NEWSLETTERS
January 21, 2011 ED Review
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 January 21, 2011
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Statement on Tucson Shootings
Education Stakeholders Forum
National Youth Summit
Local School Events
School Nutrition Standards
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Statement on Tucson Shootings

Secretary Duncan issued the following statement on the tragic shootings in Arizona.

"The tragedy in Tucson leaves me sick with grief and sadness. A dedicated Congresswoman, a respected federal judge, and a curious nine-year-old girl interested in public service are among the victims not only of a deranged madman but also of a society that too often shirks responsibility for our collective safety. My heart goes out to the victims and their families."

First Lady Michelle Obama also released an open letter to parents, noting that this tragedy provides "an opportunity... to teach some valuable lessons—about the character of our country, about the values we hold dear, and about finding hope at a time when it seems far away.... We can teach [our children] the value of tolerance—the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us. We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom we disagree."

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Education Stakeholders Forum

On Monday, January 24, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time, the Department's Office of Communications and Outreach (OCO) will host its first Education Stakeholders Forum of the new year. The Secretary will outline the Department's legislative and programmatic priorities for 2011, and senior officials will provide the latest information on the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program and a new initiative for sharing state data profiles. As with previous forums, the meeting will take place at the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C. However, in an effort to make the information shared readily available, the Department will also be live streaming this forum. No registration is necessary for the live streaming.

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National Youth Summit

President Obama has set a goal that, by 2020, the U.S. will lead the world in college completion. Over the summer, the Department conducted a National Youth Listening Tour to engage youth in a conversation on what it will take to meet the President's goal. Senior officials met with over 1,800 middle and high school students and 40 youth-serving institutions from across the country. To close the tour, the Department will host a "Voices in Action: National Youth Summit" on Saturday, February 26, in Washington, D.C. This will be no ordinary conference. There will be DJs, spoken word artists, marching bands, and art. And, there will be an opportunity for students to present their best ideas on meeting the President's goal with youth, policymakers, and partner organizations. Space is limited, so register early, or organize your own watch party to view the live webcast of the summit.

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Local School Events

Recently, Secretary Duncan has been spending time in District of Columbia public schools. On January 6, he met for the first time with a coalition of new education leaders, including the city's new mayor, new state superintendent, interim chancellor, and new teacher union president, and held a discussion with students, parents, and teachers at Sousa Middle School. While the event was organized to kick-off the new semester, most of the dialogue served as a celebration of the accomplishments at Sousa. Over the last two years, Sousa has grown reading scores by 30 points and math scores by 18 points. The school has succeeded by setting the bar high for students and educators. Faculty work long hours and offer Saturday school sessions for all students—regardless of achievement level. Next, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 17), a day of service, the Secretary and his family participated in City Year's service project at Kramer Middle School. City Year organizes young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service. As tutors, mentors, and role models, they help students stay in school and on track and transform schools and communities throughout the country. Then, just yesterday (January 20), Secretary Duncan joined Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to discuss initiatives the Administration has undertaken to make college more affordable for all Americans with students from Wilson High School, temporarily housed on the campus of the University of the District of Columbia. For example, since 2009, the American Opportunity Tax Credit, a partially refundable credit of up to $2,500 a year for four years of college, has helped cover the cost of tuition and other education-related expenses. This year alone, an estimated 9.4 million students will receive this benefit.

Also, on January 19, the Secretary delivered remarks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Winter Meeting at the Capital Hilton Hotel. This year's meeting focused on both job creation and improving the economy. The Secretary addressed the critical role mayors play in improving the education system and the role that education plays in promoting economic growth.

In addition, on January 20, the Secretary spoke at the Aspen Institute's Education Innovation Forum and Expo. This unique forum capitalized on the momentum created by the Department's Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund to push for creating and sustaining innovation in public education. Aspen invited 212 non-profit organizations, school districts, and other i3 applicants who nearly made the cut to apply for a slot at the event. 112 applied, and 55 were selected. Aspen also invited 50 innovative projects outside of the i3 pool.

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School Nutrition Standards

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has published a proposed rule to update the nutrition standards for meals served through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The proposed rule, which is based on recommendations by the National Academies' Institute of Medicine, would add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat milk into school meals. Schools would also be required to limit the levels of calories, saturated fat and trans fat, and sodium in meals. A comparison of the nutrition standards can be found online. Public comments on the proposed rule will be accepted through April 13. (A reminder: helping improve the health and nutrition of nearly 32 million children who participate in school meal programs every day is an important component of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to solve the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation.)

Note: On the issue of regulations, the Education Department is also currently seeking public comment on adding development of English proficiency tests, based on the Common Core state standards, as a priority to the Enhanced Assessment Instruments program and revising the priorities, requirements, and selection criteria of the i3 Fund.

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Odds and Ends

  • A new Department publication, "Does Your Child Need a Fresh Start?," describes, in plain language, the main features of the SIG program (including the four intervention models) and what parents and community members can do to help their local school districts make the most of available SIG funds. It is available in both English and Spanish.

  • In a new video, Secretary Duncan talks about the importance of early childhood education and calls on parents and citizens to get involved and be "part of the solution."

  • The "new normal" was the subject of a conversation for school leaders between Secretary Duncan and National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) Executive Director Gerald Tirozzi. Dr. Tirozzi was interviewing the Secretary for NASSP's radio show. The conversation centered on the tough choices that school leaders are being forced to make in the face of reduced funding levels for education.

  • The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a solicitation for applications under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program. The agency will award about $500 million this year through the program and a total of $2 billion over the next four years. Grants will support the development and improvement of postsecondary programs—of two years or less—that use evidence-based or innovative strategies to prepare students for careers in growing and emerging industries.

  • The King Legacy of Service 25th Anniversary video, produced by the Corporation for National and Community Service, tells the story of how the MLK Day holiday has evolved into a nationwide day of service that brings Americans together to solve community problems.

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Quote to Note

"The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. guided us toward a mountaintop on which all Americans—regardless of skin color—could live together in mutual respect and brotherhood. His bold leadership and prophetic eloquence united people of all backgrounds in a noble quest for freedom and basic civil rights. Inspired by Dr. King's legacy, brave souls have marched fearlessly, organized relentlessly, and devoted their lives to the unending task of perfecting our Union.... But we must recognize their achievements as milestones on the long path to true equal opportunity and equal rights. We must face the challenges of today with the same strength, persistence, and determination exhibited by Dr. King, guided by the enduring values of hope and justice embodied by other civil rights leaders. As a nation, we must expand access to opportunity and end structural inequalities for all people in employment and economic mobility. It is our collective responsibility as a great nation to ensure a foundation that supports economic security for all and also extends the founding promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to every American."

        President Barack Obama (1/14/11), in a proclamation commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

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Upcoming Events

On January 25, the Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), will release results from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in science for students in grades 4, 8, and 12.

The Department will be conducting two technical assistance webinars for agency grantees and subgrantees this February. The first, on February 14 (2:00-3:30 p.m. ET), will focus on discretionary grants administration. The second, on February 22 (2:00-3:30 p.m. ET), will focus on internal control. Registration is required for both webinars.

The Department will exhibit at the National Title I Conference in Tampa, Florida (January 31-February 3). If you are attending this event, 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
Program Analyst—Adam Honeysett, (202) 401-3003, Adam.Honeysett@ed.gov
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Last Modified: 01/25/2011