National Apprenticeship Week
Rural Prosperity Resource Guide
The Big Read
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
National Apprenticeship Week
This week, the country celebrated National Apprenticeship Week (NAW). Now in its sixth year, NAW brings together business, labor, education, and other critical partners to showcase the impact apprenticeship programs have on closing the skills gap for the American workforce. NAW also gives employers, including sponsors and providers, the opportunity to showcase their programs, facilities, and apprentices so that career seekers can learn more about the benefits of apprenticeship and the programs that are available in their communities.
The President issued a proclamation on NAW 2020, encouraging "individuals, business leaders, and government officials to support hardworking Americans and their families through expanding apprenticeship education and training, recognizing the essential role apprenticeships play in sustaining our national economy."
And, Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Scott Stump released a video, explaining the powerful impact and value of apprenticeships for students, employers, communities, and the education system.
Moreover, Assistant Secretary Stump hosted a "Rethink Work-Based Learning, Connecting Education and Economy" event, featuring both the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Labor. Since 2000, there has been a precipitous drop in participation in the labor force by youth ages 16-19 of all races and ethnicities. The event explored ideas to expand work-based learning opportunities for students (photos).
With a special series of digital profiles, the Department recognized this year’s Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership honorees: Shavon Jackson (Arkansas), Carmen Vargas-Guevara (Connecticut), Carol Leveillee (Delaware), Mayra Cruz (District of Columbia), Michael Robinson (Georgia), Maryann Hayslip (Kentucky), John Wright, Jr. (Tennessee), Corrine Saenz (Texas), Michelle Fox (Washington), and Christina Small (Hawaii).
Also, Secretary DeVos called for nominations for the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award, which honors two educators -- one elementary and one secondary -- for excellence in cybersecurity education. A nominee need not work exclusively in cybersecurity education; all those whose subject matter includes cybersecurity are eligible for recognition. The nomination period is open through January 31, 2021.
Additionally, nominations are currently open (though March 1, 2021) for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
Rural Prosperity Resource Guide
At the beginning of his Administration, President Trump made a commitment to promoting rural prosperity across the country. In April 2017, he signed Executive Order 13790 — Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America — which established the Rural Prosperity Task Force led by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. The task force identified more than 100 recommendations spanning legislative, regulatory, and policy changes needed to help improve life in rural America.
On October 28, the White House released a rural prosperity resource guide, "Promoting Rural Prosperity in America," demonstrating the Administration's historic investment in and support for rural America and outlining key programs across the federal government to support rural prosperity and resiliency.
Separately, the White House re-released a helpful guide on natural disaster recovery and resilience, emphasizing that the most effective disaster efforts are locally developed and executed, state managed, and federally supported.
The Big Read
The National Endowment for the Arts' (NEA) The Big Read, established in 2016, supports Americans reading and discussing a single book within their communities. Local governments, libraries, school districts, colleges and universities, and non-profit organizations are encouraged to apply for one of an estimated 75 grants that will be awarded for programming occurring between September 2021 and June 2022. The application deadline is January 27, 2021. Besides the grant, communities will receive resources, including reader's and teacher's guides and audio guides with commentary from artists, educators, and public figures. Communities will also receive publicity materials.
For this cycle, communities will choose from six titles:
- An American Sunrise, a collection of poems by Joy Harjo;
- Beloved, a novel by Toni Morrison;
- The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui;
- The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and Other Stories, a collection of tales by Jack London;
- The Grapes of Wrath, a novel by John Steinbeck; and
- The House on Mango Street, a series of vignettes by Sandra Cisneros
Need some help? Contact Arts Midwest to schedule a consultation with staff, visit the Application Advice page for tips and best practices for applications, and review the NEA Big Read Survival Guide to gain wisdom from past grantees. To date, approximately 1,600 Big Read programs have taken place nationwide.
Last week, President Trump signed an Executive Order establishing the President's Advisory 1776 Commission. This commission, to be appointed by the Secretary of Education, will work to improve understanding of American history and the core principles of the founding of the country among the nation's rising generations. Within one year, the commission must produce a report regarding the principles of America's founding and how these principles may be understood to further the blessings of liberty and promote continuing efforts to form a more perfect union (White House fact sheet).
Specifically, the commission will offer recommendations to promote patriotic education at federal sites, including national parks and monuments, create a "Presidential 1776 Award" to recognize student knowledge of America's founding, and support plans to celebrate the 250th anniversary of American independence in 2026.
Alongside the new commission, the President is ordering federal agencies to prioritize patriotic education in the delivery of federal resources and taking steps to enhance compliance with existing laws that require educational institutions receiving federal funds to observe Constitution Day.
Odds and Ends
- "Finding Our Rhythm" details how Zachary Steen, a kindergarten teacher at Apple Glen Elementary School in Bentonville, Arkansas, has made virtual learning hands on whenever possible.
- A few days after Kendrick Lusk retired from the U.S. Army, he began teaching at W. H. Burges High School in El Paso. He believes teaching is an excellent vocation for veterans looking to continue service in their communities. Check out his story: "Army Vet Continues to Serve in the Classroom."
- Also new on the Homeroom blog: "5 Things to Do After Filing Your FAFSA® Form."
- The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) Back to School Success Stories page has some additional testimonials written and submitted by parents, teachers, school officials, and community members sharing their positive experiences with bringing students back to school.
- More virtual showcases: Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (delegated the duties and responsibilities of the Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services) Mark Schultz featured statewide vocational rehabilitation services in Florida, Arizona, and Nevada; Assistant Secretary Stump featured Gateway Technical College in Wisconsin; Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges Casey Sacks featured Indian River State College in Florida; and Director of Special Education Programs Laurie VanderPloeg featured Pattison's Academy for Comprehensive Education in Charleston, South Carolina.
- The Department recently issued a notice inviting applications for new awards under the Career and Educational Pathways Exploration System Program. The purpose of this program is to develop technology-based career exploration systems that enable high school students to identify and explore career opportunities that align with their interests, ambitions, and aptitudes; learn from individuals who work in those fields about the nature of their work and opportunities available in their fields; and identify education and training options — including non-college programs — that support entry into or advancement in those careers. Among the eligible applicants are non-profit institutions with expertise in career counseling or workforce development, individually or in partnership with institutions of higher education and/or other non-profit institutions (such as state workforce development boards, employers, trade associations, and labor unions). (Note: The deadline for applications is December 9.)
- The Department is requesting comments on the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), which is undergoing agency review and evaluation during its period of recognition.
- Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Director Mark Schneider's latest blog post, "Res ipsa loquitur," addresses the final set of results from the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
- A reminder: the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge is a $750,000 competition to advance pre-apprenticeships. The Department invites adult education providers — including community colleges, correctional facilities, and community-based organizations — to submit a preliminary program design to better prepare learners for apprenticeships by November 25. The grand prize winner will be awarded $250,000. Up to five runners-up will each receive at least $100,000. All those interested may replay the challenge information session and see answers to frequently asked questions.
- NASA's Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest, open until December 17, challenges U.S. K-12 students to imagine leading a one-week expedition to the Moon's South Pole. Just imagine: You and a crew of astronauts will explore the lunar surface, making key discoveries to assist future explorers. Describe your team — the number of astronauts in your crew, their personality traits, the skills they possess, and the attributes you would want in crewmates. And what machine, robot, or piece of technology would you leave behind to help future astronauts explore the Moon? Essays will be divided into three groups for judging by grade level — K-4, 5-8, and 9-12. Every student who submits an essay will receive a certificate and be invited to a NASA virtual event featuring an astronaut. Semifinalists will be invited to represent their state in a series of Artemis Explorer sessions with experts. Nine finalists will have the opportunity to travel with a parent to NASA's Johnson Space Center next summer to learn about lunar exploration. The national winner in each group will win a family trip to see the first Artemis flight test, watching the world's most powerful rocket launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Quote to Note
"[National] Blue Ribbon Schools show what’s possible when you focus on students and their achievement. Many of you show what’s possible when you’re forced to pivot and navigate uncharted circumstances — like during this COVID crisis — to keep learning going for all your students. We know that every child is unique. Different students in different places have different needs. We recognize different kinds of schools precisely because of this reality."
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (11/12/20), from remarks for the National Blue Ribbon Schools Virtual Awards Ceremony
The next webinar in the Department's science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) briefing series, looking at the federal STEM education strategic plan two years later, is scheduled for November 17, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Anyone may watch live or the archived session. Previous briefings are posted on the agency's STEM landing page.
On November 19, from 2 to 4 p.m. ET, the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) will present on American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services programs and their rich history in providing cultural vocational rehabilitation services to American Indian and Alaska Native people with disabilities.
A Federal Register notice sets forth the schedule and agenda for the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) quarterly meeting on November 19 and 20.
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