Press Room NEWSLETTERS
December 5, 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...
Ferguson: Broken Trust
White House Events
Strengthening Teacher Preparation
Student Aid Conferences
Performance Partnership Pilots
President's Actions on Immigration
Odds and Ends
Upcoming Events

Ferguson: Broken Trust

The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, have been on the minds of many of us at the Department. Secretary Duncan addressed the topic in a staff-wide email message just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Because of the importance of the topic, his message (excerpted below) was subsequently posted on the Homeroom blog.

"Like many of you, I have been troubled by the death of Michael Brown, the tragic loss to his family and his community, and what has been happening in Ferguson, Missouri, over recent months and over the past 36 hours.

"We come to work... each day because we believe in the world that is possible when equity and justice and peace and opportunity are a reality in the lives of our communities and our young people. Thus, it is especially difficult to watch the scenes of violence and unrest in Ferguson. Evident in those scenes is a broken trust that exists within communities well beyond Missouri, between people—particularly those of color—and the official institutions that are there to serve them.

"I must stress that non-violence is the most powerful strategy, and the only path to a real solution. But, what we are seeing in Ferguson speaks to some important and deep issues that won't be resolved just by bringing quiet to the streets there.

"For our young people to succeed, they have to be connected, to know that they have a stake, to have opportunities open to them, to trust in our legal system, and to trust that the adults and society... have their best interests in heart. I worry when young people may have lost their trust in our system of laws and democracy and become disconnected.... I believe that this alienation, lack of trust, and disconnect is how we start to lose some of our young people, especially in communities of color. I believe it is our job as adults to do everything we can to rebuilt that trust—in Ferguson and throughout the country.

"Solving those problems and setting communities on a path to trust isn't a quick fix. Relationships are built—or damaged—over time. We should take away from Ferguson that we need a conversation to rebuild those relationships, throughout the country, and that need is urgent. It needs to involve everyone—our young people, our parents, our schools, our faith communities, our government officials, and the police. It needs to happen now."

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White House Events

'Tis the season for major education events at the White House:

  • This week, the President and Vice President hosted the White House Tribal Nations Conference, devoting a significant part of the event to protecting Native youth and helping them succeed. During the conference, the Administration released a report detailing barriers Native youth face in school and in life. The President also announced a new initiative—Generation Indigenous—to provide new opportunities for Native youth (see fact sheet and view the President's remarks).
  • Also this week, the President, Vice President, and First Lady hosted the second White House College Opportunity Summit, announcing 600 actions to help more students prepare for and complete college. These actions, taken by college presidents, education leaders, and other organizations, will reach hundreds of thousands of students over the coming years and focus on one of four areas: building networks of colleges promoting completion; creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness; investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady's Reach Higher initiative; and increasing the number of college graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields (see fact sheet and view the President's remarks, Vice President's remarks, and First Lady's remarks).
  • Next week, on December 10, the President will host the White House Summit on Early Learning, featuring announcement of this year's federal Preschool Development Grants and Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Grants.
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Strengthening Teacher Preparation

Before the holiday, the Department announced proposed regulations to help ensure that teacher training programs are preparing educators who are ready to succeed in the classroom. The proposal builds upon the innovations and reforms already happening at the state and program level across the country and by national organizations like the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The proposal shifts the focus for currently required state reporting on teacher preparation programs from mostly inputs to outcomes—such as how graduates are performing in the classroom—while giving states flexibility to determine how they will use the new measures and how program performance is measured.

"It has long been clear that, as a nation, we could do a far better job of preparing teachers for the classroom. It's not just something that studies show. I hear it in my conversation with teachers, principals, and parents," Secretary Duncan stressed. "New teachers want to do a great job for their kids, but, too often, they struggle at the beginning of their careers and have to figure out too much for themselves. This proposal, along with our other key initiatives in supporting flexibility, equity, and leadership, will help get us closer to President Obama's goal of putting a great teacher in every classroom, especially within our high-need schools."

Specifically, the proposed regulations would encourage states to:

  • develop meaningful systems to identify high- and low-performing teacher preparation programs across all kinds of programs, not just those based at colleges and universities;
  • reward only those programs determined to be effective by states with eligibility for TEACH grants, which are available to students who are planning to become teachers in a high-need field and in a low-income school, to make sure that these limited federal funds support high-quality teacher preparation; and
  • offer transparency into the performance of teacher preparation programs, creating a feedback loop among programs and prospective teachers, employers, and the public and empowering programs with information to facilitate continuous improvement.

The proposal is undergoing a 60-day comment period, during which the public can submit suggestions.

Want to learn more? The Department's teacher preparation web page links to a press release, press call, blog post, fact sheet, and PowerPoint presentation.

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Student Aid Conferences

On consecutive days in Atlanta, Under Secretary Ted Mitchell addressed the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Servicing Summit (remarks) and the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Training Conference. In both settings, he discussed the Administration's efforts to promote innovation and competition in the higher education marketplace by demonstrating new approaches that can improve learning and reduce costs. He also provided an overview of the steps the Administration has taken as part of the President's Year of Action, including improved servicing and a commitment to extend access to the Pay as You Earn repayment option. Additionally, he gave an update on the Administration's proposal to create a college rating system aimed at providing useful information to students and families and encouraging institutions to improve.

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Performance Partnership Pilots

States, municipalities, and tribes can now apply to become a Performance Partnership Pilot (P3), to test innovative, outcome-focused strategies for achieving significant improvements in educational, employment, and other key results for disconnected youth. This initiative enables up to 10 pilots to blend together funds that they already receive from different discretionary programs administered by the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. Moreover, pilots will receive start-up grants of up to $700,000. The Notice Inviting Applications is posted online. Be sure to check out the blog post and archived national webinar.

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President's Actions On Immigration

In response to the President's executive actions on immigration (see here and here), the Secretary issued the following statement:

"Absent congressional action, President Obama has taken a number of common sense steps to address our broken immigration system that will keep families together and expand educational opportunities for so many currently living in the shadows. These executive actions will not only help our nation's immigrant families to succeed, they will also help sustain America's economic competitiveness into the future. Like the President, I believe our neighbors, our classmates, our friends came here to work and study and, above all, contribute to America's success. The U.S. Department of Education has provided a number of resources to support immigrant students and families navigate the educational system, such as guidance on the Plyler decision, and is committed to continuing its efforts in their area."

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Odds And Ends

  • Regarding student assessments, Secretary Duncan offered remarks at the swearing-in ceremony of new members to National Assessment Governing Board and sat down for the latest installment of the "Ask Arne" video series with Teacher Ambassador Fellow Emily Davis.

  • A new report released by the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services outlines progress in the 14 states awarded Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grants in 2012 and 2013. States are improving the quality of their early learning programs, and more at-risk children are attending high-quality centers.

  • The Department reinstated Oklahoma's authority to implement flexibility from certain provisions of No Child Left Behind, after the State Regents for Higher Education certified the previous standards are college- and career-ready.

  • The Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released guidance for K-12 schools that offer or want to offer single-sex classes. In response to inquiries about the legality of single-sex classes, OCR's guidance charts a basic path for schools on how they can provide boys- or girls-only instruction while remaining in compliance with civil rights laws.

  • The 2014 Open Doors Reporton International Educational Exchange found that the number of international students at colleges and universities in the U.S. increased by 8%, to a record high of 886,052 in the 2013-14 academic year, while U.S. students studying abroad increased by 2%.

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Upcoming Events

This weekend in Louisville is the first Teach to Lead regional Teacher Leadership Summit. In these working meetings, participants and supporter organizations will share resources and collaborate to create plans of action. Future summits will be held in Denver (January 10-11) and Boston (February 7-8).

Through January 20, 2015, submissions are open for the second White House Student Film Festival. This year's theme is "The Impact of Giving Back." U.S. students, grades K-12, are asked to tell a story about paying it forward, about community service, or what making a difference looks in their eyes and through their lens. It can be a fictional story or a short documentary. And, it can be quite short. In fact, films cannot be more than three minutes. The official selections will be featured on the White House's web site and shared across the world via official social media accounts. If selected, students may also have a chance to attend the film festival at the White House.

The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in partnership with other federal agencies, is seeking applications from after-school and out-of-school programs for the 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards. Twelve applicants will receive $10,000. The deadline for applications is February 2, 2015.

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Last Modified: 12/05/2014