Student Loan Interest Rates
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
On May 29, Secretary Duncan delivered opening remarks at a discussion hosted by the Brookings Institution on the President's proposal to expand high-quality early learning opportunities. He outlined the President's birth-to-five early learning plan and explained how the Administration will work with the states to successfully implement the initiative. "The President's birth-to-five proposal is not only an essential investment to build a foundation for prosperity and entry into the middle class," he said, "it is also the right thing to do.... So, let's invest to bring every child to the same starting line. Help us get the nation's public schools out of the catch-up business. Let's keep our promisesand reinvigorate the nation's commitment to equal opportunity. It's time. Our children and our country cannot wait." (Note: An archived webcast of the discussion is available here.)
Next, on May 31, the Secretary traveled to Atlanta, where he co-hosted a town hall on early learning with Governor Nathan Deal and Mayor Kasim Reed and addressed the National Conference of Black Mayors' annual convention.
Then, early this week, the Secretary visited New Bridge Learning Center in Henrico, Virginia, which serves 110 at-risk preschool children and their families with a combination of federal and state funding.
That same day (June 4), the White House released state-by-state fact sheets detailing what states could expect to receive in federal funding under the President's proposal.
Also, as part of the national Early Learning Day of Action (June 5), the Department issued a video with educators providing personal testimony on how high-quality early learning positively affected their students.
Moreover, late last month, a group of more than 300 business leaders representing 44 states signed a letter calling on the President and Congress to invest in early learning programs.
President Obama and Secretary Duncan traveled to Mooresville, North Carolina, yesterday to see how the school district is developing a cutting-edge curriculum that embraces technology and digital learning. While on site, the President also launched the ConnectED initiative. Under this new initiative, he is: calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to modernize and leverage the existing E-Rate program for schools and libraries to connect 99% of America's students to the Internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless within five years; directing the federal government to make better use of existing funds to get Internet connectivity and educational technology into classrooms and provide teachers with the training and support to effectively use it; and encouraging businesses, states, districts, schools, and communities to back this vision. Preparing students with the skills they need to get good jobs and compete in a global economy will rely increasingly on interactive, individualized learning experiences driven by new technology. Yet, today, millions of students lack high-speed broadband access, and fewer than 20% of educators say their school's Internet connection meets their teaching needs. (Note: In advance of the event, the White House issued a helpful fact sheet.)
Also, after the event, the White House hosted a virtual "show and tell" with high tech schools, with students and teachers demonstrating how they are using connected classrooms to improve the quality of the education system.
This week, as part of the Administration's effort to open a national conversation to increase awareness and understanding about mental health, the White House hosted a National Conference on Mental Health. The conference, attended by health care experts, psychologists, faith leaders, advocates for veterans, and a host of Administration officials, focused on ways to work together to reduce stigma and help millions of Americans struggling with mental health problems recognize the importance of reaching out for assistance. "We know that recovery is possible, and we know that help is available, and yet as a society we often think about mental health differently than other forms of health," President Obama noted. "There should be no shame in discussing or seeking help for treatable illnesses that affect too many people that we love.... Too many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are still suffering in silence rather than seeking help, and we need to see it that men and women who would never hesitate to go see a doctor if they had a broken arm or came down with the flu have the same attitude when it comes to mental health." (Note: The White House issued a fact sheet, posted videos of presentations, and launched a new web site.)
Student Loan Interest Rates
Last week, President Obama called on Congress to prevent federal student loan rates from doubling [from 3.4% to 6.8%] on July 1. From the Rose Garden, he urged students and young people to speak out in favor of action on college affordability, just as they did in 2012. He also made the argument that increasing access to college is not just good for the future of young people but imperative for the nation at large. "Higher education cannot be a luxury for a privileged few," he said. "It is an economic necessity that every family should be able to afford, that every young person with dreams and ambition should be able to access.... Now is the time to reaffirm our commitment to you and the generation that's coming behind you." (Note: A White House fact sheet details states' average savings under the President's plan to keep student loans affordable.)
Also, a new brochure, developed by the Department and four student loan servicers, presents America's servicemen and servicewomen with more information about federal education loans, special benefits, and repayment options.
The deadlines for several grant competitions are fast approaching:
- Child Care Access Means Parents in Schools Program (closes 6/24). This program supports the participation of low-income parents in postsecondary education through the provision of campus-based child care services.
- Investing in Innovation (i3) Fundboth Validation Grants and Scale-Up Grants (closes 7/2). These grants continue the Department's investments in promising strategies that can improve student learning and close achievement gaps. (Note: A May 30 policy briefing at the agency featured three i3 grantees developing new models to improve student achievement in low-performing schools.)
- School Leadership Program (closes 7/8). This program supports the development, enhancement, or expansion of innovative programs to recruit, train, and mentor principals and assistant principals.
Also, be sure to review the Department's Fiscal Year 2013 Grants Forecast (as of May 22), which lists virtually all programs and competitions under which the agency has invited or expects to invite applications for awards and provides actual or estimated dates for the transmittal of applications under these programs. (Note: This document is advisory only and not an official application notice of the Department of Education.)
Odds and Ends
Secretary Duncan joined NBA player and education advocate Chris Paul and a few teachers to discuss innovation in education at the "Reimagining Education: Empowering Learners in a Connected World" summit at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
On June 1, the Secretary offered the commencement address at the College of the Menominee Nation in Wisconsin.
On June 3, the Secretary, Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter, Acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Bob Perciasepe, and Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Administration Nancy Sutley congratulated 2013 U.S. Department of Education-Green Ribbon Schools at a special ceremony at the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. The Secretary also announced the Education Built to Last Facilities Best Practices Tour. This tour will spotlight state, district, and school practices used to improve the overall achievement, productivity, and wellness of occupants through educational, health, and safety improvements in school facilities.
Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Director of the Department's Center for Faith-Based and Neighbor-hood Partnerships, recently visited San Antonio to learn about how schools and community organizations there are working closely together to engage families in education.
The Asia Society has published its report from the 2013 International Summit on the Teaching Profession held in Amsterdam in March, covering how various countries are defining and evaluating teacher quality and their methods for using teacher quality to improve learning.
In a statement, the Secretary praised the Boys Scouts of America for no longer denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation.
Getting America's schools covered (information on the Affordable Care Act): Job-based health plans and new individual health plans may not deny or exclude coverage for children (under age 19) based on pre-existing conditions, including a disability.
Quote to Note
"Despite all the evidence, dramatically expanding high-quality preschool poses real challenges.... But, I'm actually confident these challenges can be met because of the leadership I already see across the country from Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Twenty-seven governors, as well as the Mayor of Washington, D.C., referenced early learning in their State of the State addresses this year. These leadersregardless of party affiliationrecognize that early learning helps prepare children for educational success, provides critical support for families, and ultimately, strengthens our nation's economy."
|||Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (5/29/13), at a Brookings Institution discussion on early learning|
A National Center for Safe Supportive Learning Environment webinar (June 12 and 13) will review strategies to design and conduct surveys to measure bullying, violence, and substance abuse. Specifically, presenters will describe the elements of an effectively managed survey process, discuss the key elements of survey administration, and identify some essential ways to measure bullying, violence, and substance abuse. Links to appropriate resources and examples of assessments will be provided.
The Department is accepting applications for fall 2013 internships through July 15. Interns will have an opportunity to learn about federal education policy while developing a variety of other skills, including communication, researching, and writing. They will also participate in group events, such as lunches with senior agency officials, local tours, and movie nights.
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