Press Room NEWSLETTERS
July 22, 2016

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...
Summer Learning Day
Supporting Humanities and Arts Education
Funding Opportunities
Protecting Student Borrowers
Zika Guidance For Schools
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Editor's Note

As we move into August, there will be a break in ED Review's regular publication cycle. In the interim, please visit ED.gov and check the headlines. Also, watch for the August 12 issue of ED Review, which will cover the major activities of the previous three weeks.

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Summer Learning Day

On July 14, highlighting the importance of keeping all children learning, safe, and healthy every summer, senior Department officials visited summer learning sites as part of the National Summer Learning Association's annual Summer Learning Day. Summer engagement is a priority for the Obama Administration, which launched the Summer Opportunity Project earlier this year. The project is a multi-agency effort, in close partnership with the National Summer Learning Association and other collaborators, which aims to increase the percentage of youth participating in evidence-based summer programs, decrease the percentage of youth experiencing violence during the summer, and support youth in securing their first job.

Research shows most students lose two to three months of reading skills and two months of math skills every summer. Over the summer months, some students experience a slide in learning that can contribute to gaps in achievement, employment, and college and career success. This is particularly true for low-income students who lose access to critical supports that keep them safe, healthy, and engaged during the school year.

In further support of summer learning activities, the Department launched a Summer Learning Portal with access to key tools and resources to help communities design and implement effective summer learning programs (video with tips to avoid the Summer Slide).

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Supporting Humanities and Arts Education

This spring, the Department issued a Dear Colleague Letter with guidance for states, school districts, and partners on how to maximize federal funds—through formula grant programs in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act—to support innovative science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education strategies and equitable STEM education opportunities and outcomes for all students. Last week, in response to demand, the agency issued a Dear Colleague Letter to similarly support humanities-based educational strategies in the 2016-17 school year. For this guidance, the agency broadly defines the humanities to include social studies (including history, civics, government, economics, and geography), literature, art, music, and philosophy, as well as other non-STEM subjects that are not generally covered by an English/language arts curriculum.

The examples focus on:

  • increasing student access to humanities courses and experiences, including out-of-school programs, humanities-themed schools, and career pathways;
  • supporting the knowledge and expertise in the humanity disciplines of school educators through recruitment, preparation, support, and retention; and
  • increasing student access to materials and equipment needed to support inquiry-based pedagogy and active learning.

A holistic education allows educators to teach their students in a manner that promotes the promise of learning and provides students with knowledge necessary to succeed in a complex society.

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Funding Opportunities

On July 11, Secretary King announced the 2016 Promise Neighborhoods grant competition, which will award $30 million to up to five organizations to provide their communities with a coordinated, comprehensive suite of services and school supports aimed at improving outcomes for students and their families. This year's competition is the fourth and final round of funding for the program under the Administration. New grantees will build on a portfolio of 58 prior Promise Neighborhood grants in 48 communities across the nation, representing an overall federal investment of nearly $300 million. Potential applicants include non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, and Indian tribes. Applications are due September 6.

Also, the Equity Assistance Centers grant competition is underway. The centers provide technical assistance and training, upon request, to districts and other responsible governmental agencies in the areas of sex, race, national origin, and religion to promote equitable education opportunities. Applications are due August 22.

On July 12, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, a member of the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee, introduced the Stronger Together School Diversity Act to promote diversity in schools (press call audio). The legislation builds on President Obama's Stronger Together budget proposal and consists of a voluntary plan to support the development and expansion of new and existing community-driven strategies to increase diversity in schools. Last month, Senator Murphy joined Secretary King for an event to discuss the opportunity for increased diversity in schools and communities to drive positive student outcomes in school and in life.

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Protecting Student Borrowers

In a continued effort to implement a new vision for student loan servicing to ensure more than 40 million Americans with student loan debt receive high-quality customer service and fair treatment as they repay their loans, the Department has outlined a series of enhanced protections and customer service standards that will guide the future of federal student loan servicing practices. These policies are detailed in a memorandum from Under Secretary Ted Mitchell to the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), which will implement the directives to strengthen student loan servicing during the ongoing procurement process. These policies were developed in consultation with the Treasury Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The memo gives direction in five specific areas: economic incentives, accurate and reliable information, consistency, accountability, and transparency. Ultimately, the new loan servicing system will make it easier for borrowers to manage and repay their debt. This will mean borrowers can log into a single web portal to access information, make payments, apply for benefits, and manage their account.

Last fall, the Departments of Education and Treasury, with CFPB, issued joint principles on student loan servicing calling for new standards to protect borrowers and reduce defaults, and, early this year, the Education Department laid out a vision of world-class service for borrowers and challenged the industry to compete to fulfill that vision.

Also: The White House Council of Economic Advisers released a report on the "benefits, challenges, and the state of student debt."

In other news, the Department posted proposed regulations to clarify state authorization requirements for online programs and foreign locations. The regulations will be published in the Federal Register on July 25, with comments due by August 24. The agency expects to publish final regulations by the end of the year.

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Zika Guidance For Schools

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed interim guidance for kindergarten through twelfth-grade district and school administrators for public health actions pertaining to Zika virus infection. The guidance is intended to address concerns about the risk for Zika virus infection in schools in the continental U.S. and Hawaii, provide information for planning school-related activities, and recommend concrete actions that can be taken—in consultation with local public health authorities and government officials—to reduce the potential risk for Zika virus transmission on school premises and among students. The guidance supplies a general overview of the potential roles and responsibilities of public health authorities and school officials, describes prevention measures that schools can take to reduce mosquito exposure, and shares information on responding to a case of travel-associated Zika virus infection or confirmed local mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus (additional resources).

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Odds and Ends

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Quote to Note

"Today, we gather at a moment of painful reflection as a country. We mourn the loss of life of police officers in Baton Rouge, mourn the loss of life of police officers in Dallas, mourn the loss of life of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. We ask ourselves as a country, 'Where do we go from here?' The President spoke yesterday about the importance of focusing on our words and actions in a way that unites rather than divides us. We reflect on the ways in which our law enforcement officials put their lives on the line every day on behalf of our citizens and on the way in which those officers who lost their lives in Dallas did so while defending and protecting the constitutional right of citizens to protest and remind us that black lives matter. We reflect on the reality that still too many of our fellow citizens approach interactions with police with fear they will not be protected, rather than the confidence they will be protected. We have work to do as a country. And that work really begins with revisiting our values and who we are and what we believe is important. We know that, as a country, we are stronger together. We are better when we are talking to each other, when we are working together to solve our common problems."

        Secretary of Education John King (7/18/16), from his remarks at the NAACP Annual Convention

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Upcoming Events

Green Apple Day of Service, on Saturday, September 24, 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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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

ED Review is a product of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Communications and Outreach, State and Local Engagement—Lindsay O'Mara, Deputy Assistant Secretary

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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: 07/22/2016