My Brother's Keeper
GEAR UP Competition
Condition of Education
Foster Care Student Resources
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
My Brother's Keeper
Three months ago, President Obama launched the "My Brother's Keeper" initiative, aimed at expanding opportunities for the nation's boys and young men of color and ensuring all young people can reach their full potential. As part of the launch, the President established a task force to develop "a coordinated federal effort to improve significantly the expected life outcomes for boys and young men of color... and their contributions to American prosperity." On May 30, he met with the task force and received a report on the progress made in the first 90 days of this initiative, as well as an initial set of recommendations.
"The bottom line is this: as we approach Father's Day, I'm just reminded that I am only here because a bunch of folks invested in me," the President said in his opening remarks. "We've got a huge number of kids out there who have as much talentmore talentthan I had, but nobody is investing in them. And, I want to make sure that I use this platform, and every Cabinet member here wants to make sure that they use the tools that they've got, so that these young boys, young men, know somebody cares about them, somebody is thinking about them, and they can succeed and make America stronger as a consequence" (video).
The task force identified key milestones in the path to adulthood that are predictive of later success and where interventions can have the greatest impact (fact sheet):
- getting a healthy start and entering school ready to learn;
- reading at grade level by third-grade;
- graduating from high school ready for college and career;
- completing postsecondary education or training;
- successfully entering the workforce; and
- keeping kids on track and giving them second chances.
The task force also issued cross-cutting recommendations, including launching a public-private campaign to recruit mentors for youth and improve the quality of mentoring programs; making the status and progress of youth of color and other populations more visible by improving data collection and transparency; and supporting locally driven efforts that are more comprehensiveaddressing the educational, physical, social, and emotional needs of young peopleand that span multiple life stages from cradle-to-college. The recommendations mark the starting point of a long-term effort, as the task force and public, private, and philanthropic actors develop recommendations and support community solutions beyond the progress report.
In the coming weeks and months, leading foundations will announce commitments to help make sure that young people can succeed.
And, a new "My Brother's Keeper" blog post highlights a discussion with 10 Hispanic young men from the Denver area with Secretary Duncan. The young men shared stories about their lives, the challenges they have faced and overcome, the supports that have helped them through, and the things they believe need to be alerted or improved to help more Hispanics and other young men of color succeed. Many of the young men are regular participants in activities with Padres y Jovenes Unidos, a non-profit organization that seeks to improve educational equity for Denver students.
Also last week, the President welcomed 100 young researchers from over 30 states to participate in a day-long showcase of innovative projects, patent-worthy interventions, and potentially lifesaving discoveries. During the 2014 White House Science Fair, the President caught basketballs shot off a hand-built catapult, test drove a remote-controlled search-and-rescue robot, and activated an auto-retracting bridge made of legos. The science fair also featured a young researcher developing an anti-flu vaccine, an engineer who built an electric car and raced it in a national competition, a group of girl coders who built an app to help their visually impaired classmate, and multiple teens with patents pending on groundbreaking inventions.
After touring the exhibits, the President told the audienceincluding Administration officials and celebri-geeks"We need to celebrate science fair winners... at least as much as we do Super Bowl winners." Indeed, he discussed at length a number of young innovators he met earlier in the day, marveling about their inquisitiveness, ingenuity, and ability to help solve some of the great challenges of our time. He also elaborated on the theme of this year's science fair: girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) (video).
Additionally, he announced a number of new steps to advance his Educate to Innovate campaignan all-hands-on-deck effort to get more boys and girls inspired to excel and to provide the support they need to succeed in the STEM subjects (fact sheet):
- a $35 million Department competition to support the President's goal to train 100,000 excellent STEM teachers (Teacher Quality Partnership grants);
- a major expansion of STEM AmeriCorps to provide STEM learning opportunities for 18,000 low-income students this summer;
- a national STEM mentoring effort kicking-off in seven cities; and
- new endeavors by leading technology and media companies, non-profit organizations, and others to connect more students to STEM.
GEAR UP Competition
This week, the Department announced the availability of $75 million for two new Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) competitions. Created in 1998, GEAR UP provides funding for academic and related support services to eligible low-income middle and high school students, including students with disabilities, to help them earn a high school diploma and succeed in college. The program provides six-year grants to states and partnerships to offer services at high-poverty middle and high schools, as well as to provide college scholarships to students. This year's grants are focused on improving college readiness and fit, so all students graduate from high school prepared for college without needing remedial courses and enroll in an institution that will help them maximize their success. This year's grants are tailored for projects designed to serve and coordinate with a Promise Zone and for projects that improve students' non-cognitive skills and behaviors, including academic mindset, perseverance, motivation, and mastery of social and emotional skills that improve student success. Applications are due on July 7, and grants will be awarded by the end of September. (Note: A blog post profiles GEAR UP alumnus Hector Araujo, who was the first person in his family to graduate from high school and is now pursuing his master's degree at the University of Arizona.)
Condition of Education
On May 29, the Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), released "The Condition of Education 2014," a Congressionally mandated report to the country on education in America today. The report presents 42 indicators grouped under four areas: population characteristics, participation in education, elementary and secondary education, and postsecondary education. The report also spotlights some areas of interest: trends in employment rates by educational attainment, kindergarten entry status (on-time, delayed-entry, and repeating kindergartners), the status of rural education, and financing higher education.
Foster Care Student Resources
The Department has released new resources to emphasize and support the needs of foster care students. Along with new guidance, the agency issued a joint letter with the Department of Health and Human Services about increasing educational stability for children and youth in foster care and launched a dedicated web page. The guidance will make it easier for caseworkers, child welfare agencies, and tribal organizations responsible for the placement and care of children and youth in foster care to have direct access to their education records. It provides states with information to implement the Uninterrupted Scholars Act, an amendment to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). It further details the amendment's impact on the confidentiality provisions in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). (Note: A blog post by foster care alumna Lexie Gruber emphasizes the difference educators make for foster youth.)
Odds and Ends
In a blog post, "Cities Can't Wait When it Comes to Early Learning," Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning Libby Doggett recaps her visits to Dallas and Salt Lake City, each of which is "experiencing disparate challenges and moving forward on early learning in a distinctive way." She notes that cities and states cannot do this work alone, "which is why the President proposed his Preschool for All initiative, which would greatly expand services for children from birth to pre-school in our nation."
Yesterday, more than a dozen college graduates, advocates, economists, and college presidents discussed college affordability and student loans with Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary Duncan. Next Tuesday, the President will talk more about these issues on his first-ever Tumblr Q&A.
The Department's Progress blog spotlights state and local innovative ideas, promising practices, lessons learned, and resources informed by the implementation of K-12 education reforms. Currently, one can read about a Baltimore elementary/middle school that made parent engagement a top priority as part of its turnaround strategy.
Teacher Ambassador Fellow Emily Davis recently sat down with the Secretary to ask him about Teach to Lead and how to maintain the integrity of teacher leadership.
A new NCES report provides insight into the impact of distance education courses on enrollment at the state level.
On May 29, during the Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit, the President addressed the alarming increase in brain injuries from sports and recreation, urging caution and announcing a number of commitments by stakeholders to expand knowledge of concussions and give parents, coaches, clinicians, and young athletes the tools to prevent, identify, and respond to concussions.
Earlier this week, the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor issued a joint letter to provide education, social services, workforce development, and private leaders with information about ways schools and human services agencies can work with the American Job Center network. The goal is to make sure that students and their parents have relevant and timely information with which to make informed career decisions. The three agencies are committed to giving students information about college and career options and opportunities that can help them make informed choices for their futures.
The Department has updated its Open Government Plan. The plan explains how the agency is using open government, including increasing transparency and accountability, soliciting and incorporating more public input, increasing collaboration and communication with other organizations, and creating a culture of openness within the organization.
Quote to Note
"Maya Angelou was not just a phenomenal writer and artist. She was a teacher and mentor whose words will live on for generations. She once wrote, 'When you learn, teach. When you get, give.' Dr. Angelou certainly lived by that wisdom throughout her amazing life, and the world is a better place because of her."
|||Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (5/28/14), in a statement on the passing of Maya Angelou|
For Flag Day (June 14), the Federal Registry for Educational Excellence (FREE) offers eight ways that kids can learn more about the nation's history and government.
The Department is accepting applications for fall 2014 internships through July 15. Interns will have an opportunity to learn about federal education policy while developing a variety of other skills, including communicating, 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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