Back to School
School Safety Commission
Disaster Relief Aid
Odds and Ends
Secretary's Top Tweets
Back to School
Last week, Secretary DeVos made a surprise visit to seven District of Columbia public schoolsAmidon-Bowen Elementary School, Digital Pioneers Academy, Friendship Public Charter School-Tech Prep Academy, Hendley Elementary School, Simon Elementary School, Van Ness Elementary School, and Richard Wright Public Charter Schoolto mark the start of the school year. At each site, she delivered cookies and a personal note and met with a mix of students, teachers, administrators, and staff. Specifically, at Digital Pioneers, she dropped in all five classrooms, and, at Richard Wright, she met with several school ambassadors.
Over the last few weeks, the Department's digital team has highlighted the nation going back to school, sharing #BacktoSchoolTips.
Moreover, the agency has updated its Back to School web portal with resources for students, parents, and educators.
Also, the What Works Clearinghouse's Back to School feature provides educators with helpful resources to start off the school year.
School Safety Commission
On August 23, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and representatives from the Federal Commission on School Safety traveled to Las Vegas for a field visit to the Miley Achievement Center. The purpose of the visit was to spotlight how physical security measures in schools have proven successful in keeping students safe. The group toured the campus and met with local educators and law enforcement officials to discuss ways of improving school building security (video). This was the Commission's fourth and final field visit to learn from practitioners throughout the country who are actively taking steps to improve school safety and build a positive school climate. Previously, Commission members traveled to schools in Anne Arundel County, Maryland; Adams County, Wisconsin; and Garland County, Arkansas.
Following the visit, Secretary Nielsen penned an op-ed affirming school safety will remain a top priority of the Trump Administration. "With the feedback we have received from community leaders such as those in [Las Vegas], the Federal Commission on School Safety will soon release a report outlining how we can all work together to better prepare for, prevent, protect against, and respond to threats to our schools," she said. "This requires a whole of community effort, and it demands that all of us step up to do more. We must fight the corrosiveness of complacency by staying vigilantlong after tragedies have passed. This is a cause that should transcend party lines [and] Washington politics. It should bring our country together in common causebecause our children are the future of America. [T]heir security should be our highest priority."
Then, on August 28, the Commission held its fourth and final listening session at the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama. The session was an opportunity for members of the public, as well as state and local officials, to share with Deputy Secretary of Education Mitchell Zais and other representatives from the Commission their views on how schools, school districts, institutions of higher education, and local and state government agencies may improve school safety. The session was divided into three parts: two roundtable discussions and a public comment period (video).
Disaster Relief Aid
This week, Secretary DeVos announced some $63 million in new federal assistance for 47 institutions of higher education under the Emergency Assistance to Institutions of Higher Education program. These awards provide funding to institutions and their students in areas directly affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, or Maria or the 2017 California wildfires.
The funding allocations were determined using information provided by each institution regarding damage and recovery costs incurred by the disasters. Allocations also prioritized students who are homeless or at risk of homelessness due to displacement.
Congress appropriated $100 million for this program, and funds are available for obligation by the Department until 2022. The agency anticipates evaluating additional applications from the 47 institutions and others as their regions recover.
Congress also appropriated up to $75 million for the Defraying Costs of Enrolling Displaced Students program, which helps institutions of higher education recover the costs of generously supporting students who were displaced by the disasters. To date, $5,384,186 has been awarded, and the Department will evaluate additional applications through October 31, 2018.
For further information on all five disaster assistance programs, visit the agency's Disaster Relief web page.
September 17 is Constitution Day/Citizenship Day, commemorating the September 17, 1787, signing of the U.S. Constitution. In recognition, Congress has mandated that every educational institution receiving federal funding hold an educational program about this seminal document. To assist students and educators in their studies, the National Archives and Records Administration offers key resources, including a free online version of its U.S. Constitution Workshop. Likewise, free online resources are available from the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the U.S. Senate. This year is also the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, addressing many aspects of citizenship and the rights of American citizens.
This month, the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention held a Cyberbullying Prevention Summit in suburban Maryland. First Lady Melania Trump delivered keynote remarks addressing the positive and negative effects of social media on youth (video). She also attended a panel discussion with representatives from various social media platforms.
"I encourage technology and social media companies, schools, and community groups to establish more opportunities for children [to be safe and healthy online], such as Microsoft's Council for Digital Good," the First Lady emphasized. "By listening to children's ideas and concerns, I believe adults will be better able to help them navigate this often-difficult topic. Let's face it: most children are more aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media than some adults, but we still need to do all we can to provide them with information and tools for successful and safe online habits."
The First Lady is focusing on cyberbullying among young peopleas well as opioid abuse and overall child well-beingas part of her "Be Best" initiative.
Odds and Ends
President Trump announced his intent to nominate Robert King of Kentucky to be the Department's Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education. He is currently President of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. Notably, he was a nine-year member of the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, appointed by President George W. Bush.
Last month, Secretary DeVos visited with sixth- through eighth-grade girls attending the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum's "She Can" STEM Summer Camp, where they learned about the science of flight and were exposed to a wide array of aviation-related activities and career paths. The two-week camp was free for Washington, D.C., area girls who attend Title I schools or receive free or reduced-price lunch. As a result of President Trump donating his second-quarter salary last year to the Department, the agency partnered with the Smithsonian and doubled the total number of girls who could be part of this unique experience.
#RethinkSchool Homeroom blogs outline how a New York theater district high school partners with some of the city's foremost arts programs to offer high-quality instruction and a Florida visual and performing arts magnet middle school promotes safety and success.
Another post showcases two 2017 National Blue Ribbon School honorees with promising practices in the arts and social emotional learning, strengthening the conclusion that student learning requires engagement.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently authorized the "Every Kid in a Park" program for another year. Therefore, fourth-graders nationwide may now obtain a pass for free access to all federal lands and waters. The pass is valid for the 2018-19 school year, granting entry for one student and up to three accompanying adultsor an entire car for drive-in parksat more than 2,000 national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and marine sanctuaries. (Note: The web site offers educators and parents activities, trip planning books, safety and packing tips, and other helpful information.)
Secretary's Top Tweets
My deepest sympathies & sincere prayers go out to Cindy & the entire McCain family. (8/25/18)
Don't miss next week's free Federal Student Aid (FSA) webinars for students, families, and college access professionals: "The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) Form and the New myStudentAid Mobile App" (September 5, 3-4 p.m. Eastern Time) and "The New Look and Feel of FAFSA.gov (September 6, 2-3 p.m. ET).
To receive input on Department regulations related to postsecondary education, the agency announced three public hearings: September 6 at the Department's headquarters building in Washington, D.C., September 11 at Xavier University in New Orleans, and September 13 at Gateway Technical College in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. The first hearing will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET; the second and third hearings will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Central Time. Individuals who would like to present comments must register by sending their name, general topics, and general timeframe to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, volunteers will spruce up schools, paint and refurbish homes, run food drives, and support veterans, soldiers, military families, and first responders.
On September 14, at 11:00 a.m. ET, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, a 96-year-old national competition for middle and high school students, will open its student art exhibits at the Department. Featured will be 68 works by national winners from public, private, and home schools around the country, and 30 works by regional winners from Milwaukee. To RSVP to attend or learn more about the Department's year-round exhibit program, please contact Jacquelyn.Zimmermann@ed.gov.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, will conduct a nationwide test of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS) on September 20 (primary date) or October 3 (secondary date). The WEA portion of the test (via cell phones) will commence at 2:18 p.m. ET; the EAS portion of the test (via television and radio) will follow at 2:20 p.m. ET. The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether technological improvements are needed.
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