Press Room NEWSLETTERS
August 29, 2014

ED Review ... ...a bi-weekly update on U.S. Department of Education activities relevant to the Intergovernmental and Corporate community and other stakeholders

What's inside...
Back to School: Bus Tour
Back to School: Conversation
Back to School: Resources
Commit to Lead
Preschool Development Grants
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Back to School: Bus Tour

September 8-10, Secretary Duncan and senior officials will visit seven cities in three states across the American Southeast as part of the Department's fifth annual Back to School bus tour. This year's theme is "Partners in Progress." Stops will highlight the states' commitment to encourage reform and innovation and help all students to achieve success.

The Secretary will discuss the changes in education and the challenges that accompany them, while spotlighting the champions of reform who are leading the effort to improve education for all students. He will also showcase investments the Department has made in each state and discuss initiatives such as Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation (i3), Preschool for All, College Access Challenge Grants, and My Brother's Keeper. Additional information about the bus tour will be announced in the coming weeks.

The public will be able to digitally connect with the tour in a number of ways, including following the tour on ED.gov. Staff will also blog, live tweet, and engage using other social media platforms.

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Back to School: Conversation

Last week, the Secretary joined educators at Jefferson Academy Middle School in Washington, D.C., to offer some thoughts as they gear up for the new school year. One was a message of celebration and thanks. The other was a response to a concern that has come up often in conversations he has had with teachers and families.

A main topic was educators' questions and concerns about standardized testing. The Secretary spoke about the need to provide strong support to educators and laid out actions the federal government will take to afford states greater flexibility in this area.

The Secretary's remarks and the full conversation of the event may be viewed here. The Secretary also penned a corresponding blog post. And, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deb Delisle sent a letter to Chief State School Officers informing them of this new element of flexibility.

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Back to School: Resources

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Commit to Lead

This week, the Department and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) unveiled "Commit to Lead," a new online community that makes it easy for educators to share ideas for teacher leadership and collaborate to bring them to fruition (see blog post). This community enables educators everywhere to provide feedback and vote on each other's ideas, allowing the most talked about ideas to rise to the top so they can gain traction and prominence in the field. Commit to Lead is the online platform of "Teach to Lead," an initiative to promote teacher leadership convened by the Department and NBPTS.

Commit to Lead invites members to post quick ideas—in under 300 words—that advance teacher leadership in their school, district, or state to address a pressing problem and improve student outcomes. Reflecting the diversity of teacher leadership efforts, members are asked to select from a broad list of categories for their idea. Members can promote their ideas on social media, helping to spur the conversation beyond their own school buildings and districts, and can search existing ideas by keywords and locations.

Ideas posted during a beta launch of Commit to Lead include: inviting state education leaders to visit classrooms to speak directly with teachers and inviting educators to participate in feedback sessions and working groups at the state education agency; building a pipeline of new teacher leaders by creating partnerships between colleges of education and local K-12 schools and connecting pre-service teachers with established teacher leaders; and starting an online professional learning community for career and technical education educators to share resources and strategies for integrating literacy into their classes.

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Preschool Development Grants

Earlier this month, Secretary Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced the availability of applications under the $250 million Preschool Development Grants competition (see fact sheet and blog post). "This competition will provide thousands of additional four-year-old children across the country with a high-quality preschool education," explained Cecilia Munoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, in her own blog post. "The program is a critical piece of the President's plan to boost access to high-quality preschool and support early learning for every child in America, beginning at birth and continuing through school entry."

The Department's Office of Early Learning recently offered three technical assistance webinars: an overview for stakeholders and planning workshops for potential state applicants on the two categories of grants (Development Grants and Expansion Grants). Webinar recordings, slides, and transcripts are posted here. Questions may be submitted to PreschoolDevelopmentGrants@ed.gov.

Also, Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Director of the Department's Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning Libby Doggett joined Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Mayor Johnny DuPree (August 7-8) and Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James (August 25) for community conversations on early learning in collaboration with the National League of Cities.

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Odds and Ends

  • To date, the Department has approved 22 states for one-year extensions of flexibility (1 and 2) from certain provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA): Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin. These extensions allow states to move forward with the critical work of implementing the bold reforms they committed to in their original flexibility requests—which expire this summer—with the goal of improving achievement for all students. The Department is reviewing state requests for one-year extensions on a rolling basis and anticipates approving additional requests over the next several weeks. (Note: The agency has posted here approved flexibility requests and highlights of each state's plan.)

  • With a federal Charter Schools Program grant, the Arizona Charter Schools Association created a program to train new charter school leaders to focus on quality of instruction and academic success from the start, strengthening the education system in the urban core of Phoenix.

  • A series of higher education blog posts reviews the August 12 White House convening with community college leaders, outlines a promising pilot program to help student borrowers, and recognizes the 50th anniversary of federal TRIO programs.

  • A second fact sheet provides additional questions and answers about enrolling new immigrant students in school.

  • IES invites feedback on the work of two research centers—the National Center for Education Research (NCER) and the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER)—by October 1.

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Quote to Note

"We encouraged states to move a whole lot of changes simultaneously, because of the enormous urgency to raise standards and improve systems of teacher support—not for another generation of students but for today's students. But, in how this change happens, we need to listen carefully to the teachers, principals, and other educators who are living it on a daily basis, and we need to be true to our promise to be tight on outcomes but loose on how we get there.... Change is hard, and changes of significance rarely work exactly as planned, but in partnership—making course alterations as necessary—we will get there."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (8/21/14), in his Back to School blog post

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Upcoming Events

September 4 and 5, U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Director Andrea Falken will visit schools in southern Florida, as part of the second leg of the agency's second annual Green Strides Best Practices Tour. This year's tour, "Healthy Schools, High-Achieving Students," is focused on environmental health. Federal, state, and local visitors will bring attention to best practices of honored schools and districts. The tour, which began in West Virginia and Kentucky, will later stop in Colorado, Minnesota, and Maryland. Events are open to the public.

The September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance is the result of efforts launched by the non-profit MyGoodDeed in 2002, with wide support by the 9/11 community and leading national service organizations. There will be opportunities for volunteers to spruce up schools, paint and refurbish homes, run food drives, reclaim neighborhoods, and support veterans, soldiers, military families, and first responders.

National Preparedness Month—observed each September—is a reminder that everyone must take action to prepare for emergencies. This year's theme is "Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare." National Preparedness Month culminates on September 30 with National PrepareAthon! Day, a bi-annual opportunity to prepare for specific hazards through drills, exercises, and group discussions, during which individuals, families, organizations such as K-12 schools and institutions of higher education, and communities will take simple, specific actions to increase emergency preparedness. The goal is to increase the number of people who take steps to be more prepared by practicing a specific action for a hazard they are likely to experience. This fall's efforts will build upon the hazards identified during the spring: earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, and winter storms. (Note: Among the resources are a "How to Get Involved" quick guide and a Digital Engagement Toolkit.)

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

ED Review is a product of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Communications and Outreach, State and Local Engagement—Joseph P. Walsh, Deputy Assistant Secretary

To be added or removed from distribution or submit comments (we welcome your feedback!), please contact Managing Director Adam Honeysett at (202) 401-3003 or Adam.Honeysett@ed.gov. Or, visit http://www2.ed.gov/news/newsletters/edreview/.


This newsletter contains hypertext links to information created and maintained by other public and private organizations. These links are provided for the user's convenience. The U.S. Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this outside information. Furthermore, the inclusion of links is not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered, on these sites, or the organizations sponsoring the sites.

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Last Modified: 09/09/2014