Preventing Youth Violence
Education and the Economy
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
On April 2, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the Department's Institute of Education Sciences (IES), issued findings from the first nationwide arts survey in a decade, documenting the state of arts education in U.S. public schools. "I start from a simple presumption that I think most parents and teachers share: all students should have access to arts instruction," Secretary Duncan said at the release. "For a host of reasons, high-quality arts education is critical to providing all students with a world-class education. So, when I look at the big picture of the 2009-10 arts survey, I see a good news-bad news story." On the one hand, there have not been significant declines in the availability of music and visual arts instruction in elementary and secondary schools. On the other hand, the percentage of elementary schools providing dance and drama instruction decreased from 20% in 1999-2000 to 3% and 4%, respectively, in 2009-10, and, at more than 40% of high schools, coursework in the arts was not required for graduation in 2009-10. "And, unfortunately, the 'arts opportunity gap' is the widest for children in high-poverty," the Secretary noted. Indeed, just a third of high-poverty secondary schools have five or more courses in music, compared to 60% of low-poverty secondary schools, and just a fourth of high-poverty secondary schools have five or more courses in visual arts, compared to half of low-poverty secondary schools. (Note: The Secretary's full remarks are available online.)
Meanwhile, according to a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), at-risk students who have access to the arts in- or out-of-school also tend to have better academic results, better workforce opportunities, and more civic engagement.
Preventing Youth Violence
Also on April 2, the Department of Justice hosted the National Summit on Preventing Youth Violence, bringing together mayors, police chiefs, school officials, youth, and other local representatives to report on their efforts to prevent youth violence in connection with the Administration's National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention. Participants included Secretary Duncan, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske, and White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. In his remarks, Secretary Duncan commended the work of six cities (Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, and Salinas and San Jose, CA) that have developed comprehensive plans to help reduce youth and gang violence, improve opportunities for youth, and encourage innovation at the local level. (Note: Senior Advisor Jarrett's remarks are available online.)
Meanwhile, Secretary Duncan unveiled a revitalized StopBullying.gov web site, with new tools and information about who is at risk of being bullied, how to tell if a child is bullying someone else, and concrete steps that individuals, families, and communities can take to address bullying where they live, play, and attend school.
Education and the Economy
Secretary Duncan participated in The Atlantic's March 27 Digital Town Hall meeting, titled "Jobs and Economy of the Future: Educating the Next Generation to Compete," where the discussion focused on how best to prepare students for college and careers. The achievement gap, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs, and technology in the classroom were among the principal topics of conversation. The Secretary, joining correspondent and co-anchor of the PBS NewsHour Judy Woodruff, pointed to the massive cultural change needed to improve the educational system and better prepare students to compete in today's global economy. He emphasized better training to produce more effective teachers, making connections between education and careers, engaging students in their passions, and challenging schools to innovate. Moreover, he observed that, while technology has transformed our lives, it does not seem to be utilized to its potential in the classroom.
Soon thereafter (March 30), the Secretary was in South Carolina for a one-day, three-city visit with Congressman James Clyburn focused on innovative education reform and keeping college affordable for America's families. He began the day in North Charleston, where he joined students, teachers, and business leaders for a roundtable discussion on school reform, bullying, and community engagement. Next, he stopped at Scott's Branch High School in Summerton, where he joined former Secretary of Education Richard Riley to speak with students and teachers about the school's "Creating a Corridor of Innovation" program. With the help of a federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grant, Scott's Branch is implementing a New Tech High School model that is infused with the latest technology for education and executes a project-based learning approach that can help increase college- and career-readiness in high-poverty rural districts. Then, at Allen University, an Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Columbia, he hosted a college affordability town hall with students.
A recent "Dear Colleague" letter highlights the joint commitment of the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor to promote the use of career pathways approaches as a promising strategy to help adults acquire marketable skills and industry-recognized credentials through better alignment of education, training and employment, and human and social services among public agencies and with employers. The Departments encourage states to line up state resources to support integrated service delivery areas across federal and state funding streams and ensure that interested agencies and partnerswhether focused on education, workforce development, or human and social servicesare fully aware of this joint commitment for improved collaboration and coordination across programs and funding sources. While there are a number of definitions of career pathways, this term generally refers to a series of connected education and training strategies and support services that enables individuals to secure industry-relevant certification and obtain employment within an occupational area, as well as to advance to higher levels of future education and employment within that area.
Odds and Ends
The Department has issued notices inviting applications for "validation grants" (up to $15 million) and "scale-up grants" (up to $25 million) through the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund. School districts, groups of schools, and non-profits organizations in partnership with districts and schools are eligible to compete for these grants, with applications due May 29. Grant awards will be made to those with the strongest proposals for expanding promising or effective educational practices to improve learning. (Note: A pre-application for "development grants" [up to $3 million] was announced last month, due April 9.)
On March 28, the Secretary testified before the House Education and the Workforce Committee on priorities in the President's Fiscal Year 2013 budget.
On March 30, the Secretary announced that nine more states (Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania) will receive funds to turn around their persistently lowest-achieving schools through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. (Note: A blog post highlights preliminary achievement data from the first year of efforts under SIG.)
A new NCES "First Look" report presents findings from a spring 2011 postsecondary education data collection on student enrollment, graduation rates, and financial statistics.
Materials presented during the NCES Testing Integrity Symposium (February 28) are available online.
Based on comments received from the general public and key stakeholders, the Department made a number of changes to its Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2011-14.
Quote to Note
"Despite the brutal budget climate in the states and in Washington, arts education must not just survive but thrive. A well-rounded education is simply too vital to our students' success to let the teaching of the arts and humanities erode. Some states and districts are leading the way in protecting and expanding arts instruction. In Boston, under Mayor Thomas Menino's leadership, the city has formed a fantastic partnership with foundations and philanthropists to work toward the goal of providing arts education for all students as a core component of excellent schools. Three years ago, Boston launched a $10 million public-private initiative to bolster arts education, and it is producing big results. This year, 14,000 more Boston students are getting arts instruction than did in 2009. And, twice as many high school students are accessing arts learning during the school day. Boston is helping lead the nation where we need to go. So, working collectively, let's follow their example."
|||Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (4/2/12), in remarks at the release of a nationwide arts survey|
The Department is hosting a series of webinars over the coming months focused on community colleges. The next webinar will be held April 26, from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The theme is "Promoting College- and Career-Readiness: Bridge Programs for Low-Skilled Adults." (Note: Both audio and video of the initial two webinars are archived online.)
This spring, First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver commencement addresses at Virginia Tech University, North Carolina A&T University, and Oregon State University.
April 11-14, the Department will exhibit at Council for Exceptional Children's (CDC) Annual Convention in Denver. If you are attending this event, please stop by the Department's booth. Also, on April 11, at 3:00 p.m. ET, Secretary Duncan and Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Alexa Posny will join the CDC for a Twitter Town Hall.
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