to build upon his work by doing the most important thing each of you can do: get an education, learn to think, learn to compete, and learn to win." The Secretary also cited the work of the Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which enforces federal civil rights laws that protect the nation's more than 69 million elementary, secondary, and postsecondary students from disability, race, national origin, gender, and age discrimination; provides technical assistance to education institutions to help them understand their civil rights responsibilities; and provides outreach and technical assistance to students, parents, and other advocates to inform them of their rights under the law. "In recent years, this office has not been as aggressive as it should be. But that is about to change," he asserted. This year, OCR will broaden its data collection process to spotlight inequity around issues such as student discipline, distribution of effective teachers, and access to rigorous curriculum. This new information will help shape the Obama Administration's education equity agenda.
H1N1 Flu Virus
Students who have not yet been vaccinated against the H1N1 flu virus should do so, and all children under 10-years-old should receive a second dose of the vaccine so as to be fully protected against the virus and prevent further outbreaks of the flu. To underscore this message, Secretary Duncan joined Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin at a working vaccination clinic at Carlin Springs Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia. Arlington public schools and the Arlington County Public Health Division are working together to supply nearly 12,000 students with H1N1 vaccinations at in-school clinics like the one at Carlin Springs.
Note: The Flu Vaccine Locator identifies where to get vaccinated by state and zip code.
Odds and Ends
A new Department video offers tips to help students get started completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
In December 2009, Secretary Duncan visited Samuel Gompers Middle School in Los Angeles. He saw a school with many challenges and a great deal of diversity. Students wrote him following his visit, asking a number of questions, and the Secretary responded.
The latest issue of the Institute of Education Sciences' (IES) "Education Research News" features an overview of ARRA evaluation activities, research highlights, Director John Easton's goals, and an interview with the director of the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Initiative.
The Department's Teaching American History (TAH) grant competition is seeking help to review TAH grant applications. The anticipated grant review dates are April and May 2010. You may serve as a reviewer if you meet at least one of the following criteria: a degree in history; K-12 history teacher; history professor; TAH grant director; TAH grant partner; history scholar; other history-related professional; professional development provider; or evaluator/evaluation specialist. If you are interested, please email your abbreviated resume to Yianni Alepohoritis (Yianni.Alepohoritis@ed.gov) or Adam Bookman (Adam.Bookman@ed.gov) by February 12. If selected, you will serve on a panel with two other reviewers, reviewing about 10 applications; an honorarium is given per application.
Since 2007, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have cooperated to foster the development of students' skills in science, technology, engineering, and math. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two agencies supports the FAA's mission to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world and NASA's mission to pioneer space exploration, scientific discovery, and core aeronautics research. The MOU's initial focus is on a NASA curriculum called "Smart Skies," an online air traffic control simulator for students in fifth- through ninth-grades. It is designed to offer an exciting way to learn the math skills central to air traffic control while providing multiple modes of problem solving for students who learn in different ways. All materials are free and available online.
Quote to Note
"Even before states have received a single dime of [Race to the Top] taxpayer money, many of them have committed to instituting important reforms to better position themselves for a Race to the Top grant.... So, by rewarding some of these states submitting applications today, by extending the Race to the Top for states, by launching a Race to the Top among districts, and by applying the principles of Race to the Top to other federal programs, we'll build on this success. We're going to raise the bar for all our students and take bigger steps towards closing the achievement gap that denies so many students, especially black and Latino students, a fair shot at their dreams."
|||President Barack Obama (1/19/2010), proposing continuation and expansion of Race to the Top|
President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address on January 27 and release his FY 2011 budget on February 1.
The Department's Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools (OSDFS) is planning a National Meeting on Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Violence Prevention in Higher Education in 2010. The meeting will include a comprehensive agenda designed to respond to the current needs on college campuses. Details will be posted online, as they become available. (Note: Please send topics or ideas for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
February 3-6, the Department will exhibit at the National Association of Bilingual Education's Conference in Denver. If you are attending this event, please stop by the Department's booth.
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