Press Room NEWSLETTERS
February 22, 2019

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...
Remembering Parkland
FERPA Q&A
Rethinking CTE
President's Education Awards
Final Appropriations
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Remembering Parkland

On February 14, the anniversary of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, President Trump issued a statement.

"One year ago today, a horrific act of violence took the lives of 14 students and three educators in Parkland, Florida. On this somber anniversary, we honor their memory and recommit to ensuring the safety of all Americans, especially our nation's children," he said. "Melania and I join all Americans in praying for the continued healing of those in the Parkland community and all communities where lives have been lost to gun violence. We reaffirm the bonds of faith, family, community, and country that unite us as one nation. Today, as we hold in our hearts each of those lost a year ago in Parkland, let us declare together, as Americans, that we will not rest until our schools are secure and our communities are safe."

Similarly, Secretary DeVos released a video message.

"I join all Americans in marking this solemn day—one year since the unthinkable murders in Parkland, Florida. What transpired at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School continues to haunt everyone. Our communities, our families, our country, are worse off without each one of the live cut too short," she stated. "Chris, Nicholas, Aaron, Gina, Scott, Alyssa, Joaquin, Jaime, Martin, Meadow, Alex, Peter, Helena, Alaina, Carmen, Cara, Luke. They -- and all the precious lives lost in acts of school violence—are why we must continue to combat evil and protect the lives of America's teachers and students. We are focused on finding and elevating solutions for communities to consider, as they strive to ensure no one worries about safety at school. Like so many Americans, I have found hope in the strength and resolve of the students, teachers, and families of Parkland, Florida. And I am inspired by lyrics composed by students of the high school's Drama Club: 'You may have brought the dark / But together we will shine the light.' One year later, that light in Parkland shines bright for all of us to see."

Meanwhile, hundreds of students commemorated the day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by tending a campus garden, packing lunches for a food bank, and serving breakfast to police and paramedics (#2getherinServiceandLove), and more than a thousand people gathered at park for an interfaith service, which opened with a video highlighting dozens of service projects launched in honor of the victims.

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FERPA Q&A

The Federal Commission on School Safety's final report observed that "substantial misunderstanding remains at the local level among officials and educators concerning the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and, in particular, its application to school-based threats." In response, the Department recently issued a comprehensive set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on schools' and school districts' responsibilities under FERPA.

"One key takeaway from the commission's work was that the federal government needs to do a much better job of providing useable information that's simple, streamlined, and clear," the Secretary noted. "FERPA is an area where widespread confusion remains, and this clarification will give local school leaders and law enforcement the tools they need to protect student privacy, while ensuring the health and safety of students and others in the school community."

This document, titled "School Resource Officers, School Law Enforcement Units, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act," consolidates previously issued guidance and technical assistance into a single resource. Understanding the provisions of FERPA relative to circumstances that threaten the health or safety of individuals will empower school officials to act more quickly and decisively when challenges arise.

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Rethinking CTE

In a video message, Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Scott Stump thanked stakeholders for their thoughtful and thorough comments submitted regarding the Department's draft Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plan guide during the 60-day public comment period from October 24 to December 24, 2018. He also announced the agency's response to comments, along with the revised state plan guide. The public has another 30-day window (through March 11) to comment on the revised guide (all documents).

Also, in celebration of Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month, the Department featured relevant posts on its Homeroom blog: "5 Ways Agricultural Education and FFA Shape Students' Futures" and "How I Found My Passion Through CTE."

Then, on February 21, Secretary DeVos and Deputy Secretary Mitchell Zais traveled to Florence County, South Carolina, joining U.S. Representative Tom Rice, Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette, and State Superintendent Molly Spearman for a visit to rural schools and a technical college. First, they toured elementary, middle, and high school classrooms at Timmonsville Educational Center—including playing with robots in the new science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) laboratory—and participated in a roundtable discussion with students, educators, and state and community leaders. Later, they toured Florence-Darlington Technical College's Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology and participated in another roundtable discussion with educators and business leaders.

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President's Education Awards

Since 1983, the President's Education Awards Program (PEAP) has bestowed 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 the Secretary of Education. Last year, nearly three million elementary, middle, and high school students from over 30,000 schools were recognized under PEAP. (Note: A list of 2018 PEAP participating schools by state is posted online.)

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Final Appropriations

On February 15, President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019, providing funding for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2019 for all federal government agencies and programs not yet included in enacted appropriations (division-by-division summary). While funding for the Department of Education was enacted back in September, the new bill contains $100 million for the Department of Justice's STOP School Violence Act. It also contains $110 million (an increase of $10 million above last year) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) STEM education programs.

In related news, the Department released "Common Instructions for Applications to Department of Education Discretionary Grant Programs." These common instructions are referenced in individual competition Notices Inviting Applications (NIAs). They supersede the version published on February 12, 2018.

Also, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program released a special topic solicitation for postsecondary education. It requests proposals for awards of up to $200,000 for the development of a prototype of a tool to measure the return on investment of different education programs and career pathways. The tool is intended to inform the education and career decisions of students from traditional and non-traditional backgrounds (blog post).

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Odds and Ends

  • President Trump and Secretary DeVos sent condolences on the passing of John Dingell, the longest-serving Congressman in the nation's history.

  • This week, the Accreditation and Innovation negotiated rulemaking committee held its second session (Days 1, 2, and 3). Materials distributed to committee members, including the agenda, redlines, and directed questions, are available on the negotiated rulemaking web page. The three subcommittees—Distance Learning and Educational Innovation, Faith-Based Entities, and TEACH Grants—also held their second sessions, live-streamed and archived. (Note: The committee will meet one more time, March 25-28, while the subcommittees will meet March 11-12.)

  • For #LoveTeaching Week (February 14-21), the Department posted a group photo of former teachers who work at the agency and asked them why they love teaching (see @usedgov).

  • The Department shared a new promotional video spotlighting the key features of the myStudent Aid mobile application.

  • The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a new report detailing the educational progress and challenges students face by race and ethnicity. The report presents 36 indicators on topics ranging from preschool through postsecondary education, as well as labor force outcomes. In addition, the report features two new spotlights on the characteristics of public school teachers by race/ethnicity and the characteristics of postsecondary institutions serving specific minority groups.

  • The Department approved an extension of the experimental pilot allowing prisoners to use federal Pell Grants to pay for higher education programs.

  • Last week, the Administration issued its "American Broadband Initiative Milestones Report," outlining a vision for how the federal government can increase broadband access and actions that agencies are taking to increase private sector investment in broadband.

  • Secretary DeVos donated her annual salaryto seven groups: The Children's Scholarship Fund, a non-profit school choice group; Jesse Lewis Choose Love, a social-emotional learning program; The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' Any Given Child initiative; The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation, which supports children with cancer and their families; The National Academy Foundation, a national network supporting STEM education; The Travis Manion Foundation, a non-profit supporting veterans; and Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a group of public historically black colleges and universities.

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Quote to Note

"The day after the tragedy in Parkland, I told the nation that school safety would be a top priority for my Administration. We took immediate action, committing ourselves to a sacred vow to do everything in our power to ensure that evil does not stalk our children on the playgrounds or in the hallways of our nation's schools. Within days, I convened a listening session at the White House, during which young men and women, joined by family and friends, recounted stories of survival and heroic acts of bravery and remembered those lost to senseless violence. We learned a lot that afternoon, exchanging many ideas on preventing violence in our schools.... One month after that important meeting, I signed the STOP School Violence Act and Fix NICS Act into law. The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services began the process of expanding health and other services to low-income public schools. The Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation convened a School Safety Summit that discussed how to better identify troubled students, conduct threat assessments, and institute anonymous reporting systems. Additionally, my Administration has completed a regulatory process, which it had started in October of 2017, to ban bump stocks. On December 18, 2018, the Federal Commission on School Safety released an 180-page report directly addressing many of the ideas exchanged last February at the White House and in listening sessions, panel discussions, and field visits held all across the country. The report offered nearly 100 diverse and evidence-based policy recommendations, ranging from use of Extreme Risk Protection Orders to improved mental health and counseling services in our schools. To protect against acts of violence on school grounds, the Commission also recommended a structure of interagency and intergovernmental collaboration, strengthening the working relationship between educational personnel, law enforcement, and state and local leadership."

        President Donald Trump (2/14/19), in a message on school safety on the one-year anniversary of the Parkland tragedy

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Upcoming Events

The National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), which sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), meets four times per year. The next meeting is February 28-March 2. Interested parties can access the briefing materials for the general session and committee meetings here.

The Department is offering a series of identical webinars—March 6, March 21, and April 10—to assist eligible districts in applying for Small, Rural School Achievement (SRSA) grants.

Project Tomorrow's Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning will no longer have participation windows and deadlines.

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Last Modified: 02/22/2019