Press Room NEWSLETTERS
July 24, 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...
Parent Checklist
ESEA Reauthorization
LinkedIn Post On Teaching
Rethinking School Discipline
Reforming Criminal Justice
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Parent Checklist

In follow-up to Secretary Duncan's announcement of a set of rights that outlines what families should be able to expect for their children's education, the Department, America Achieves, the National Council of La Raza, the National Parent Teacher Association, and the United Negro College Fund released a parent checklist with questions and resources that parents and caregivers can use to help ensure their children are getting the education they deserve. "I have never met a parent who doesn't want the best for their child. However, it can be hard for families to know how to support their child's education," asserted the Secretary. "Engaging with their educators is a good place to start. This tool provides families with questions to ask to ensure schools are providing all students with an education that will prepare them for college and careers" (see press release, blog post, and web site).

The checklist suggests "key questions" in the following areas:

  • Quality: Is my child getting a great education?
  • Reading for Success: Will my child be prepared to succeed in whatever comes next?
  • Safe & Healthy: Is my child safe and cared for at school?
  • Great Teachers: Is my child engaged and learning every day?
  • Equity & Fairness: Does my child, and every child at my child's school or program, have the opportunity to succeed and be treated fairly?

The checklist also includes ways educators suggest parents can support their children's success in school, such as:

  • set high expectations for your child;
  • make sure your child is in school every day and on time;
  • work collaboratively with your child's teachers and talk to them about goals and expectations for your child;
  • talk to your child each day about what he or she is doing in school and discuss what he or she learned;
  • encourage your child to complete assignments and see that he or she finishes them;
  • attend parent-teacher conferences; and
  • participate in family engagement and volunteer opportunities.

Additionally, the checklist suggests next steps for families to take if their child is not getting a quality education, along with resources for further information.

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ESEA Reauthorization

Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate each passed their own Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill. In the coming weeks, House and Senate designees will meet in conference committee to negotiate a compromise bill. Secretary Duncan issued a statement on the Senate bill, and the Department released an infographic on progress under ESEA and work remaining.

"We applaud the progress made in the Senate today toward replacing the flawed No Child Left Behind Act," the Secretary noted. "We need a new law that gives every child an opportunity to succeed. This bill would give states more flexibility from one-size-fits-all federal mandates and reduce the burden of testing on classroom time, while still ensuring that parents and educators know how students are doing every year. I'm particularly pleased that the bill would expand access to high-quality preschool and direct taxpayer dollars toward proven innovative strategies. I commend the hard work of Chairman [Lamar] Alexander, Senator [Patty] Murray, and their colleagues to get us this far.

"However, this bill still falls short of truly giving every child a fair shot at success by failing to ensure that parents and children can count on local leaders to take action, when students are struggling to learn. We need to identify which schools work and which ones don't, so we can guarantee every child will have the education they need. We can't tolerate continued indifference to the lowest-performing schools, achievement gaps that let some students fall behind, or high schools where huge numbers of students never make it to graduation. This bill should also do more to maintain focus on what matters most—whether students are actually learning and graduating, and whether those that need the greatest help receive the resources and support they need. I look forward to working with Chairman Alexander, Senator Murray, Chairman [John] Kline, and Representative [Bobby] Scott—as well as their colleagues—to strengthen the final bill before it reaches the President's desk."

The Secretary's brief statement on the House bill is available here.

Also: On July 23, the Department announced that seven additional states have received approval for continued flexibility from provisions of ESEA. These recipients are implementing comprehensive, state-designed plans to ensure student success and a continued commitment to college- and career-readiness for every student. Tennessee has four more years of flexibility, through the 2018-19 school year; Alaska, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, and Oregon have three additional years of flexibility, through the 2017-18 school year; and, as requested, Utah has one more year of flexibility, through the 2015-16 school year. (Note: Approved flexibility requests and renewal letters are available here.)

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LinkedIn Post On Teaching

This week, the Secretary shared his first post on LinkedIn, on the future of the teaching profession and how, in many places, education is being put back in the hands of teachers. "It does not take a federal initiative or a state program for teachers to solve the biggest challenges in education," he said. "Yet, for teachers to truly lead large-scale transformation, state and local systems must be willing to provide teachers both time and training to exercise leadership. We, at the federal level support and encourage their efforts." The Secretary also highlighted the teacher-led turnaround at Lehigh Senior High School.

Meanwhile, 175 teacher leaders and other educators and advocates have gathered in Washington, D.C., to share strategies and build plans to advance teacher leadership in their schools, school districts, and states. The event is the latest in a series of regional summits convened by Teach to Lead, a joint effort of the Department and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, with 80+ supporting organizations ("This is Teach to Lead" video).

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Rethinking School Discipline

Also this week, the Departments of Education and Justice hosted teams of superintendents, principals, and teachers from across the country for "Rethink Discipline," a day-long conference at the White House on creating positive school climates and implementing effective discipline practices. The conference was designed to advance the national conversation about reducing unnecessary out-of-school suspensions and expulsions and replacing these practices with positive alternatives that keep students in school and engaged in learning.

According to data from the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), over three million students are suspended or expelled every year. At the event, the agencies released new maps based on the CRDC data, illustrating out-of-school suspensions to help educators and communities understand the extent of this practice. The maps clearly demonstrate how Southeastern districts have the highest rates of out-of-school suspensions in the nation and students with disabilities are widely and frequently suspended:

  • Percent of students who have received one or more out-of-school suspensions by district—map and data table.
  • Percent of students with disabilities who have received one or more out-of-school suspensions by district—map and data table.

The agencies also shared new resources to assist school leaders in their efforts:

On July 27, the Justice Department is launching the National Resource Center for School Justice Partnerships, which will serve as a training and technical assistance portal for juvenile courts, schools, law enforcement agencies, and others to support reform efforts at the local level. And, in the coming weeks and months, the Education Department will use social media events, blogs, and other approaches to engage the field about new tools and resources to help communities. For more information about the Administration's work on school climate and discipline, visit the Rethinking Discipline web site.

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Reforming Criminal Justice

Last week, President Obama addressed the NAACP National Convention, laying out reasons we need to reform the criminal justice system and invest in communities—expanding opportunity for all Americans. "Every year, we spend $80 billion to keep folks incarcerated," he revealed. "Now, just to put that into perspective, for $80 billion, we could have universal preschool for every three-year-old and four-year-old in America.... For $80 billion, we could double the salary of every high school teacher in the country. For what we spend to keep everyone locked up for a year, we could eliminate tuition at every single one of our public colleges and universities."

Moreover, a new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisors examines the barriers that disadvantaged youth face, particularly young men of color, and quantifies the enormous costs this poses to the U.S. economy. In particular, the report focuses on the significant disparities in education, exposure to the criminal justice system, and employment that persist between young men of color and other Americans.

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Odds and Ends

  • In an East Room ceremony, the President celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), spotlighting that more people with disabilities are in the workforce today than at any point in the last 30 years because of the legislation.

  • First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed 130 students to the 2015 Beating the Odds Summit. Part of the First Lady's Reach Higher initiative, the summit included a mix of urban, rural, special needs, homeless, foster, and under-represented youth who have overcome substantial obstacles to persist through high school and make it to college.

  • In a blog post, Under Secretary Ted Mitchell seeks to engage broadly with the field to help deepen understanding of how to recognize high-quality, non-traditional programs in higher education.

  • The Department has awarded $270 million to 968 institutions under the Student Support Services (SSS) Program, providing thousands of students with the academic and support services they need to succeed in college. SSS is one of seven federal TRIO programs—outreach and student services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, low-income students, first-generation college students, individuals with disabilities, foster care youth, and homeless children and youth, helping them progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.

  • The Department recently invited transgender students to speak about their school experiences at a roundtable discussion with Secretary Duncan and senior officials.

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Quote to Note

"I was deeply saddened today to learn of the passing of Dr. George Cooper. Dr. Cooper made a tremendous contribution that has benefitted countless students in a full and extraordinary career. Throughout his life, he was committed to promoting excellence, innovation, and sustainability across our nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). He provided the wisdom and direction needed to form important partnerships between HBCUs and the federal government. He was staunchly committed to student development and success. This Administration has truly benefited from Dr. Cooper's leadership and will continue our service and advocacy for HBCUs in a manner that follows his passion, persistence, and humility."

        Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (7/20/15), in a statement on the passing of Dr. George Cooper, executive director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs

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Upcoming Events

On July 27, the Secretary will join higher education leaders nationwide at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County for a conversation on the future of America's higher education system, including how colleges and universities are equipping students to be successful and how the Department can help ensure all Americans can earn an affordable, high-quality college degree. He will open with remarks on his vision before moderating a panel discussion that will feature innovative approaches that institutions are taking to increase access, affordability, and completion.

Green Apple Day of Service, on Saturday, September 26, gives students, parents, teachers, businesses, and local organizations the opportunity to transform schools into safe, healthy, and productive learning environments through local service projects. Find an event in your area or post your own.

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Last Modified: 07/24/2015