Secretary Duncan Wants to Hear from You

U.S. Department of Education Blog - Fri, 2014-09-19 09:57

Cross-posted from the White House blog.

This morning, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent the following message to the White House email list.

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Last week, I met Brittany.

She’s a hardworking student at West Georgia Technical College who is now just months away from being certified as a nursing assistant, but there was a point when she didn’t think she’d be here. In high school, Brittany became pregnant and her future suddenly became uncertain. Her high school counselor suggested she apply for the 12 for Life program, a local program that offers students who have fallen behind in high school the opportunity to attend class, work and get back on their feet.

As I talked with Brittany and her fellow students — many of whom were the first in their family to graduate high school — they spoke powerfully and tearfully of the program’s success, and how it had given them hope for the future.

Brittany’s inspiring story is just one of many I heard last week during the Department of Education’s annual back-to-school bus tour. This year’s tour took us to Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, and provided my team and me with the opportunity to see innovations in education and to discuss progress, promise, and results.

I wish I could see every innovative program — every initiative creating promise for our children — happening across the country, but even after visiting all 50 states and more than 350 schools during my time as Secretary, I can’t visit every school. So that’s where you come in.

What cutting-edge programs are your local schools undertaking? Or, if you don’t know of any, what would you like to see them do?

We’ll share some of your stories and suggestions on the White House blog.

Brittany tells Secretary Arne Duncan about her positive experience in the 12 for Life Program during a stop on his back-to-school bus tour in Carrolton, Ga. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Education by Joshua Hoover.

This was my fifth back-to-school bus tour, and with each tour, I become increasingly optimistic about our country’s ability to elevate and strengthen education. High school graduation rates are at an all-time high, college enrollment has hit record levels, dropout rates are dramatically down, and principals, teachers, parents, and students are taking the lead on improving education for all students.

But during the bus tour and around the country, I also hear a lot of people worried that our children won’t inherit a better America than we did. That’s why we have such an important shared mission: to make sure that every student, everywhere, gets an effective education. It’s a mission that we can all agree on, and it’s one that matters immensely.

The best ideas in education will never come from Washington, which is why the Obama Administration is working hard to help states and communities strengthen schools — in particular, through supports for great teaching, and higher standards. It’s inspiring to see states and local communities stepping up to expand access to high-quality early education, transition to college- and career-ready standards, and support innovation in education.

So I want to know what’s happening in your community. Share the innovative things the schools in your area are doing — or what you’d like to see happen.

We should celebrate the gains we’ve made these past couple years, but we can’t be fully satisfied. There’s still more to do to support all students so they may reach their full potential. So, in this new school year, let’s get to work.

Thanks for sharing,


Secretary Arne Duncan
Department of Education


Categories: Higher Education News

White House Plans to Roll Out Campaign Against Sexual Violence on Campuses

Chronicle of Higher Education - Fri, 2014-09-19 04:01

The multipronged effort, joined by student leaders, sports groups, and private companies, aims to guide college policies, support victims, and enlist men to step in.

Categories: Higher Education News

Scholar Behind U. of Illinois Boycotts Is a Longtime Activist

Chronicle of Higher Education - Fri, 2014-09-19 02:55

CUNY’s Corey Robin has provided a constant stream of online analysis, muckraking, and megaphone-ready incitement.

Categories: Higher Education News

Too Many Campus Alerts? Officials Worry That Students Tune Them Out

Chronicle of Higher Education - Fri, 2014-09-19 02:55

After rapidly proliferating following the Virginia Tech shootings, in 2007, university-issued emergency alerts now draw complaints—and indifference.

Categories: Higher Education News

Where the Ivies Matter, Where They Don’t

Chronicle of Higher Education - Fri, 2014-09-19 02:55

The attention the eight universities grab seems more than a little disproportionate to their overall role in higher education. The Chronicle looks at some key statistics.

Categories: Higher Education News

Know It 2 Own It: Teaching and Learning About Disability Rights

U.S. Department of Education Blog - Thu, 2014-09-18 08:00

In a recent blog post, we introduced you to “Know It 2 Own It,” a campaign to encourage Americans to learn more about the disability rights movement and history that led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in July of 1990.

This month, as students across the country settle into their daily academic routines, now is the perfect time to think about teaching and learning about disability rights.

American history is also the history of people with disabilities. Though her life spanned the 19th and 20th centuries, many 21st century students still find inspiration in the remarkable career of  Helen Keller – the American author, lecturer and activist and the first deaf and blind person to earn a college degree. The story of her early years is the subject of the powerful play, “The Miracle Worker.” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, considered by many as one of the nation’s greatest elected leaders, helped guide the country and the world through some the 20th century’s greatest crises while using  a wheelchair. One of the most beloved singers alive today, singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder, was born blind. These are just some of examples of the contributions that people with disabilities have made to the richness and diversity of our shared American life through the years.

The disability rights movement is a part of American history, and understanding that history is valuable to all of us. The struggle for disability rights is part of the broader cause of civil rights and human rights.

This month’s guest video blogger, Rebecca Cokley, is Executive Director for the National Council on Disability (NCD). In the video, she describes how she got involved in the disability rights movement as a child, what she thinks are the most important messages for young people with disabilities, and why she is committed to mentoring others. Her motto is:  “Lift as you Climb.”

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) wants to hear from you. Have you found mentors in your local community that could teach students more about disability rights? Does a member of your school community have a family member with a disability who might be willing to share their experience?  Does someone have a family member who works in a disability-related non-profit, business, or government agency?

Please let us know how you are working to bring about positive change in your community by sharing your story on social media with the hashtag #know2own.

Click here to view past Know It 2 Own It blogs and join us here next month. October is Disability Employment Month!

Sue Swenson is Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education.

Categories: Higher Education News

Scholars Take Aim at Student Evaluations’ ‘Air of Objectivity’

Chronicle of Higher Education - Thu, 2014-09-18 02:56

The evaluations persist, a new paper argues, because they are easy to produce and offer the comfort of a number, but they make no sense statistically.

Categories: Higher Education News

So Your College Offers Students an ‘Employment Guarantee’?*

Chronicle of Higher Education - Thu, 2014-09-18 02:55

* They might want to read the fine print before getting too excited.

Categories: Higher Education News

5 Things That Surprised a Chronicle Reporter

Chronicle of Higher Education - Thu, 2014-09-18 02:55

She has been covering colleges for 25 years, but some of what she learned when Oxford University Press asked her to write a book about the higher-ed crisis shocks her still.

Categories: Higher Education News

NIH Is Absolved of Interference in Review of Study Involving Premature Infants

Chronicle of Higher Education - Thu, 2014-09-18 02:55

Government auditors looked at the agency’s role in discouraging an oversight office’s threat of action against researchers involved in the study.

Categories: Higher Education News

Uncluttering the Pathway to the Diploma

Chronicle of Higher Education - Thu, 2014-09-18 02:55

A new report identifies high-impact strategies for community colleges to get more students to the finish line.

Categories: Higher Education News

UC-Davis Chancellor Is Criticized for Circulating Jewish Group’s Guidance on Israel Protests

Chronicle of Higher Education - Wed, 2014-09-17 02:56

A campus spokeswoman says the email was forwarded as a matter of routine. But a group criticized in the guidance sees it as an effort to chill free speech.

Categories: Higher Education News

A Passion to Highlight Which Colleges Do Well by Low-Income Students

Chronicle of Higher Education - Wed, 2014-09-17 02:55

In his second report on improving access for needy students, Stephen Burd describes how some colleges are not doing their share—and why we should care about it.

Categories: Higher Education News

What a Consumer Watchdog's Suit Against Corinthian Could Mean for Other Colleges

Chronicle of Higher Education - Wed, 2014-09-17 02:55

The lawsuit speaks volumes about how the government could assert its authority.

Categories: Higher Education News

South Florida’s Green Schools Forecast? Warm, Sunny, Healthy and Here to Stay!

U.S. Department of Education Blog - Tue, 2014-09-16 14:14

Note: U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognizes schools, districts and postsecondary institutions that are 1) reducing environmental impact and costs; 2) improving health and wellness; and 3) teaching environmental education.  To share innovative practices in these three ‘Pillars,’ the Department conducts an annual Green Strides Best Practices Tour of honorees.

On Sept. 4, 2014, the School District of Palm Beach County was proud to welcome Andrea Falken, Director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS), and other federal, state, and local officials and stakeholders for this year’s “Healthy Schools, High-Achieving Students” Green Strides Best Practices Tour. Visitors were offered a unique view of how Palm Beach County is helping to grow Florida’s up-and-coming green generation, through local collaboration and district-wide programming.

Pine Jog Elementary, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Photo credit: School District of Palm Beach County)

The tour began at a 2012 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School, Pine Jog Elementary, in West Palm Beach. Over 80 visitors were welcomed by the District’s Superintendent, E. Wayne Gent.He shared with the group our commitment to build and maintain green and healthy schools to foster high-achieving students.Visitors were treated to a choral presentation of “We’re Goin’ Green,” underscoring that all schools have an opportunity to conserve resources, improve efficiency, ensure health and wellness, and deliver inspiring environmental curriculum. Walking tours of the school highlighted all facets of this unique green school, from its pesticide-free gardens, outdoor creative learning centers, and overall sustainability curriculum, to its state-of-the-art LEED Gold certified building.

At the adjacent Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, part of Florida Atlantic University’s College of Education, visitors heard the inspiring story of their partnership. FAU President, Dr. John Kelly, emphasized his support for the District’s efforts to plant the seeds of sustainability in every Palm Beach County student. They also learned about a program central to furthering green schools efforts in Palm Beach County – the district’s Green Schools Recognition Program. The program recognizes and rewards schools for taking an innovative and holistic approach to going green and acts as a feeder program for state and national recognition.

The listening session brought together the district’s major division directors, as well as several principals, architects, and partners. For Palm Beach, green schools go far beyond buildings. They are creative centers of learning which promote sustainable practices, encourage health and wellness for their students and staff, and provide strong connections between the built and natural environments for all students, whatever their needs.

After a healthy lunch, visitors toured the newest green school in the district, Galaxy E3 Elementary, in Boynton Beach. Through dynamic leadership and strong community partnerships, Galaxy is not only the first school campus in Florida to target LEED Platinum status, but also offers its needy student population the most engaging STEM resources available, including a planetarium and aquarium, as well as other museum-quality displays, designed to hook kids on science.

To conclude the day’s event, I was honored to join the city’s mayor, Jeri Muoio, and the District’s Chief of Support Operations, Steve Bonino, in offering closing thoughts at the Lake Pavilion, another LEED construction. Here in Palm Beach County, we believe that all schools can make green strides through careful planning, maintenance, and operation, as well as through thoughtful integration of environmental principles into the curriculum. Whether they are in new or old buildings, all children deserve healthy schools to give them the best chance of being high-achieving students.

Christina Davis is the Sustainability Coordinator for the School District of Palm Beach County.

Categories: Higher Education News

Federal Watchdog’s Lawsuit Accuses Corinthian Colleges of Predatory Lending

Chronicle of Higher Education - Tue, 2014-09-16 13:47

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also says the troubled for-profit educator used illegal debt-collection tactics and concocted misleading job-placement data.

Categories: Higher Education News

Broward Schools: Preserving the Planet for Posterity through Partnerships

U.S. Department of Education Blog - Tue, 2014-09-16 11:50

Note: U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognizes schools, districts and postsecondary institutions that are 1) reducing environmental impact and costs; 2) improving health and wellness; and 3) teaching environmental education.  To share innovative practices in these three ‘Pillars,’ the Department conducts an annual Green Strides Best Practices Tour of honorees.

Shifting the culture of Broward schools through strong partnerships was the theme of the Broward portion of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) Green Strides Best Practices tour in south Florida on Sept. 5. Within the school system, our partners and priorities include transportation, facilities and construction, environmental conservation and utility management, information and technology, health and wellness, food and nutrition services and curriculum integration district offices. Our external partners, including our state, county and local municipalities and businesses, were also featured along the tour.

South Plantation High School’s environmental magnet programs were touted during the tour. (Photo credit: Broward County Public Schools)

In Broward, we’ve made recognizing and celebrating our shared successes a crucial part of our sustained green strides effort. Broward honors schools with district-wide “P3: Preserving our Planet for Posterity” recognition awards, and also this helps identify candidates for the state and national awards. The P3 awards are jointly managed and funded by Broward Schools, Broward County Division of Environmental Planning and Community Resilience, and a consortium of environmental educators, the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO).

During our tour, we showcased strong Broward community teamwork, beginning as visitors boarded the eco-friendly, propane-fueled yellow school bus. Broward County Public Schools recently upgraded our bus fleet with the purchase of 98 Bluebird AutoGas buses. Each bus is cheaper to operate and emits 150,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide than a diesel-fueled bus over its lifetime.

At the first stop, Silver Ridge Elementary students shared how they connect with their local environment and its unique place in the history of Florida through their annual “Tan-a-kee-kee” festival. Students in every grade connect with the Earth as they learn about local Native American cultures and how their values and practices can help enrich and inform sustainability practices today.

The tour stopped next at Driftwood Middle School, a 2013 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School, where students exemplify the “Healthy Schools: High-Achieving Students” theme as an Academy of Health and Wellness. During gym classes, they monitor their own heart rates, study math in the garden, conduct energy audits and monitor their hydroponic system for a balance of nutrients. Students also experience a hands-on integrated curriculum that helps prepare them as environmental health and wellness stewards for the community.

South Plantation High School’s session highlighted the many levels of partnership that are required for success in a large district with diverse needs. Everyone in attendance learned at least one new best practice from the thirteen speakers representing each of the three pillars of ED-GRS, and nearly ever district division. Food and Nutrition’s healthy, fresh and local food program and Student Health Services’ asthma awareness education were featured, along with energy and water use reduction and the communication partnership with Information and Technology. The visit featured a student-led tour of the Everglades and Environmental Sciences magnet programs – including environmental research, horticulture, animal science, agricultural science and a spin around the bus loop by the award-winning Solar Knights’ solar car.

Students at New River Middle Marine Sciences Magnet Middle School spend their days conducting scientific research on the beach. (Photo credit: Broward County Public Schools)

We ended our day at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, part of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) state park system, where New River Middle Marine Sciences Magnet Middle School students spend their days conducting scientific research to better understand their local environment with the assistance of the DEP program Project LIFE – Learning in Florida’s Environment and the NOAA-funded Project GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment). These students enthusiastically shared their work and correlated their measurements to the newly installed weather station. As Greg Ira, DEP Director, Office of Environmental Education and Sustainable Initiatives, says, “There is no better place to learn about environmental and sustainability education than Florida’s State Parks. We applaud the commitment of Broward County Schools for bringing students to these unique places for real-world learning experiences right in their own backyard.

Perhaps best of all, what these students learn in their own backyard, they can take with them wherever they go, and practice over the course of a lifetime.

Dr. Lisa Ventry Milenkovic is Science Curriculum Supervisor, Math, Science & Gifted Department, Instruction and Intervention Division, Broward County Public Schools.

Categories: Higher Education News

Be Disaster Aware, Take Action During National Preparedness Month

U.S. Department of Education Blog - Tue, 2014-09-16 11:29

Safety and effective learning go hand in hand.  So, although September is a very busy time of year for the education community, it’s also a good time for students, school staff, and families to make sure they are up-to-date in their knowledge of school emergency plans, policies and procedures.

Take action during National PrepareAthon! Day on Sept. 30!

In fact, September is National Preparedness Month – and this year’s theme is Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare.

In support of National Preparedness Month and National PrepareAthon! Day, parents might want to ask school officials for details about the school’s emergency operations plan (EOP).

Teachers and school officials might also want to take the time to go over emergency procedures with their students and with their EOP planning teams. EOP planning teams consist of a wide range of school personnel, student and parent representatives, and community partners such as first responders and local emergency management staff. The planning team should be small enough to permit close collaboration with first responders and other community partners, yet large enough to be representative of the school, its families, and its community.

Our Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center has a great resource – the EOP Assess – an interactive tool geared toward helping EOP planners prepare a high-quality EOP. You can also visit the REMS TA Center website for additional information.

We also encourage everyone to take action during National PrepareAthon! Day on Sept. 30. You can download the digital media toolkit, follow @Readygov and @PrepareAthon on Twitter, and use the hashtag #NatlPrep if you want to share your participation and show your support.

Together we can celebrate National Preparedness Month and support a school year that’s safe, healthy and focused on learning!

More information can be found at and in Spanish at

Amy Banks is a management and program analyst at the Center for School Preparedness at the U.S. Department of Education.

Categories: Higher Education News

New Report’s Recipe for Economic Success: Nurturing University-Business Ties

Chronicle of Higher Education - Tue, 2014-09-16 06:31

American attitudes toward such partnerships must warm, a panel says, if U.S. research is to keep pace with global competitors.

Categories: Higher Education News
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