September 28, 2001
...a bi-weekly update on Education Department activities relevant to the Intergovernmental and Corporate community
In a September 19 letter to schools, colleges, and universities, Secretary Paige called on educators to take a leading role in the prevention of harassment and violence directed at students perceived to be Muslim or of Arab decent. "We are all committed to making sure our children across America can attend school in a safe and secure environment free from harassment and threats," he said. "Today, I call upon school officials to work with students, parents, and community groups, to ensure that harassment and violence have no place in our schools." Specifically, the Secretary urged educators not to allow assemblies, classroom discussions, and other activities held to honor the victims to inadvertently foster the targeting of Muslim or Arab-American students for harassment. He also said educators should (1) encourage students to discuss diversity constructively and to express disagreement over ideas or beliefs in a respectful manner; (2) have a system in place to intervene if students exhibit conduct that could endanger others; and (3) encourage all students to report threats of racial or ethnic harassment. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin by recipients of federal financial assistance. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.ed.gov/News/Letters/010919.html.
STUDENT LOAN DEFAULT RATE
The national student loan default rate is at its lowest point ever -- 5.6 percent for Fiscal Year 1999 -- and three-fourths less than it was at its peak (22.4 percent) in 1990. In fact, the default rate has declined every year since 1992, and this year marks the fourth consecutive year that it has remained below 10 percent (last year's rate was 6.9 percent). Moreover, only seven institutions had 1999 default rates that put them in danger of becoming or remaining barred from participation in federal student aid programs, and, for the first time, all 101 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have lowered their default rates sufficiently to keep them off the "watch list." Institutions with default rates of more than 40 percent in one year or 25 percent or more for three consecutive years may lose their eligibility to participate in loan and/or Pell Grant programs. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/09-2001/09192001a.html. (Note: Individual school default rates are posted at http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/defaultmanagement/cdr.html.)
Also: In the wake of the terrorist attacks, the Education Department has directed lenders who have made or hold federal students loans to provide financial relief from monthly loan payments to those borrowers affected by the terrorist attacks (http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/09-2001/09192001.html) and to military personnel who have been reassigned or activated as a result of September 11's events (http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/09-2001/09242001c.html). Borrowers or their families who have questions about this or other guidance issued by the Department should call 1-800-4FEDAID (1-800-433-3243).
Over the past two weeks, the Department has released $7 million in Project SERV funds to the school districts directly impacted by the terrorist attacks. On September 17, Secretary Paige toured P.S. 41 and delivered $4 million to the New York City Board of Education (http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/09-2001/09172001.html). Two days later, the Secretary visited Patrick Henry Elementary in Arlington and delivered $500,000 to the Virginia Department of Public Instruction (http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/09-2001/09192001b.html). In addition, special financial assistance was announced for Connecticut -- $500,000 (http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/09-2001/09242001a.html), the District of Columbia -- $250,000 (http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/09-2001/09242001b.html), Maryland -- $250,000 (http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/09-2001/09212001.html), and New Jersey -- $1.5 million (http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/09-2001/09212001a.htm). Project SERV is intended to provide assistance, such as counseling services, to local school districts that have experienced a traumatic event. The funds are available to meet immediate needs as well as a longer-term crisis response.
Also: On September 25, Secretary Paige released almost $7 million for the State of New York -- $5 million in assistance from the Rehabilitative Services Administration in order to help those who have suffered disabling mental and physical injuries and another $1.7 million under Project SERV (in addition to the $4 million awarded earlier) to support school districts surrounding New York City. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/09-2001/09252001a.html.
Last week, President Bush signed into law legislation (H.R. 2133) creating the "Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Commission." The commission, bolstered by $250,000 from Congress, will plan and coordinate activities to celebrate the landmark 1954 decision, including public lectures, writing contests, and public awareness campaigns. In his statement, the President welcomed the participation of representatives of the Judiciary Branch, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in the activities of the commission (in an advisory capacity). He also solicited suggestions from Congress on appointments. The 20-member commission will include 11 presidential appointees and two representatives from the Education Department. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010919-16.html.
Since 1994, the Department's Partnership for Family Involvement in Education (PFIE) has worked with businesses, community and faith-based organizations, and families and schools to support parent and employee involvement in education. Now 6,000 members strong, PFIE holds regional and national forums to educate partners about current, relevant family-friendly policies and exemplary practices; provides partners with comprehensive partnership-building, management, and assessment tools; and uses resources and research provided by the Department and other partners to mobilize interest, energy, and expertise (for example, on the importance of father involvement, http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2001/quarterly/summer/q2-5.asp). Best of all, membership is free! To learn more about the benefits of joining PFIE, see "Who We Are, What We Do" (http://www.ed.gov/offices/OIIA/pfie/whoweare/). Sector-specific publications, including a business guide for implementing strategic education partnerships, are available at http://pfie.ed.gov/publications_main.php3. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://pfie.ed.gov/. (Note: PFIE's 2000 survey of religious and community partners is available from ED PUBS. Go to http://www.ed.gov/pubs/edpubs.html and enter "2000 survey" in the Simple Search text box).
Speaking of involvement, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation recently released "Making It Count: A Guide to High-Impact Philanthropy." The guide includes a "primer" on today's education system and efforts to reform it, an examination of the ways philanthropists generally target their resources for education reform, profiles of philanthropists and their education-related projects, and advice and strategies for donors to use in advancing their own education reform goals. The Foundation also commissioned seven papers by experts on such topics as: venture philanthropy, lessons learned by private foundations about education reform, teacher quality and philanthropy, and evaluating education reform projects. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.edexcellence.net/philanthropy/.
TALK TO CHILDREN
"On September 11th, America faced terrorist attacks of the worst kind. Innocent lives were lost and a sad cloud was cast over this great nation. These acts were intended to cause fear among all Americans -- including our children. But, we cannot let that happen. There are things that we can do to help our kids. Talk with them. Listen to them. Tell them they are safe and that they are loved. God bless you, and God bless America."
-- First Lady Laura Bush (Ad Council PSA)
"Through our words and the example of our own conduct, we must remind our children that harassment of and violence toward any individual because of his or her race or national origin is never acceptable. In addition, we must emphasize during this difficult time in our nation's history that our feelings of anger and sadness must not be directed at innocent Arab-Americans, or other individuals having no connection to last week's events. Working together, we can make sure that our children get a good education in a safe environment that does not tolerate violence and hatred."
-- Education Secretary Rod Paige (9/19/01)
The American Liberty Partnership is an Internet industry initiative (created by Amazon, AOL/Time Warner, Cisco Systems, eBay, Microsoft, and Yahoo!) using the online medium to connect people who want to help with the organizations that need it the most. At http://www.libertyunite.org/, you will find opportunities to support these organizations, as well as general information about how the relief effort is progressing and what needs are next on the horizon. In the first week alone, more than $57 million was raised through online contributions to support charities involved in the relief efforts, much of it in small donations of $30 to $50 each. All donations go directly to your charity of choice, with no costs or fees.
Please feel free to contact the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs with any questions:
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