Press Room NEWSLETTERS
October 2, 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...
Statement on Roseburg
Schools Instead of Prisons
Blue Ribbon Schools
Focus on Higher Education
English Learner Toolkit
Improving Charter Schools
Odds and Ends
Upcoming Events

Statement on Roseburg

Yesterday, President Obama delivered a statement on the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Some excerpts:

"In the coming days, we'll learn about the victims—young men and women who were studying and learning and working hard, their eyes set on the future, their dreams on what they could make of their lives. And America will wrap everyone who's grieving with our prayers and our love. But as I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It's not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And, it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America—next week, or a couple of months from now."

"We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months."

"This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months.... We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations, doesn't make sense."

"Tonight, as those of us who are lucky enough to hug our kids a little closer are thinking about the families who aren't so fortunate, I'd ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save lives, and to let young people grow up."

Secretary Duncan also issued a statement: "Tonight, my thoughts are with both the students and families at Umpqua Community College. We have lost bright students and dedicated educators to gun violence in more than 30 school shootings this year alone—an unconscionable reality of American life. We must do more to keep our students and communities safe, and I pledge the full support of my Department to the Roseburg community during this heartbreaking time."

Top


Schools Instead of Prisons

On September 30, speaking at the National Press Club, Secretary Duncan delivered remarks on the intersection of race, class, education, and criminal justice in America, offering a bold idea to dramatically enhance opportunity where it has been sorely lacking. Specifically, he discussed what it would look like if state and local leaders invested in schools instead of prisons. He noted that, if states and localities took only half the people convicted of non-violent crimes and found paths for them other than incarceration, they would save upwards of $15 billion a year (state-by-state analysis).

"The bet we're making now is clear," the Secretary said. "In the last three decades, state and local correctional spending in this country has increased almost twice as fast as spending on elementary and secondary education. Ask yourself, what does that say about what we believe? Leaders at the state and local levels have the power to change that—to place a bet on getting it right with kids from the start and on the power of great teaching in particular."

With $15 billion, leaders could provide teachers working in the nation's 17,640 highest-need schools with an average salary increase of more than 50%. Alternatively, leaders could take a quarter of those funds and use it to support teacher leadership, creating five positions at each of those high-poverty schools for accomplished teachers who would mentor their peers—and giving those teachers $25,000 pay increases.

"I'm not naïve about doing all of this overnight," the Secretary added. "For those already in the system, we can't just walk away from them. We also have to invest in education, career training, treatment, and support programs that help young people who are already involved in the criminal justice system become contributing members of our society.... I'm not suggesting that this is an either-or with other investments we know we must make, inside and outside of education. But I'm convinced making a historic bet on getting it right at the start would pay massive returns for our families, our communities, our society, and our nation's economy."

"I recognize that what I've just laid before you is ambitious," he continued. "But, if we're serious about eliminating the school-to-prison pipeline, a shift in funding is only part of what we need to do. In truth, there's a lot more we need to get right. That need goes way beyond education.... It means expanding the opportunity of quality preschool, whose power to reduce incarceration is well-established. It means giving teachers the preparation and support they need to succeed—especially in high-need schools. And, it means ensuring that children go to school free from fear—whether from gun violence or bullying or racial or sexual harassment or assault. None of the work is new; all of it is essential to changing the odds."

The Secretary also called for reckoning with implicit bias and the history of institutionalized racism (video, including remarks and question-and-answer session).

Top


Blue Ribbon Schools

Also this week, via a special congratulatory video, the Secretary announced 335 schools as 2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools. This program honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students perform at the highest levels or where progress is being made on closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Chief State School Officers nominate public schools. The Council for American Private Education nominates private schools. All schools will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., November 9 and 10. In its 33-year history, the program has bestowed this coveted award on more than 8,000 schools. (Note: Full applications, brief descriptions, and photographs of the schools are posted here.)

Top


Focus on Higher Education

On the higher education front, the Department recently invested in innovation, announced progress, and committed to reforms.

  • First, the agency awarded some $60 million to 17 colleges and universities under the First in the World grant program, supporting a wide range of innovation to improve student outcomes. This year, there were over 300 applications submitted for two competitions: development grants to seed and rigorously evaluate earlier stage innovations, and validation grants to test, at a broad scale, interventions supported by significant evidence. The 17 grantees represent 14 states; 10 public, private, and non-profit four-year institutions; five public two-year institutions; and two educational agencies or organizations. Nine of the 17 winning applications were submitted by minority-serving institutions (MSIs), three of which were Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Many grants will support collaborations among multiple partners—among as many as 10 colleges or universities, between two- and four-year institutions, or with non-profit partners targeting college access and student data (press call and blog post).
  • Next, the agency announced the official three-year federal student loan cohort default rate has declined to 11.8% for students who entered repayment in Fiscal Year 2012, down from 13.7% in FY 2011. The improvement was across all sectors—public, private, and for-profit institutions. Data indicates increasing numbers of student loan borrowers are taking advantage of income-driven repayment options. Schools with high default rates may lose eligibility to participate in federal student aid programs. This year, 15 schools are subject to loss of eligibility for default rates that were 30% or greater for three consecutive years, more than 40% for the latest year, or both (press call). (Note: The public may search for individual school default rates—by name, city, state, institution type, or eligibility status—online.)
  • Then, in response to President Obama's Student Aid Bill of Rights, the Departments of Education and the Treasury and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a Joint Statement of Principles on Student Loan Servicing and released a report detailing a series of statutory, regulatory, and administrative recommendations to safeguard student borrowers.

Also, the Education Department announced new grants for Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions and Native Youth Community Projects, released a Competency-Based Education (CBE) Experiment Reference Guide for institutions participating in the agency's 2014 CBE experimental site initiative, and entered into a resolution agreement with the University of Virginia to ensure the university's handling of sexual violence and harassment complies with the requirements of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Top


English Learner Toolkit

The English Learner Toolkit is a companion to the English Learner guidance released by the Departments of Education and Justice in January 2015, consisting of 10 chapters, each chapter aligned to one of 10 sections of the guidance. Included within the toolkit are tools and resources for identifying students as English Learners(ELs), delivering high-quality EL programs, evaluating the effectiveness of EL programs, preventing unnecessary segregation, providing qualified staff, ensuring access to school programs and activities (including disability-related services), exiting students from EL programs at the appropriate time, monitoring students' progress, and supporting EL parents. The free toolkit can be easily downloaded and printed online (blog post).

Top


Improving Charter Schools

Upon announcing new grants under the Charter Schools Program to fund the creation and expansion of public charter schools—$125 million to eight states and $32 million to 12 charter management organizations that serve students from low-income families—Education Department senior staff issued a Dear Colleague Letter to states stressing the importance of financial accountability for charter schools receiving federal grants. The letter suggests key areas where states may play a helpful role, such as operational oversight, charter management organizations (CMOs)/educational management organizations (EMOs) relationship transparency, and strong authorizing practices. The letter also outlines support from the agency—from the Offices of State Support, Innovation and Improvement, and Special Education and Rehabilitative Services—and lists several additional resources.

Top


Odds and Ends

Top


Upcoming Events

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.

The 2015 Federal Student Aid (FSA) Training Conference for Financial Aid Professionals in Las Vegas (December 1-4) is designed to provide the most up-to-date information on Title IV programs and evolving federal policies and procedures affecting customers and partners.

Speak Up 2015 is a national online research project that provides individuals the opportunity to share their thoughts on how to leverage technology in schools to promote learning. Surveys for students, educators, parents, and community members/business partners will be open through December 18.

Top


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.

Top




   
Last Modified: 10/02/2015