Press Room NEWSLETTERS
March 6, 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...
ESEA Update
Focus on Early Learning
Education Budget Hearing
Focus on Higher Education
Model Terms of Service
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

ESEA Update

In a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP), the Obama Administration signaled its strong opposition to H.R. 5, the proposed legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). "Congress must act in a bipartisan manner to reform ESEA to help states prepare all children for college and careers by giving them flexibility from No Child Left Behind mandates," the SAP states. "However, H.R. 5 [in its current form] represents a significant step backwards in the effort to help all of the nation's children and their families prepare for their futures.... If the President was presented with H.R. 5, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill."

Also, building on a White House Domestic Policy Council report, the Department released new data detailing the impact of potential cuts to school districts serving high concentrations of African-American and Hispanic students as a result of H.R. 5. The data shows that the House measure would provide the largest 33 districts with high concentrations of black and Hispanic students over $3 billion less in federal funding than the President's budget over six years. These cuts would be the result of locking in funding at sequestration levels and allowing states to divert funding from the schools serving vulnerable student populations to wealthier districts.

In addition, a New York Times editorial urged Congress not to "back away from important reforms," and Secretary Duncan penned new ESEA op-eds on increasing access to preschool and expanding opportunity.

On February 27, House leaders postponed a floor vote on H.R. 5. Senate education leaders are continuing work on a bipartisan bill.

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Focus on Early Learning

Last week, Secretary Duncan and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Learning Libby Doggett stopped by Patrick Henry Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, to highlight the importance of early learning with a group of parents, teachers, administrators, and community leaders. The school runs a preschool-through-fifth-grade program and has eight preschool classes. Teachers shared their enthusiasm for the benefits that preschool brings to their classroom. "I've been teaching kindergarten for 19 years, and I've not had a classroom like this—ever," declared Lori Shabazz, a 2014 Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teaching Award winner. "Each kindergarten teacher should get this experience—a class that's ready for kindergarten." (Note: In a blog post, Latoya Smith, chair of the District of Columbia Public Schools' Early Childhood Education Policy Council, reiterates the importance of early learning for every child.)

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Education Budget Hearing

This week, the Secretary testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies on the President's Fiscal Year 2016 budget request. The proposal includes key investments to expand high-quality early learning programs; increase equity and opportunity for all students; support teachers and school leaders; and improve access, affordability, and student outcomes in college. The hearing was webcast (video), and the Secretary's testimony is available here.

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Focus on Higher Education

Following an exhaustive review of records, the Department announced it will wind down contracts with five private collection agencies that were providing inaccurate information to borrowers. The agency also announced it will provide enhanced Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Unfair, Deceptive, or Abusive Acts or Practices monitoring and guidance for all private collection agencies under federal contract, to ensure that companies are consistently providing borrowers with accurate information regarding their loans. "Federal student aid borrowers are entitled to accurate information as they make critical choices to manage their debt," said Under Secretary Ted Mitchell. "Every company that works for the Department must keep consumers' best interests at the heart of their business practices by providing borrowers clear and accurate guidance. It is our responsibility—and our commitment—to uphold the highest standards of service for America's student borrowers and consumers."

Also, First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary Duncan recently sat down with Don Francisco, host of Univision's longest-running television show, Sábado Gigante, to discuss the importance of completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The message is simple: "¡Estudia, Hay Dinero!" or "There's Money to Study!" Students at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, heard the First Lady tell her story of achieving her dreams by going to college, then gathered in the school's computer lab to fill out the FAFSA with the help of counselors and staff from the Department's Office of Federal Student Aid (blog post).

Meanwhile, the agency has published public feedback regarding the college ratings system framework.

Furthermore, the agency is seeking input from stakeholders on the 2015 First In the World grants and Online Skills Academy (blog post).

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Model Terms of Service

Last month, the Department released model terms of service guidance and a training video aimed at helping schools and districts protect student privacy while using online educational services and applications. The guidance offers examples of terms of service provisions to help school officials identify which online educational services and applications have strong privacy and data security policies and practices. The video provides a summary of the issue, as well as examples to help school officials identify which online educational services and applications protect student data from improper use and disclosure. (Note: School officials can check if a company has signed the Student Privacy Pledge from the Future of Privacy Forum and the Software and Information Industry Association.)

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Odds and Ends

  • On consecutive days, Secretary Duncan visited Maryland and Delaware to get a first-hand look at the incredible progress made in education throughout these states.

  • In celebration of the anniversary of the My Brother's Keeper Initiative, the MBK task force issued a one-year progress report to the President. Also, President Obama sat down for an interview with White House mentee Noah McQueen, who was helped by the initiative.

  • The Administration has partnered with the Peace Corps to support girls' education around the world. The Let Girls Learn Initiative will back hundreds of community projects—from building new libraries to providing resources so that girls have an easier time getting there—all with an emphasis on keeping girls in school.

  • Every year, a handful of National Blue Ribbon Schools are profiled in short videos.

  • Since 1983, the President's Education Awards Program(PEAP) has bestowed individual recognition from the President to students whose outstanding efforts have enabled them to meet challenging standards of excellence. School principals determine the number of qualifying students based on selection criteria and verify orders for awards. There is no limit on the number of awards, as long as students meet the criteria. Students receive a certificate and letter signed by the President and Secretary. Last year, three million elementary, middle, and high school students from 30,000 schools were so recognized under PEAP.

  • A blog post revisits the "12 for Life" program in Georgia. This cooperative education program was developed in 2007 by the Southwire company and targets those youth who are at the greatest risk of not completing high school.

  • The "Making Skills Everyone's Business" report emphasizes that addressing the challenge of adult skill development must be a fully shared responsibility. This report lays out seven strategies for establishing convenient, effective, quality learning opportunities.

  • To help school administrators and emergency management personnel create or revise their emergency operations plans (EOPs), the Department-funded Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance Center issued a free, web-accessible software application: EOP ASSIST. The application walks users through a six-step process for creating and downloading a customized school EOP.

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Quote to Note

"In 2013, policymakers came together on a bipartisan basis to partially reverse sequestration and to pay for higher discretionary funding levels with long-term reforms. We have seen the positive consequences of that bipartisan agreement for our ability to invest in the future, including partially restoring cuts in education programs like Title I and IDEA. We have also seen the positive consequences for our economy, which is experiencing the fastest job growth since the late 1990s.... The President has made clear that he will not accept a budget that undoes our progress by locking in sequestration, which would bring real defense and non-defense funding to the lowest levels in a decade. As the Joint Chiefs and others have outlined, that would damage our national security. It would also damage our economy, preventing us from making pro-growth investments in areas ranging from basic research to education. As the President has stated, he will not accept a budget that severs the vital link between our national and economic security."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (3/4/15), in testimony on the President's FY 2016 budget request

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Upcoming Events

Today, the Department and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) will hold a Teach to Lead Leadership Lab in Hartford, Connecticut. This lab is the second in a series convened by Teach to Lead, a joint initiative of the Department, NBPTS, and 70 supporter organizations. The goal of the labs is to introduce this teacher-led effort to state and local stakeholders for potential support, further the teachers' strategic planning work, and explore collaboration with other schools and districts to support at-risk populations.

Banff, Alberta, Canada will be hosting this year's International Summit on the Teaching Profession (March 29 and 30), bringing together education ministers and senior leaders of teachers unions and associations from many high-performing and rapidly improving education systems. This summit has emerged as one of the most important forums in the world for dialogue on education transformation.

Every March, in recognition of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' National Nutrition Month, communities and families across the country focus on good nutrition. This year's theme, "Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle," encourages everyone to adopt both healthful eating and physical activity habits.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

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Last Modified: 03/06/2015