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April 29, 2011 ED Review
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 April 29, 2011
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What's inside...
On the Road
Promise Neighborhoods
Recognition Programs
Find What Works
Student Health Care
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

On the Road

Secretary Duncan spent the majority of the last two weeks on the road, discussing the Administration's priorities, encouraging reform, and highlighting successes:

  • On April 15, the Secretary was in Indianapolis to address the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and join Governor Mitch Daniels and Mayor Greg Ballard for an education town hall summit. "We often find ourselves on the opposite side of some issues," he said at the summit, "but I always come back to our 'common agenda.' We all want great schools for our children. We all want a stronger, more secure America. And, we know that education is the key to our future.... So, I would like everyone to take a risk, demonstrate real leadership and courage, and to step outside their comfort zones, including management, unions, and elected officials."
  • On April 19, the Secretary discussed the Department's vision for career and technical education during a meeting of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium. "For too long, CTE has been a neglected part of the reform movement," he asserted. "But focusing more attention on CTE also means committing to increased innovation, rigor, and results. At a time when local, state, and federal governments are all facing tremendous budget pressure, advocates must make a compelling case for continued funding."
  • One day later, the Secretary visited New Jersey, meeting with Governor Chris Christine, participating in a TEACH Campaign event with Congressman Donald Payne and Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and delivering remarks at Princeton University. He also penned an op-ed for the university's student newspaper, praising Princeton's contributions to education reform but urging the school to do more to prepare teachers.
  • Next, on April 21, before a public meeting of the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability hosted at the Department, Secretary Duncan and Treasury Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin recognized high-performing students in the 2010-11 National Financial Capability Challenge. Nationally, more than 84,000 high school students and 2,500 educators from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the Department of Defense schools, participated in the Challenge. Students who scored in the top 20% nationwide and those who were leading scorers in their school will receive official award certificates.
  • Then, on April 25, the Secretary and W. Steven Barnett of Rutgers University's National Institute for Early Education Research discussed "The State of Preschool 2010." This annual report ranks states on quality standards, access, and funding to state preschool programs. For the first time since tracking began (in 2002), this year's report shows a decrease in total spending. "Cutting investments in high-quality early childhood programs is counterproductive," he noted during his remarks. "Cutting high-quality early childhood programs is inequitable, especially for disadvantaged children, and it damages our future economic competitiveness."
  • That same day, he spoke with high school students about the importance of arts education, commending them for their participation in the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities' Poetry Workshop at the Library of Congress.
  • Two days later, the Secretary joined Dr. Jill Biden, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, and Undersecretary of Education Martha Kanter at the Community College Virtual Symposium. This event capped a series of regional summits, presenting findings on four issues: using bridge programs to address skill gaps for adults who desire a higher credential; aligning secondary and postsecondary education; improving the effectiveness of developmental education to meet the diverse needs of learners; and establishing partnerships between employers and community colleges that align curriculum and instruction with workplace realities.
  • Lastly, on April 27, Secretary Duncan and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano traveled to St. Louis for a public earthquake drill with Congressman Russ Carnahan and Governor Jay Nixon and a roundtable discussion with students at St. Louis Community College.
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Promise Neighborhoods

Speaking at a D.C. Promise Neighborhood Initiative town hall, the Secretary announced $30 million for a second round of Promise Neighborhoods grants to be divided between a new set of planning grants and implementation grants. The application process will be revealed in the coming weeks, with a 60-day deadline from the date the application is released. Winners will be selected no later than December 31. Last year, the Department awarded $10 million to 21 applicants (both non-profit organizations and institutions of higher education) for their efforts to support one-year planning of cradle-to-career services designed to improve educational outcomes for students within distressed neighborhoods. The competition was intense, with 339 applications from more than 300 communities across 48 states and the District of Columbia.

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Recognition Programs

At a ceremony planting an oak tree at the Department's Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) headquarters building—the same tree that is depicted in the agency's seal, delivered from LBJ's home state of Texas by 2009 Teaching Ambassador Fellow Jose Rodriguez—the Secretary introduced the Green Ribbon Schools program. This new award program will recognize schools that are establishing healthy and sustainable learning environments and teaching environmental literacy. An application will be issued later this year, with the initial group of Green Ribbon Schools named next year.

Under the new Challenge to Innovate (C2i) initiative, the Department and the National Education Association (NEA) Foundation have invited educators and other creative thinkers to offer solutions about how to use mobile phone technology to "transform teaching and learning." The NEA Foundation will award up to five individuals $1,000 for the best ideas posted on the Department's Open Innovation Portal. Submissions will be accepted until May 13.

The Aspen Institute has ranked the nation's 120 best community colleges—the top 10% in the U.S.—and challenged them to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Each of the 120 colleges has demonstrated high standards for learning, college completion without delay, and community colleges as training grounds for jobs that pay competitive wages, making them eligible for the prize. Prize winners will be announced in December 2011.

Also, yesterday (April 28), President Obama named 85 teachers as recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

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Find What Works

Looking for a better way to find curricula, products, and practices? Check out the new and improved What Works Clearinghouse search feature: Find What Works. This powerful tool makes it easy to find out exactly what rigorous research says about the effectiveness of more than 100 widely used education interventions. Interventions may be searched by outcome, grade level, population, effectiveness, extent of evidence, program type, and delivery method.

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Student Health Care

In related letters to college and university presidents and student body presidents, Secretary Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius launched a new outreach effort to help educate graduating seniors about their new health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act. Under the law, many young adults will be eligible to stay on their parents' health insurance plan until their 26th birthday. The letters outline several ways college officials and student leaders can reach out to graduating students, including posting a new "badge" on their web site that automatically links to information about how students can stay on their parents' health insurance plan.

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Odds and Ends

  • "Report to Congress on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) State-Reported Data for School Years 2003-04 to 2007-08" provides a variety of snapshots of state-reported data for five school years under the ESEA, including information on standards and assessment systems, student performance, English language acquisition, schools identified for improvement, public school choice and supplemental educational services, and highly qualified teachers.

  • Texas will receive $830.8 million under the Education Jobs Fund to create or retain education jobs.

  • According to a new report from the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, "Winning the Future: Improving Education for the Latino Community," Hispanic success in education and in the labor market is of both immediate and long‐term importance to America's economy.

  • Secretary Duncan asked the Council of Exceptional Children (CEC) to contact members and find out their most pressing questions. He answered those questions in a document released on opening day of the CEC's Annual Convention. Among other topics, he addressed pay-for-performance, inclusion, teacher accountability, and the development and support for universal design concepts.

  • Since the launch of ED Data Express, a tool for sharing state-level K-12 data, the Department has added new data through regular uploads. Last December, data was added on migrant students. In April, data was added on homeless students served through the McKinney-Vento Act. Updates will continue during the year.

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Quote to Note

"A robust body of evidence and research shows that high-quality early education programs help children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed in school and in life. The best way to close the achievement gap is to start young—by closing the opportunity gap. I want, once and for all, to get schools out of the catch-up business. Few investments have a bigger return to society than high-quality early childhood programs. These programs don't just improve academic achievement; they increase employment and earnings, and they reduce crime, delinquency, and teen parenthood later in life. All of which is why early childhood programs are so important to maintaining our international competitiveness."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (4/26/11), at the public release of "The State of Preschool 2010"

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Upcoming Events

Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2-6), and the Administration will be recognizing teachers in a number of ways, from Teacher of the Year festivities at the White House, the Department, and elsewhere in town to postings on ED.gov, where visitors are already being asked to thank teachers via video.

The Nation's Report Card in Civics for students in grades 4, 8, and 12 in 2010 will be released on May 4.

The Department's Equity and Excellence Commission is hosting a series of community outreach events, including town hall meetings today in Philadelphia and May 7 in Kansas City, Kansas. A complete list of meetings and events is available here. Also, video recordings of the first commission meeting and the town hall meeting in San Jose are posted here.

The last regional meeting in the Office of English Language Acquisition's series engaging stakeholders on what makes for quality education for English Learners was rescheduled to May 9 and 10, in New York City (main) and Charlotte (satellite). There is no registration fee. Participants may draw from state and local Title I and/or Title III funds (if available) to pay for their travel and lodging.

May 8-11, the Department will exhibit at the International Reading Association's Convention in Orlando. If you are attend this event, please stop by the Department's booth.

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Last Modified: 05/04/2011