Press Room NEWSLETTERS
January 23, 2015

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...
State of the Union
Protecting Identity and Privacy
Secretary's Vision for ESEA
Improving Education: View from Classroom
Future Ready Regional Summits
New ED.gov Home Page
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

State of the Union

On January 20, President Obama delivered his 2015 State of the Union address, reflecting his strong belief that education is a vital investment in America's economic competitiveness, in its communities, and in its people (see education excerpts). In his speech, the President noted the significant educational progress that our nation's schools, teachers, and students have made—including young students performing at record levels in reading and mathematics, an all-time high graduation rate (81% in 2012-13, up from 80% in 2011-12), and more Americans finishing college than ever before. But, while celebrating progress, he also noted we must work to ensure that education lives up to its promise of growing and strengthening the middle class and helping more young people to achieve their greatest potential (fact sheet).

The President committed to his recently announced America's College Promise proposal, which would make two years of community college free for students who earn good grades and stay on track to graduate, and he asked more businesses to offer educational benefits and paid apprenticeships, giving workers the chance to advance in their careers. He also pledged to make high-quality child care more available and affordable for every low-income and middle class family with young children and to extend the reach of technology and the Internet into every classroom.

Also:

  • Students and educators were guests of First Lady Michelle Obama during the State of the Union.
  • Immediately after the speech, Secretary Duncan participated in a #SOTU Twitter chat.
  • The White House hosted its second annual virtual "Big Block of Cheese Day," during which Administration officials took to social media to answer questions from citizens in real time.
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Protecting Identity and Privacy

In the lead-up to the State of the Union, the President stopped by the Federal Trade Commission offices to discuss better protecting consumers from identity theft and safeguarding everyone's privacy, including our children's. He laid out a number of steps and proposals, from introducing legislation to create a single, national standard protecting Americans from identity theft to putting forward a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. Moreover, he proposed a Student Digital Privacy Act, to prevent companies from selling student data to third parties for purposes other than education (fact sheet).

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Secretary's Vision for ESEA

Last week, at Seaton Elementary School in Washington, D.C., Secretary Duncan laid out his vision for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that continues a focus on the nation's most vulnerable students. In a speech (text and video) on the 50th anniversary of the nation's cornerstone education law, the Secretary called for scrapping the broken No Child Left Behind Act—the current version of ESEA—and replacing it with a version that prepares children for college and careers and delivers on the promise of equity and opportunity for every child, including minority students, low-income students, English language learners, and students with disabilities. He was joined on site by civil rights leaders, educators, members of Congress, and community leaders, who affirmed ESEA's critical role in protecting the rights of all students to a quality education that will position them up for success.

The Secretary called on Congress to improve access to high-quality preschool in the law. He also announced that President Obama will propose a $2.7 billion increase in the budget for schools, including $1 billion more in Title I funding for the most vulnerable students.

Additionally, the Secretary proposed new steps to reduce the burden of testing and test preparation on classroom time and to limit unnecessary testing in schools—without sacrificing annual state assessments that give educators and parents the information they need to help every child be successful. And, he pushed for more support for states and school districts that pursue bold innovations and act on evidence about what works.

"Let me be clear: if we walk away from responsibility as a country—if we make our national education responsibilities optional—we would turn back the clock on educational progress," the Secretary asserted. "For the sake of our national promise and the health of our economy, every single young person should be able to look forward to a future that holds promise. And, when so many states and districts have put in place building blocks to sustain educational progress, when so many educators are working so hard to raise the bar for their students and support them in getting there, reversing course would be a terrible mistake."

To learn more:

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Improving Education: View from Classroom

Teachers across the country are working together to increase student success. They are learning from data, from test scores to parent feedback, and focusing on students' strengths in order for them to learn at a higher level. To get a closer look at how classrooms are being transformed, the Department launched a behind-the-scenes video series. The second video in the series, "Improving Education: The View from Harvey Jones Elementary School," features the principal, teachers, and students of a Springdale, Arkansas, school. See how the school incorporates collaboration and data into its classrooms.

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Future Ready Regional Summits

The Department's Office of Educational Technology, in partnership with the Alliance for Excellent Education and with support from the Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission and a coalition of more than 36 content partners, is hosting a series of Future Ready Regional Summits to help school district leaders improve teaching and student learning outcomes through the effective use of technology. The summits follow a ConnectED to the Future convening hosted by President Obama at the White House that involved 115 local superintendents from across the country. The summits offer district leaders expert support to create digital learning plans that align with instructional best practices, are implemented by highly trained teachers, and lead to personalized learning experiences for all students.

The summits are open to district leadership teams on a first-come, first-served basis from districts where the superintendents have signed the Future Ready District Pledge. They kick off next month in Raleigh, North Carolina, on February 11 and 12, and Vancouver, Washington, on February 17 and 18. In March, the summits are in Baltimore, on March 2 and 3, and Atlanta, on March 25 and 26.

The summits are an important step to realizing the goals of the ConnectED initiative announced by the President in 2013 to connect 99% of students to high-speed Internet and empower teachers with the technology they need to truly transform teaching and learning.

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New ED.gov Home Page

The Department just launched its new ED.gov home page. This completes the third and final phase of visual refresh for the agency's main web site. So, what's different?

  • Streamlined Home Page. There are fewer links and more open space on the home page. To decide what links and content are on the home page, the Department's web team used data obtained through feedback tools. The most popular, high traffic sections and web pages on the web site have a spot on the home page or in the navigation; links that do not receive many clicks moved to pages a level down.
  • More Mobile-Friendly. The entire web site offers a mobile-friendly web experience. The web site and blog content use responsive design and Bootstrap styling, which means each page automatically adjusts to the size of one's smartphone or tablet. There is no need to pinch and scroll to read text on a phone.
  • Online Press Room Updates. Press content—press releases, media advisories, and speeches—are more easily readable anytime, anywhere, on any device. Users can get to the online press room by visiting ED.gov/news or clicking on the "More News" link on the home page. Also, the refreshed video page pulls in a feed of most recently posted videos.

We hope these updates improve your online experience! If you have comments or suggestions, please share them on the Homeroom blog.

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Quote to Note

"I want our actions to tell every child in every neighborhood: your life matters, and we are as committed to improving your life chances as we are to working on behalf of our own kids."

        President Barack Obama (1/20/15), in his State of the Union address

"There is agreement it is time to replace No Child Left Behind, and I look forward to working with [Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee] Chairman [Lamar] Alexander, Senator [Patty] Murray, and others in Congress to create a bipartisan law that accelerates the progress of our schools, protects civil rights, provides access to quality preschool, and supports children and educators.... I appreciate that Senator Alexander plans to discuss his draft with his colleagues and to solicit public feedback, but I am also concerned his proposal makes optional far too much of what the law needs to ensure the promise of its title. There is much we can debate in reauthorizing this law—and areas for productive compromise—but Congress must not abdicate its responsibility to help all children succeed, must protect our most vulnerable children, and must build on what we've learned about supporting bold state and local innovation."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (1/14/15), in a statement on Senator Alexander's ESEA proposal

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Upcoming Events

Among other observations, February is African-American History Month, Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month, and National Magnet School Awareness Month.

With over 200 members, the new Readiness and Emergency Management (REMS) Technical Assistance Center Community of Practice is a virtual space for those working in and affected by the field of emergency management for schools and institutions of higher education. Joining the community is easy. Visit here and select "Join" at the bottom of the page.

The fourth biennial USA Science and Engineering Festival, featuring more than 1,000 participating corporations and organizations and over 3,000 hands-on exhibits and stage shows, will take place April 15-17, 2016, in Washington, D.C. And, once again, the festival will feature several contests for K-12 students. Currently, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) Classroom Design Prize challenges students to design creative strategies for engaging more women in computer science and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields by altering classroom environments.

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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: 01/23/2015