NEWSLETTERS
April 30, 2010 ED Review
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 April 30, 2010
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Strengthening Title IX
ARRA Outreach
Teacher of the Year
AAPI Initiative
Financial Capability
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Strengthening Title IX

On April 20, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary Duncan, and Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Chairwoman of the White House Council on Women and Girls, announced that the Administration had issued a "Dear Colleague" letter that withdraws a 2005 interpretation of Title IX policy. Enacted in 1972, Title IX mandates that any educational institution receiving federal aid for programs and activities cannot discriminate on the basis of sex. For several decades, the Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has provided three options to determine whether athletic programs at schools comply with Title IX: (1) match the proportion of female athletes to the proportion of women on campus; (2) show a history and continuing practice of increasing sports for women; (3) or prove the school has met the interest and ability of women to participate in athletics. Under the third option, the 2005 ruling allowed schools to use a survey to prove a lack of athletic interest. The "Dear Colleague" letter clarifies that OCR requires schools to use multiple indicators to assess athletic interests and abilities and does not consider survey results, alone, to be sufficient evidence to justify an imbalance in women's sports. The letter also offers recommendations for effective procedures for collecting, maintaining, and evaluating information on students' interests and abilities, including technical assistance on the non-discriminatory design and implementation of surveys as one indicator among others. (Note: Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali's blog entry includes links to OCR's reading room [which has the letter and questions and answers], a fact sheet, and Secretary Duncan's remarks.)

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ARRA Outreach

Today, the Department officially launched the Promise Neighborhoods program, the first federal initiative to put education at the center of comprehensive efforts to fight poverty in both urban and rural areas. The $10 million in grants available this fiscal year will support non-profit organizations with one-year of funding to plan for the implementation of cradle-to-career services designed to improve educational outcomes for students within distressed neighborhoods. "The Promise Neighborhoods program brings all of the Department's strategies together—high-quality early learning programs, high-quality schools, and comprehensive supports—to ensure that students are safe, healthy, and successful, Secretary Duncan said. "These services must be comprehensive, and they must put education at the center." This program is based on the experience of programs such as the Harlem Children's Zone, which serves a nearly 100-block area in New York City and has boosted student outcomes dramatically. The Department intends to make up to 20 planning grants, ranging between $400,000 and $500,000, with applications due June 25. Today's release of applications for planning grants is just the first step in a multi-year process. President Obama's Fiscal Year 2011 budget proposal includes $210 million for five-year implementation grants and more one-year planning grants. (Note: In support, the Department's Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) will conduct several webinars. Registration is required.)

The Department has posted slides from last week's technical assistance workshops in Minneapolis for both the Race to the Top State Competition and the Race to the Top Assessment Program.

Applicants for the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund will find new resources online to assist them with the application process, including archived informational webinars, application tips, additional addenda to the Frequently Asked Questions, an overview of the matching requirement, a revised application package (with a more user-friendly version of the required Applicant Information Sheet, as well as a notice of the new closing date: May 12), and a paper on evidence and evaluation requirements and selection criteria.

Also, 12 national foundations have committed $500 million in 2010 to leverage the Department's $650 million i3 Fund aimed at similarly aligned investments, making more than $1 billion available to help expand promising innovations in education. The foundations' investments are a continuation of long-standing efforts to foster the education innovation sector. Those efforts include programs that revamp educator training, spur integrated technology tools for teaching and learning, and create capacity for alternative high schools. While each foundation will maintain independence in determining which programs to fund, the combined resources available to non-profit organizations, state and local education agencies, traditional public schools, and public charter schools will catalyze and grow cutting-edge ideas.

In the next couple of months, the Department's Risk Management Service (RMS) will be coordinating a second series of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) technical assistance webinars. Information and registration for the 2010 RMS series will be posted shortly. Meanwhile, an ARRA webinar schedule, with links to archived ARRA webinars, is available online.

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Teacher of the Year

On April 29, in a Rose Garden ceremony with President Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, and Secretary Duncan, high school language arts teacher Sarah Brown Wessling of Iowa was named the 2010 National Teacher of the Year. A National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)-certified teacher and an 11-year veteran of teaching, Wessling is chairwoman of Johnston High School's English Department. She is the 60th recipient of the award. The National Teacher of the Year program—a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers sponsored by the ING Foundation—designates an outstanding representative from among the 56 State Teachers of the Year (representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, outlying territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity). The winner is selected by a panel of 15 leading national education organizations.

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AAPI Initiative

In advance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders recently announced the Administration's efforts to improve the lives of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities underserved by federal resources. The Initiative will collaborate with agency officials and community leaders in roundtable discussions on education opportunities, employment issues, and health disparities. Experts with hands-on experience will advise federal agencies on critical issues and share innovative models of proven practices. (Note: AAPI key facts and figures and a summary of critical issues facing AAPIs are posted online.)

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Financial Capability

This week, at an event hosted at the Treasury, the Departments of Education and Treasury recognized high scoring students in the National Financial Capability Challenge. The Challenge, which was unveiled in December, is designed to increase the financial knowledge and capability of high school-aged youth. Over 76,000 high school students and 2,500 educators across the country participated in the Challenge. Scores were generally low. Participants scored 70% on average, demonstrating that students are not yet achieving the grade when it comes to understanding how to manage money. Idaho, South Dakota, and Wyoming had the highest average scores, and Iowa, Virginia, and Wisconsin had the highest student participation rates. The greatest number of participating schools and teachers were from Pennsylvania. To build on the progress made with this year's Challenge, Secretary Duncan and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner set a goal of increasing student participation, by 15% next year. Also, recognizing that participation averaged only one teacher per school, they urged this year's participating teachers to become ambassadors for financial education and recruit teachers to participate next year. And, they committed to tracking and recognizing year-to-year improvements among schools. (Note: An op-ed regarding the Challenge, penned by Secretary Duncan, Secretary Geithner, and Valerie Garrett, is available online.)

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Odds and Ends

  • Secretary Duncan answered questions about standardized assessments and the cost of college, among other topics, at an education town hall meeting in Atlanta sponsored by CNN.

  • Last week, the Secretary addressed the Council for Exceptional Children's annual convention. "Virtually everyone professes to believe that all children deserve a world-class education," he stated. "Yet, today, a significant gap between our aspirations and reality persists. And here is the harder, unspoken truth: subtle, unexpressed prejudices and lingering roadblocks still prevent children with disabilities from receiving the world-class education they deserve."

  • The Department, U.S. Secret Service, and Federal Bureau of Investigation have released a study of targeted violence incidents on U.S. campuses of higher learning. Overall, 272 incidents were identified through a comprehensive search of nearly 115,000 results in open source reporting from 1990 to 2008. The findings are pertinent and far-reaching, and incidents studied include all kinds of targeted violence, ranging from domestic violence to serial killers.

  • "Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools: Fall 2008," prepared by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), presents new data on the availability and use of educational technology, including information on computer hardware and Internet access, the availability of staff to help integrate technology into instruction and provide timely technical support, and perceptions of educational technology issues at the school and district level.

  • Later this spring, the Department will invite public comment on proposed rules that would require postsecondary career and vocational programs to prepare students for "gainful employment" in a recognized occupation in order to be eligible for federal grants and loans.

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Quote to Note

"I was deeply saddened by the passing of Dorothy Height. Dr. Height understood that the civil rights movement started at the schoolhouse door. During the civil rights movement, she organized women of many races and faiths to support the freedom schools in Mississippi. She maintained her commitment to education by working closely with several of my predecessors in efforts to increase parental involvement in schools and close the achievement gap. President Obama and I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our time. Today, we lost a great partner in our work to reform schools."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (4/20/10), in a statement on the passing of Dr. Dorothy Height

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Upcoming Events

The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services will hold two more Listening and Learning About Early Learning meetings next month.

Over the next two weeks, the Department will exhibit for National Public Service Recognition Week on the National Mall (May 6-8) and for the Joint Services Open House at Andrews Air Force Base (May 14-16). If you are attending either of these events, please stop by the Department's booth.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

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Director, Intergovernmental Affairs—Stacey Jordan, (202) 401-0026, Stacey.Jordan@ed.gov
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Last Modified: 06/03/2010