Teacher Appreciation Week
Completing the FAFSA
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Teacher Appreciation Week
The Department celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week (April 6-10) with a variety of events and outreach.
Secretary Duncan actually started early by honoring the five experienced teachers who were inducted into the National Teacher Hall of Fame on May 4.
The Secretary officially kicked-off the week on May 6 with a statement and blog post. "During this week, the people who value teachers often take time to send them a note of thanks or a token of appreciation. This is appropriate. The least we can do once a year is to push 'pause' on our lives and thank them," he said. However, what our teachers really needand deserveis our ongoing commitment to work with them to transform America's schools. They need us to acknowledge them, as professionals who are doing our nation's most important work. We can begin this work by making it a priority to listen to and to celebrate teachers."
Also that day, the Department hosted a Google+ Hangout at Howard University in Washington, D.C., moderated by Tamron Hall of NBC News. The panel, comprised of African-American educators from across the U.S., discussed the rewards of the teaching profession, the critical role of good teachers, and the challenges educators face in preparing students for college and careers. Nationwide, more than 35% of public school students are African-American or Hispanic, but less than 15% of teachers are black or Hispanic, and less than 2% of teachers are African-American males.
On May 7, in the vein of the new Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching (RESPECT) Blueprint, the Secretary released an op-ed calling on education stakeholders to go beyond a week of celebration to create ongoing supports for teachers.
On May 8, the Secretary made a surprise visit to Kramer Middle School in Washington, D.C., thanking teachers and staff during their Teacher Appreciation Week breakfast celebration, and hosted a reception at the Department for the over 400 current and former teachers who work at the agency.
On May 9, the Department's Teaching Ambassador Fellows organized the second annual "ED Goes Back to School Day," in which more than 65 Department officials (political appointees and career staff) spent the day shadowing a teacher. That evening, both the teachers and the staff who shadowed them met with the Secretary to share stories and implications for their work.
Throughout the week, Secretary Duncan encouraged the public to #ThankATeacher via Twitter and made surprise phone calls to educators, and the Fellows held roundtable discussions with teachers, including those teaching students with exceptionalities and English language learners.
The Administration is continuing to promote the President's early learning initiative.
First, Secretary Duncan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius participated in a panel discussion at the National Institute for Early Education Research's (NIEER) release of "The State of Preschool Yearbook 2012" at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. According to NIEER's latest study, state funding for pre-kindergarten decreased by over $548 million in 2011-12, the largest one-year drop since tracking began in 2002. Also, after a decade of growth, enrollment in state pre-K has stalled, and state pre-K funding per child fell to $3,841, well below the $5,020 (inflation-adjusted) national average in 2001-02. "That's no way to create a world-class education system. And, it's no way to put our students on a path for college- and career-readiness in a knowledge-based, competitive global economy," Secretary Duncan stressed during his opening statement. "To close achievement and opportunity gaps, states, with federal support, must do much more to level the playing field. They have to do much more to provide equal opportunities for childrenparticularly disadvantaged kidsto begin kindergarten at the same starting line. If ever there was a report that makes the case for the need for President Obama's new Preschool for All proposal, this is it."
Second, the Secretaries delivered remarks at the National Head Start Association's annual conference, focusing on the role of Head Start and the continued partnership between the Departments to expand high-quality early childhood programs. "The standards for high-quality early learning in state programs that the President has laid out in his Preschool for All plan are informed by what we have learned from Head Start and adopted, in part, from Head Start's Designation Renewal System (DRS) competition," Secretary Duncan stated in his keynote address. "Some say we shouldn't set the bar too high on quality in early learning. I absolutely disagree. I have great faith in the commitment and the capacity of the Head Start community to rise to the challenge." The standards for high-quality early learning include a bachelor's degree for teachers; low staff-to-child ratios and small class sizes; a full-day program; employee salaries comparable to those for K-12 teaching staff; and developmentally appropriate, evidence-based curricula and learning environments.
Third, the Secretary released a poignant op-ed on early learning, emphasizing, "We cannot let this opportunity pass, to fulfill that promise of providing equal educational opportunity."
Notably, the Department also just sent to states non-regulatory guidance on the use of Title I funds for high-quality preschool programs.
This week, Secretary Duncan announced the 2013 class of U.S. Presidential Scholars. This program was established by Executive Order in 1964 to honor academic achievement by graduating high school seniors. It was expanded in 1979 to honor students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the arts. Each year, 141 students are named, including at least one young man and woman from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and American families living abroad. Another 15 students are chosen at-large, and 20 students are scholars in the arts. Over 3,300 candidates qualified on the basis of outstanding ACT or SAT scores and through nominations by Chief State School Officers or the National YoungArts Foundation's nationwide YoungArts competition. The Commission on Presidential Scholarsappointed by President Obamaselects the finalists. Scholars will be recognized at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on June 16.
Completing the FAFSA
Beginning with the 2014-15 federal student aid form, the Department willfor the first timecollect income and other information from a dependent student's legal parents, regardless of the parents' marital status or gender, if those parents live together. More specifically, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will provide a new option for dependent applicants to describe their parents' marital status as "unmarried and both parents living together." Also, where appropriate, the new form will use terms like "Parent 1" and "Parent 2" instead of gender-specific terms like "Mother" and "Father." These changes will allow the agency to more precisely calculate federal student aid eligibility based on what a student's whole family is able to contribute and ensure taxpayer dollars are better targeted toward those students who have the most need, as well as provide an inclusive form that reflects the diversity of American families.
"As citizens, we understand that it's not about what America can do for us. It's about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but absolutely necessary work of self-government. And, Class of 2013, you have to be involved in that process," President Obama told Ohio State University's latest graduating class. The President pitched for civic connectionfor participation in public life, for engagement in national debates, for community service. He also pointed to those who stand up in moments of crisis as examples. "We've seen courage and compassion, a sense of civic duty, and a recognition we are not a collection of strangers. We are bound to one another by a set of ideals and laws and commitments, and a deep devotion to this country that we love," he said. "And that's what citizenship is." Above all, he urged graduates to break through the cynicism that too often cripples progress in this nation. "Only you can ensure the democracy you inherit is as good as we know it can be," he noted. "But, it requires your dedicated, and informed, and engaged citizenship. That citizenship is a harder, higher road to take, but it leads to a better place."
Also, yesterday, the President traveled to Austin, Texas, for the first in a series of Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tours. He visited Manor New Tech High School, where students are learning critical skills for today's jobs, and meet technology entrepreneurs who are creating the tools and products that will drive America's long-term economic growth.
Odds and Ends
Following the launch of the 2013 Investing in Innovation (i3) "Development" competitionwhich resulted in nearly 600 pre-applicationsthe Department announced the start of i3's "Validation" and "Scale-up" competitions. While the agency continues to focus on broad priorities, this year's competition includes subparts under each priority to target specific areas of need and builds a portfolio of solutions to address specific challenges. Complementing the Administration's proposals to increase access to high-quality early learning opportunities, the Department has included an invitational priority in both categories of grants for applicants working on delivering high-quality early learning programs.
The Department's Office of Safe and Healthy Students awarded Windham Central Supervisory Union in southern Vermont a Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant totaling over $48,000 to help with ongoing recovery efforts following the suicide of a 16-year-old student.
Updated state budget tables detail Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations, including the effect of the sequester and an across-the-board cut in the final appropriations bill.
Secretary Duncan's recent speech to American Educational Research Association (AERA), "Choosing the Right Battles: Remarks and a Conversation," examined the major issues facing students, educators, policymakers, and other key stakeholders in today's education environment.
A letter from Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Seth Galanter concerns the prohibition against retaliation under federal civil rights laws.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin experienced how the Healthy School Campaign has helped build innovative partnerships and strong parental support during a visit to Chicago's Nathanael Greene Elementary School.
The Department proudly hosted the opening of the "Flint Arts on the Road" student art exhibit.
A Notice of Proposed Priority and Requirements for the Education Facilities Clearinghouse was published in the Federal Register on May 9, with comments due on June 10.
Quote to Note
"The teachers I talk to don't question the need for broad change. They are enthusiastic about instruction that emphasizes depth rather than coverage, worthy literature to read, and real world problems to solve. They passionately want to be part of helping more students get prepared for college and career. But, many have told me that the pace of change is causing real anxiety. I've heard that, given the newness of the college- and career-ready standards, teachers really want to see what they're aiming for. They want models of excellence that they can study. And, it feels like the change is happening all at once.... There's no question in my mind that raising the bar for our students is necessary and that America's educators are up to it. But, I want to call on the other adults in the system to redouble their efforts to support our teachers through this change."
|||Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (5/7/13), in an op-ed on supporting teachers|
Members of the public are invited to participate in a facilitated online dialogue examining the impact of existing federal regulations and legislation on the successful transition from school to work of youth and young adults with disabilities. The Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor, as well as the Social Security Administration, will co-host the dialogue May 13-27. Input received during the dialogue will help these agencies improve policies, practices, and interagency strategic planning.
The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) will host a series of funding opportunities webinars in May and June.
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