NEWSLETTERS
March 9, 2012 ED Review
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 March 9, 2012
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President's Challenge: Invest in Education
ESEA Flexibility
Civil Rights Data Collection
Travel Log
TAA Grants
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

President's Challenge: Invest in Education

On February 27, in a meeting in the State Dining Room at the White House, President Obama challenged the nation's governors to ensure all students in their schools get the education they need to compete for the jobs of tomorrow. "Nothing more clearly signals what you value as a state as the decisions you make about where to invest," he asserted. "Budgets are about choices. So, today, I'm calling on you to choose to invest more in teachers; invest more in education; invest more in our children and their future. That doesn't mean you've got to invest in things that aren't working. That doesn't mean it doesn't make sense to break some china and move aggressively on reform. But, the fact of the matter is we don't have to choose between resources and reform. We need resources and reform." (Note: The President's "Education Blueprint: An Economy Built to Last" outlines a series of key proposals, including investing in K-12 education, helping students and families pay for college, and training workers for jobs in industries looking to hire.)

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ESEA Flexibility

Twenty-six states—Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin—and the District of Columbia have formally submitted requests for waivers from key provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). This adds to the 11 states—Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Tennessee—that the Administration announced last month had agreed to implement bold education reforms in exchange for flexibility. The 27 new waiver requests will be posted online, along with the names of the peer reviewers who will convene this month to review them. States will be notified about their requests later this spring. The Department expects additional states to request flexibility by September 6.

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Civil Rights Data Collection

The Department recently released Part 2 of 2009-10 the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). This survey covers about 7,000 school districts and over 72,000 schools and has been enhanced and made further accessible through additional data indicators and publicly available online tools for analysis. The data provides parents, educators, and policymakers with critical information to assist them in identifying inequalities and targeting solutions to close the persistent achievement gap in America.

Part 1, released in June 2011, included information on access to a rigorous sequence of college- and career-ready math and science courses, the number of first- and second-year teachers in schools, the number of high school counselors in schools, availability of early learning programs, districts operating under desegregation orders or plans, and whether districts have written policies prohibiting harassment and bullying. Part 2 includes detailed discipline data on in-school suspensions, referrals to law enforcement, and school-related arrests. It also provides a clear, comprehensive picture on college and career readiness, school finance, teacher absenteeism, student restraint and seclusion, and grade-level student retention.

Among the notable findings:

  • African-American students, particularly males, are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers. Black students represent 18% of the students in CRDC's sample but 35% of students suspended once, 46% of students suspended more than once, and 39% of students expelled.
  • Students learning English were 6% of the survey's high school enrollment but 12% of students retained.
  • Only 29% of high-minority high schools within diverse districts offered Calculus, compared to 55% of schools with the lowest African-American and Hispanic enrollment.
  • Teachers serving in high-minority schools were paid $2,251 less per year than their colleagues serving in low-minority schools in the same district.

"The power of the data is not only in the numbers themselves but in the impact it can have when married with the courage and the will to change," Secretary Duncan said at a Howard University event attended by civil rights and education reform groups. "The undeniable truth is the everyday educational experience for many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise. It is our collective duty to change that." For more information, please go to. (Note: To aid analysis, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a data summary.)

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Travel Log

Over the last two weeks, Secretary Duncan has traveled across the country and participated in a variety of announcements, roundtable discussions, and town hall meetings.

On February 24, he was in Orlando, Florida, for a town hall to announce Together for Tomorrow (TFT), a new initiative to highlight existing and spur new community engagement in turning around low-performing schools. TFT promotes a community culture where school improvement is viewed as everyone's responsibility. The hard work of skilled principals, teachers, and staff, in concert with dedicated parents, community organizations, and volunteers, is already achieving positive results at Orlando's Memorial Middle School and several other demonstration sites. During the coming weeks, the Department will launch the initiative with a series of town halls and community roundtables and with a national dialogue via Challenge.gov. In Orlando, the Secretary also joined a panel at the NBA Technology Summit, helped build a playground as part of NBA Cares' All-Star Day of Service, and played in the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game, leading his team to victory with 17 points, eight rebounds, and five steals. He noted on Twitter that while he felt good about the game, he did not feel good about the nation's dropout rate, where every 26 seconds (see the Secretary's uniform number) another student drops out of school.

On February 29, he was in Denver, Colorado, to give remarks at the Green Schools National Conference. He labeled the gathering of 1,500 educators "a coming of age moment for the green movement in our schools," declaring the movement had matured to the point that environmental concerns were no longer viewed as anything less than essential. And, he thanked attendees for their advocacy and support of the Department's new Green Ribbon Schools program. In Colorado, the Secretary also participated in a town hall spotlighting the state's education reforms in Denver and visited a unique preschool-postsecondary education campus in Aurora.

Currently, the Secretary is in Texas. Yesterday, in Austin, he spoke at the second annual SXSWedu conference, a convening of educators and business, industry, and policy leaders on modernizing teaching and learning. He also hosted back-to-back college affordability town halls: first at Austin Community College and then at San Antonio's Café College. Today, in San Antonio, he will give the keynote address at the White House Hispanic Community Action Summit. This summit is the latest in a series of regional meetings nationwide that offer an opportunity for Administration officials to interact with members of the Hispanic community on a range of issues.

Also, on March 2, the Secretary joined the mayors and school leaders of New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago for the "Education Now: Cities at the Forefront of Reform" forum. NBC's Andrea Mitchell, host of MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," moderated the forum and engaged the group in a dialogue about education successes and challenges. The Secretary and local leaders discussed tough accountability, strengthening the teaching profession, and the importance of school leadership.

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TAA Grants

Last month, at Davidson County Community College in Thomasville, North Carolina—the final stop on Dr. Jill Biden's and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis' three-day Community College to Career Bus Tour—Vice President Biden announced that the Administration is making another $500 million available to create and expand innovate partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train workers with the skills employers need. This funding is part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Community College and Career Training Grant Program. Community colleges can apply for these grants now, and, later this year, the Department of Labor, working with the Department of Education, will make new awards. The resources provided by these grants will enable eligible institutions of higher education to team up with businesses to expand and improve education and career training programs that can be completed in two years or less and are suited for TAA-eligible workers and other adults. The TAA program complements the President's broader agenda of helping every American complete at least a year of postsecondary education.

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Odds and Ends

  • The Department has opened the third year of the Investing in Innovation (i3) grant competition for districts, groups of schools, and non-profit organizations to improve student results through innovative practices. This competition invites entities interested in grants of up to $3 million—termed "development grants"—to submit a simplified pre-application through April 9. The agency also included a new absolute priority in the competition focused on improving parent and family engagement. (Note: Applications for "validation grants" and "scale-up grants" will be announced in separate notices in the coming weeks.)

  • While the Department has effectively ensured access to educational resources for students with disabilities, not enough attention has been paid to student outcomes. This is partly due to the fact that federal policy has focused more on procedural requirements than on critical indicators like increasing academic performance or graduation rates for students with disabilities. Throughout the coming year, the agency will work closely with stakeholders to develop and implement a new review system that takes a better balanced, results-driven approach to assessing how states are educating students with disabilities and targets monitoring to where it is needed most.

  • In case you missed it, a recap of the discussion on Twitter about using partnerships and other resources to address the needs of high-poverty rural schools is online.

  • Also, a snapshot of February's #AskFAFSA Office Hours on Twitter is online.

  • Meanwhile, online, Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter blogs about sharing responsibility for college affordability, completion, and quality, and Karen Gross blogs about breaking down silos.

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is accepting complaints from borrowers having difficulties with their private student loans. The CFPB will assist all borrowers experiencing problems taking out a private student loan, repaying a private student loan, or managing a student loan that has gone into default and may have been referred to a collector. Student loans have surpassed credit cards as the largest source of unsecured consumer debt.

  • March 5 was the official launch of the "Why Open Education Matters Video Competition," which will award cash prizes of up to $25,000 for the best short videos that explain the use and promise of free, high-quality open educational resources and describe the opportunities these materials create for students, teachers, and schools.

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Quote to Note

"The shootings at Chardon High School are an unspeakable tragedy, and our hearts go out to the entire community as they grieve this terrible and senseless loss. It's still too early to know yet why a student took a firearm to school and shot his classmates. But, preliminary reports indicate that if it were not for the extraordinary courage of a teacher who chased the shooter out of the school, and if not for the speedy reaction of school leaders, the toll of these shootings could have been even worse. We have been in touch with the superintendent's office to offer our help and support. And, we will do everything in our power to help support the Chardon community as it recovers from this tragedy."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (2/27/12), in a statement on the Chardon, Ohio, shootings

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Upcoming Events

March 14 and 15, the Secretary will join leaders from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Education International, together with multiple U.S.-based partners, to host the second International Summit on the Teaching Profession, in New York City. This year's theme, "Preparing Teachers and Developing School Leaders," was chosen based on feedback from last year's participants and will build on the conversation started in 2011. The event aims to explore three topics: preparing teachers for the delivery of 21st century skills, preparing teachers to work and succeed where they are needed most, and developing school leaders. (Note: The Department's media advisory includes several links for live webscasts.)

The Departments of Education and Justice will host a webinar on "Supporting Good Discipline Practices in Schools" on March 16, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

This year's Speak Up for Higher Education survey will be open March 12 through May 11. Participation is open to all students in teacher preparation programs at the undergraduate and graduate level, as well as career changers in special programs. The annual survey is an opportunity for America's next generation of teachers to "speak up" on their views on their career choice and share their ideas about how to leverage technology within learning.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) recently announced its annual institutes for educators this summer.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

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Last Modified: 03/13/2012