NEWSLETTERS
October 15, 2010 ED Review
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 October 15, 2010
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Bullying Must Stop
Safe and Healthy Schools
Community Colleges Summit
Labor-Management Collaboration
Alternate Assessments
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Bullying Must Stop

Last week, Secretary Duncan issued a statement on the recent deaths of two students.

"This week, we sadly lost two young men who took their own lives for one unacceptable reason: they were being bullied and harassed because they were openly gay, or believed to be gay. These unnecessary tragedies come on the heels of at least three other young people taking their own lives because the trauma of being bullied and harassed for their actual or perceived sexual orientation was too much to bear. This is a moment where every one of us—parents, teachers, students, elected officials, and all people of conscience—needs to stand up and speak out against intolerance, in all its forms. Whether it's students harassing other students because of ethnicity, disability, and religion or an adult, public official harassing the President of the University of Michigan student body because he is gay, it is time we as a country said enough. No more. This must stop."

A reminder: BullyingInfo.org is a "one-stop" site for parents, educators, and community members seeking federal resources on bringing bullying to an end.

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Safe and Healthy Schools

The Department has awarded $38.8 million in Safe and Supportive Schools grants to 11 states to measure school safety at the building level and to help intervene in those schools with the greatest safety needs. The goal of these grants is to create and support safe and drug-free learning environments and to increase academic success for students in these high-risk schools. Funds may be used by the states to develop measurement systems to assess conditions for learning within individual schools, to make this information publicly available, and to implement interventions that address problems identified by the data.

The Department has also awarded $36.8 million in Carol M. White Physical Education Program grants to 77 school districts and community organizations to initiate, expand, and improve physical education programs for students in grades K-12. Recipients must implement initiatives that help students make progress toward meeting their state standards for physical education. Recipients may provide equipment and core support for students to participate in physical education activities, as well as training for teachers and staff.

And, in a related act at the direction of the President, the Departments of Education and Justice officially launched the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, along with participating localities and other federal agencies. At a recent working session, teams from the cities of Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis (TN), Salinas (CA), and San Jose (CA) met with federal officials and each other to share experience and information about what works in preventing youth and gang violence. Participating cities have pledged to develop or enhance comprehensive plans to prevent youth and gang violence in their city, using multi-disciplinary partnerships, balanced approaches, and data-driven strategies.

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Community Colleges Summit

On October 5, Dr. Jill Biden hosted the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges, bringing together community colleges, business, philanthropy, federal and state policymakers, faculty, and students to discuss how community colleges can help meet the education and job training needs of the nation's evolving workforce and the critical role these institutions play in achieving the President's goal of leading the world with the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020. "For years, I have said that community colleges are one of America's best-kept secrets," Dr. Biden noted in her opening remarks. "Well, with the President shining a light on us, I think that secret is out.... Community colleges are uniquely American, places where anyone who walks through the door is one step closer to realizing the American Dream. These schools are flexible and innovative. For that reason, many around the world are looking at community colleges as a model to increase workforce preparedness and college graduation among their own citizens." President Obama then emphasized the Administration's commitment to community colleges in his own remarks. "Last year, I promised that we would end wasteful subsidies to big banks for students loans and, instead, use that money to make college more affordable and to make a historic investment in community colleges," he stated. "We passed those reforms [known as the American Graduation Initiative], and, today, we're using this money towards the interest of higher education in America. This is helping us modernize community colleges at a critical time, because many of these schools are under pressure to cut costs and cap enrollments and scrap classes, even as the demand has soared. It's going to make it possible for colleges to better harness technology within the classroom and beyond. And, it's going to promote reform, as colleges compete for funds by improving graduation rates, matching courses to the needs of local businesses, and making sure that when a graduate is handed a diploma it means that he or she is ready for a career." (On the summit's web site, one can download fact sheets and a toolkit, read Dr. Biden's and the President's full speeches, and watch the opening and closing sessions.)

"This event is a moment to both celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of community colleges and to take stock of and action on the challenges that lie ahead," Secretary Duncan offered in his remarks. "Working with modest resources, community colleges now educate almost half of all college students. And, about half of all first-generation college students and minority students attend community colleges. It is a remarkable record. No other system of higher education in the world does so much to provide access and second-chance opportunities as our community colleges." Yet, he continued, there is work to be done. "Today, only one in four community college students earns a certificate or degree, or successfully transfers to universities. That has to change if our nation, our communities, and our students are to thrive and remain competitive in the knowledge economy." Concluding, he sees "two great challenges ahead." First, community colleges need to address the needs of older adults with limited college experience who are finding it increasingly difficult to find meaningful work in the information age. Second, there needs to be a systematic reorienting of the preK-16 system so that federal, state, district, and postsecondary programs do more to support earning a certificate or degree.

On the eve of the summit, at the start of a meeting of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, President Obama announced a new initiative to improve industry partnerships with community colleges. The Skills for America's Future will match up private employers with community colleges in every state to develop curricula and programs that will prepare graduates to excel in the workforce. The initiative already has the commitment of leaders, such as Walter Issacson (CEO of the Aspen Institute) and Penny Pritzker (CEO of Pritzker Realty Group), to advance this effort, and leading companies, such as Accenture, Gap, McDonald's, PG&E, and United Technologies, have already agreed to participate.

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Labor-Management Collaboration

This week, at an event celebrating collaboration and resulting education reforms in Hillsborough County, Florida, Secretary Duncan, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten, and National Education Association (NEA) President Dennis Van Roekel announced their plans to convene a national education conference regarding labor-management collaboration early next year, to highlight progressive collective bargaining agreements across the country and promote opportunities for labor and management to forge reforms at the state and district level. The gathering will include the participation of national, state, and local union leadership, as well as school superintendents and school boards throughout the nation. Some recent examples of progressive labor-management agreements are New Haven (CT), Denver, Delaware, Evansville (IN), Baltimore, Montgomery County (MD), Detroit, and Pittsburgh (PA).

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Alternate Assessments

One month after awarding Race to the Top Assessment program grants for general state assessments, the Department awarded grants to two consortia of states to develop a new generation of alternate state assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The new assessments will be designed for a wide range of students with such disabilities and aligned with the common set of college- and career-ready standards that were worked out by governors and Chief State School Officers and have been adopted by 36 states and the District of Columbia. They will assess knowledge of reading and math in grades 3-8 and one grade in high school. The grants were awarded to the National Center and State Collaborative Partnership, a consortium of 18 states, the District of Columbia, and Pacific Rim territories led by the University of Minnesota, and the Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment System Consortium, a group of 11 states led by the University of Kansas. Assessments should be ready for use by the 2014-15 school year.

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Odds and Ends

  • The Department has released a new video on Forest Heights Academy of Excellence in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, an award-winning public magnet school combining the art of learning with the learning of art. Students have the opportunity to study visual arts, instrumental music, vocal music, dance, and drama. Students also learn language, math, science, and social studies through their study of the arts.

  • On October 2, Secretary Duncan addressed the American Bar Association's (ABA) Litigation Section, encouraging the attorneys "to think ambitiously about the role of litigators in public education. Serve your clients ably. But, respond to the higher calling of the law to address injustice and inequality."

  • Earlier, the Departments of Education and Justice reached an important settlement agreement with Boston Public Schools to ensure that the English language learners who attend local schools will no longer be denied language support services based on a system that did not accurately assess or provide for their needs.

  • On October 12, Secretary Duncan was in New Salem, North Dakota, to watch as students attended an anatomy class where a lead instructor teaches students in five schools, at once, using satellite TV. This is one way New Salem-Almont High School is using technology to overcome distance and boost access to quality instruction. The video technology empowers the different classrooms to see and hear one another, and students can interact with the teacher and each other.

  • How about some more higher education grants? The Department has awarded roughly $141 million to states to bolster college access and completion, some $18 million to institutions to expand their capacity to serve low-income students, and, following awards to both Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and American Indian Tribal Colleges and Universities, some $85 million to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to strengthen their facilities and programs to improve education for students.

  • Also, the Department awarded $19 million to help Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loan servicers retain and redeploy workers for new jobs.

  • In addition, the Department awarded the Tennessee Department of Education a $1.7 million grant to develop, implement, and evaluate middle and high school personal finance instructional materials and teacher training.

  • A behind-the-scenes video shows President Obama meeting with students from the education documentary "Waiting for Superman."

  • The Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS) web site offers informative resources for the adult education and literacy community. Visit this site to access all of the publications and resources released by the National Institute for Literacy (NIFL), view archives of webcasts, and find many other helpful resources for adult and family literacy programs.

  • ScienceEducation.gov represents unification of federal agencies' science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational content, supporting both cyber-learning and open participation.

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Quote to Note

"We have never before had more examples of success of community colleges boosting transfer and graduation rates with a certificate or degree; of schools building partnerships with industry that lead to real jobs; and of effective remedial instruction and online learning. But, our students and nation need success to be the norm, not a sometimes-thing. In the years ahead, the overarching aim for community colleges must be dramatically boosting college completion and success. This is not about tinkering. It's about transformation. This is not just about getting more students to enroll. It's about getting more students to graduation day. To meet the President's 2020 goal, we project all institutions of higher education will need to increase their college attainment numbers by 50% over the next decade."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (10/5/10), at the White House Summit on Community Colleges

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Upcoming Events

On Monday (October 18), the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics will hold a National Education Summit, bringing together Administration officials and national Hispanic education, business, and community leaders to share their expertise and resources to assist communities in expanding education opportunities and improving education outcomes for Hispanic students. If you are in or near Washington, D.C., that day, there is still time to register to attend the summit in-person. If you are out of town, you can watch the summit live. Then, on Tuesday, October 19, President Obama will sign a new executive order to renew the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. The signing ceremony will be broadcast live.

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is the highest honor a K-12 math or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the U.S. The President officially names up to 108 teachers annually. Awards alternate between elementary and secondary teachers—with secondary teachers eligible in 2011—and are given to teachers from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the outlying territories, and the Department of Defense schools. The deadline for nominations is April 1.

Next week, the Department will exhibit at the National Future Farmers of America Convention in Indianapolis (October 20-23) and send materials to the Council of the Great City Schools' Fall Conference in Tampa (October 20-24). If you are attending either of these events, please stop by the Department's booth or pick-up materials.

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Last Modified: 10/19/2010