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August 10, 2012 ED Review
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 August 10, 2012
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Race to the Top
Connected Educator Month
ESEA Flexibility
Transforming the Teaching Profession
Grant Awards
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Race to the Top

Later today, the Department will make a major announcement regarding the 2012 Race to the Top-District competition. The purpose of this nearly $400 million program is to build upon the lessons learned from previous state-level competitions and support bold, locally directed improvements in teaching and learning that will directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness. Information will be posted, as it becomes available, here.

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Connected Educator Month

Secretary Duncan has declared the month of August as Connected Educator Month, a celebration and exploration of online communities and networks dedicated to broadening and deepening educator participation in learning and sharing. "Now, more than ever, we need strong leaders to guide the country in transforming education and vastly improving the opportunity to learn for every American," he stated. "Every educator needs to be connected with the best digital content, tools, and resources, in order to enliven the learning environment for students and to fully connect with peers and experts."

The celebration kicked-off with a three-day online event about connected education within the context of the larger education landscape, featuring keynote addresses by Deborah Meier, Chris Lehmann, Douglas Rushkoff, Larry Johnson, and Connie Yowell and a panel with the directors of the Department's Office of Educational Technology.

Also, six key educational issues, identified by the participating organizations, are being discussed in month-long forums:

Each forum includes a core group of thought leaders, as well as top practitioners in the field. All are welcome to participate.

In addition, to help those who are not yet engaged in online communities or networks get connected, the Connected Educator Month web site offers a wide variety of resources, including: a starter kit for educators who aspire to build their connections with other inspired classroom leaders; a starter kit for school districts to integrate connected education in their back-to-school professional development; and a book club, currently featuring "The Connected Educator," with author Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach participating in every session.

A culminating, two-day online event will synthesize and distill learnings from the month and generate takeaways and next steps for the field. All events and activities from the month will be archived, and many will continue to grow. And, multimedia proceedings will be generated for distribution.

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ESEA Flexibility

The Secretary recently announced that Nevada will receive flexibility from the burdensome mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). In exchange for this new flexibility, Nevada has agreed to raise academic standards, improve accountability, and undertake essential reforms to boost teacher effectiveness. This announcement brings the number of states with waivers to 33, plus the District of Columbia. Four other applications are still under review. Thirteen states and Puerto Rico have not yet requested a waiver through this process, although the Department expects additional states to request Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility by September 6.

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Transforming the Teaching Profession

On July 31, the Secretary announced the 12 teachers selected as 2012-13 Teaching Ambassador Fellows. Five teachers will become full-time employees at the Department's headquarters in Washington, D.C., one will work full-time in the agency's regional office in Seattle, and six will remain in their classrooms and participate on a part-time basis. "It is critical that we work collaboratively with teachers to develop policies that will truly transform and elevate the teaching profession," he noted. "I am proud of the work our Teaching Ambassadors have done to talk with and listen to other teachers across the county, as well as the direct input they have given my staff. I look forward to working with this year's fellows to take this good work to the next level." Now in its fifth year, the fellowship program was created to give outstanding teachers an opportunity to learn about national policy issues in education and contribute their expertise to those discussions. Fellows, in turn, share what they have learned with other teachers in their professional networks, contributing to a larger understanding of federal initiatives and encouraging broader input into policy and programs designed to improve education at all levels of government. This year's fellows will continue to interact with the 70 previous fellows from the past four classes.

Also last month, the Secretary met with future teachers from the National Education Association (NEA) Student Program to discuss ways to reinvigorate teacher preparation and enhance communications with the Department.

This month, teachers, principals, and advocates convened at the Department to make connections and drill down on several topics, including next steps for the agency's Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching (RESPECT) Project.

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Grant Awards

Over the last two weeks, the Department announced grant awards under several different programs. First, more than $21.5 million was awarded to 43 states to cover all or part of the fees charged to low-income students taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Based on the anticipated number of test-takers and other basic factors, these AP Test Fee Program grants are expected to be sufficient to pay up to $38 per AP exam for as many as three exams per student. By subsidizing test fees for low-income students, the program is intended to encourage students to take AP tests and obtain college credit for high school courses, reducing the time and cost required to complete a degree. Second, some $27 million was awarded to 56 school districts and community organizations who plan to implement comprehensive physical fitness and nutrition programs for their students through the established Carol M. White Physical Education Program. Third, more than $1.2 million was awarded to districts in California, Florida, Nevada, and New York via the Professional Development for Arts Educators Program, supporting model training programs for elementary and secondary education in music, dance, drama, media arts, or visual arts. Fourth, $11 million was awarded to three entities working to help charter schools obtain facilities (through purchase, lease, and donation) under the Credit Enhancement for Charter Schools Facilities Program. Fifth, $1 million was awarded to four schools in Illinois, Indiana, Texas, and Washington under the Realtime Writers Program, supporting court reporting and captioning programs with recruiting and training.

Also, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced the availability of grants to conduct research into the value and impact of the U.S. arts sector—whether on individuals or communities.

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Odds and Ends

  • A total of 242 applications were submitted to the Department to compete for a share of $60 million in 2012 Promise Neighborhoods funding, which supports community-led work to build partnerships, secure social services, and strengthen schools. The agency expects to award about $27 million in first-year funding for up to seven new implementation grants and about $7 million in one-year funding for up to 14 new planning grants. Remaining funds will be used for second-year funding for the five implementation grantees awarded last year.

  • A blog entry recaps the third annual Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Summit.

  • "The Irreplaceables," a new study by TNTP, documents the teacher retention crisis in America's schools. Spanning four urban districts with 2,100 schools, 1.4 million students, and 90,000 teachers, the study focuses on the experiences of the "irreplaceables"—teachers so successful at advancing student learning that they are next to impossible to replace. The study finds that schools rarely make a strong effort to keep these teachers, despite their success. So, the best and worst teachers leave urban schools at strikingly similar rates. Indeed, the nation's 50 largest districts lose approximately 10,000 irreplaceables each year.

  • Video is available for the last two summer "Let's Read! Let's Move!" events on the Department plaza. On July 25, Secretary Duncan was joined by Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service Wendy Spencer, District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, and U.S. Representatives Raul Grijalva from Arizona and Danny Davis from Illinois. On July 30, the Secretary was joined by Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Munoz and football player Brian Mitchell.

  • "First Time Kindergarteners in 2010-11," issued by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), provides a snapshot of the 3.5 million kindergartners who were attending school in the U.S. for the first time during the 2010-11 school year.

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Quote to Note

"Being an Olympian isn't just about winning gold or setting a record. It's about pushing yourself and believing in yourself. It's also about being active and taking care of your bodies. That's what Let's Move! is all about. It's about helping kids like you live happier, healthier lives. That's why we brought you all here today... because we want you to see that there are all kinds of ways that you can stay active and have fun doing it. You don't have to be an Olympian. You don't have to join a team. But there are so many ways that you can keep yourselves moving and have fun."

        First Lady Michelle Obama (7/27/12), addressing American and British children at Lets Move! London

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Upcoming Events

Today, the White House will welcome over 150 Parent Teacher Association (PTA) leaders from 41 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. military bases overseas for a day-long briefing. As part of this briefing, the White House will honor 12 parents as "Champions of Change." These extraordinary parents have devoted their time and energy to their PTA chapters and will have the opportunity to share their stories with Administration officials. The opening session (9:30 a.m. ET) and Champions event (2:00 p.m. ET) will be streamed live online. Also, anyone can join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #WHPTA.

On August 15, at 2:00 p.m. ET, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) will host a free webinar on cyberbullying, detailing how parents, schools, and communities can work together to help prevent this growing problem by creating a supportive environment and talking to children about the potential impact of cyberbullying.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

Please feel free to contact the Office of Communications and Outreach with any questions:
Deputy Assistant Secretary, 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: 08/28/2012