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Colleges Face Calls for Better Support of Students With Learning Disabilities

Chronicle of Higher Education - July 2, 2015 - 2:56am

More students with learning disabilities are heading to college and confronting new challenges. They can find help on campus, but the most supportive programs are rare.

Categories: Higher Education News

New Players Could Be in Line to Receive Federal Student Aid

Chronicle of Higher Education - July 2, 2015 - 2:56am

The Education Department is weighing a pilot project that would let students use Pell Grants at coding boot camps and other nontraditional programs.

Categories: Higher Education News

When Admissions Interviews Get Weird

Chronicle of Higher Education - July 2, 2015 - 2:55am

Sen. Ted Cruz says in his new memoir that he was hung over that day at Brown University. But, say admissions officers, that was tame compared with what they’ve seen.

Categories: Higher Education News

Ron Thorpe, In Memoriam

U.S. Department of Education Blog - July 1, 2015 - 2:24pm

In March 2015, Secretary Arne Duncan presented a lifetime achievement award to Ron Thorpe, a courageous and thoughtful leader of educators and a good friend to many of us here at ED. Secretary Duncan’s words are posted here today in respectful memory of Mr. Thorpe, who died last night. His legacy will live beyond him.

We’ve spent a little bit of time here talking about the leadership of all of you and before I get out of here I just want to take one minute and talk about this man’s leadership. For decades, thousands and thousands of people in this Country have benefited from and relied upon Ron Thorpe’s wisdoms and ideas and his commitment, and I just thought it was appropriate for us to take a minute now and say thanks.

Visionary is a word that sometimes overused but in Ron’s case, I think it’s exactly the right one. He’s deepened the understanding of this field, not just for our Nation but across the globe. He has helped us to understand why med schools and Ed schools have to have more in common. One profession works to save lives, the other to transform them. And the training for all of this critical work should be equally rigorous.

Over the past nine years, America’s teachers and the broader education community have come together to celebrate and strengthen the teaching profession, and over this time, nearly 50,000 educators have had the opportunity to share ideas and debate important topics and learn from one another. As a result of teaching and learning, the international summit on the teaching profession developed a couple years ago. We had our first session in New York. We’re now traveling across the globe, which I had the pleasure to participate that. We’ve been working with our peers from dozens of countries around the world. This is continued with summits when we go into other capitals like Canada as I said earlier in just a couple of weeks.

For Ron, it’s been a labor of love celebrating the great, great work of America’s teachers. And now as we head into the ninth year of teaching and learning, we would like to recognize Ron for his tireless commitment to leadership. To be an accomplished teacher, one has to commit to a lifetime of learning and that’s what Ron is all about, from his beginnings in the classroom to his work in philanthropy and the media and now here at this incredibly vibrant event. Ron knows and appreciates that teachers and educators deserve conferences like this, filled with chances to learn from one another. Ron’s been the genius behind bringing the world’s fair the dabbles of education to tons of educators. Perhaps most fundamentally, Ron knows it is not enough to believe in the potential of great teaching that it takes tireless and committed effort to realize the hugely important potential.

And I’m so grateful to call Ron a friend, a partner. His integrity and his courage inspire me every single day. It’s because of his bold vision that I think we all should honor Dr. Ronald Thorpe with the National Board’s first ever Award for Distinguished Service in Teaching and Learning.

Categories: Higher Education News

New Measures to Combat Sexual Violence

U.S. Department of Education Blog - July 1, 2015 - 10:12am

College campuses should be safe places where all students are free to focus on the joy of learning, forge lasting friendships, and explore the interests that lead to lifelong callings and careers. Even one sexual assault at our nation’s colleges and universities is too many.

This is an issue of great concern for President Obama, Vice President Biden, and all of us at the Department of Education. In hearing from many dedicated men and women from across the postsecondary and law enforcement communities — from college presidents, trustees, deans, and student affairs professionals, to attorneys and campus security staff, to student advocates, we know that many of you are devoting significant efforts to ending this threat because you are deeply committed to the health and wellbeing of our students and communities.

These cases are often difficult, complex, and emotionally harrowing. And we recognize that the problem of sexual violence doesn’t begin on college campuses, nor is it isolated to them. As we work to keep college students safe, we must also work more broadly, as partners – across the education pipeline, and throughout society – to address the issue, including by identifying and disseminating promising practices.

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” method to tackling this challenge, and our Department supports a variety of approaches. In addition, there are many different types of campuses and institutions. Some serve 800 students, others serve 80,000. Some have residential communities, some are exclusively commuter campuses.

In 2014, the President established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, co-chaired by the Office of the Vice President and the White House Council on Women and Girls. The Task Force recommendations have led to:

  • The creation of the NotAlone.gov website for students and schools to access resources on responding to and preventing sexual violence;
  • The compilation of effective training materials for students and for school, health center and victim services staff;
  • A sample memorandum of understanding between higher education institutions and law enforcement agencies; and
  • The clarification of schools’ reporting obligations under all the applicable laws.

As an agency, we’ve worked to improve the coordination of our enforcement efforts. Our Office for Civil Rights (OCR), in particular, has taken steps to:

  • Issue policy guidance on schools’ obligations under Title IX to prevent and address sexual violence;
  • Provide resources and technical assistance, through our headquarters and regional offices, to inform school officials, parents, students, and others of their rights and responsibilities under the law;
  • Engage in more robust enforcement of Title IX through our complaint and investigation process;
  • Improve coordination between our Federal Student Aid office and OCR for Clery and Title IX compliance; and
  • Increase transparency by posting resolution letters and agreements with recipients on our website and NotAlone.gov, and by making public, for the first time, a list of colleges and universities under OCR investigation for their handling of sexual violence complaints.

And, today, July 1, 2015, final regulations take effect implementing the changes made to the Clery Act by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. These new regulations reflect extensive public comment and the consensus of a broad-based negotiated rulemaking committee.

We will soon be sharing additional information with the higher education field to support implementation, including a summary of the final regulations. We are in the process of updating the Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting, reflecting the new requirements, and we will be reaching out to the field for help with the revisions. To help address questions about the final regulations, we will provide support and hold other public opportunities to assist the field.

The final regulations:

  • Increase transparency by adding dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking to the list of crimes about which an institution must disclose statistics to the public, its campus community and the Department; and
  • Require institutions to make enhanced disclosures regarding disciplinary proceedings used to resolve allegations concerning these crimes, protective measures provided by the institution following an allegation of these crimes, and the training programs in place to better inform its campus community about awareness and prevention.

In the months ahead, the Department will continue working with institutions, states, advocates and other higher education stakeholders to expand our shared knowledge, identify best practices and prevention models, and increase our capacity to combat sexual violence.

Maintaining our students’ health, safety and wellbeing is our greatest trust, and we’ll continue to make it our highest priority.

Ted Mitchell is U.S. Under Secretary of Education

Categories: Higher Education News

Obama’s Overtime Proposal Could Be Costly for Colleges

Chronicle of Higher Education - July 1, 2015 - 2:55am

The proposal would make more workers eligible for overtime pay, and colleges would feel its impact. It’s unclear, however, how many campus jobs might be affected.

Categories: Higher Education News

@AcademicsSay: The Story Behind a Social-Media Experiment

Chronicle of Higher Education - July 1, 2015 - 2:55am

A parody Twitter account born out of frustration brought unexpected rewards — connecting with a previously unknown community and expanding research opportunities.

Categories: Higher Education News

How Can You Tell When a College Is Circling the Drain?

Chronicle of Higher Education - July 1, 2015 - 2:55am

Data, opinions, and other vital signs are abundant, but good luck using them to identify a failing institution before it flatlines.

Categories: Higher Education News

Johan Uvin: Pathways to Citizenship Through Career and Technical Education

U.S. Department of Education Blog - June 30, 2015 - 10:20am

June is Immigrant Heritage Month. In recognition of the diverse linguistic and cultural assets of immigrants and the value they have brought and continue to bring to the United States, the Department of Education will share the immigration stories of its staff throughout the month of June.

Johan’s grandparents, parents, and a few of his siblings.

I was raised, along with my two brothers and three sisters, just about 30 miles Northwest of Brussels in a small village that has since become part of a much larger medieval city called Aalst, Belgium. My mother stayed home to raise us while my father worked as a laborer in a company that grew cut flowers and experimented with cloning. When we were teenagers my father purchased the same company where he’d been a laborer. This allowed our family to ascend into the middle classes. However, a few years later foreign competition and rising labor costs made it impossible for my father’s company to compete within this changing market. Times were equally hard for workers.

At the time I received my degree to become a middle school Language Arts and History teacher, youth unemployment—even among those with postsecondary education or training—was high. Luckily, I landed a one-year teaching assignment out of school in a vocational school where the students had difficulties learning. I loved it. My students were awesome and although they struggled with literacy and numeracy they were all great at their trade. This experience, along with the perspective I gained volunteering with immigrant youth and low-skilled adults, was a key factor in my commitment to addressing the skill imperative in my community. I created a non-profit for adults without high school credentials and merged it three years later with two other non-profits focused on adult literacy and immigrant language services. Like any young man, I’d worked my fair share of odd jobs to pay the bills, but these opportunities were different. They were more formative and allowed me to work in areas where I felt passionately. Partnering with the other non-profit organizations allowed us to create a municipal education collaborative that subsequently became a fully publicly funded and professionally staffed municipal basic education center. After receiving a Master’s in Teaching from Vermont’s School for International Training, I moved to Boston with Alison, a graduate school classmate who became my wife and the mother of our twin boys, Stephen and Elliot.

Johan Uvin is the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

It was in Boston that I began my U.S. teaching career at the Y, where I made $120 a week. Alison supplemented that by teaching workplace ESL just across the bridge in Cambridge. I went on to find a full-time job teaching refugees at a program run by the Asian-American Civic Association (AACA) and then began to teach at garment shops and nursing homes before eventually doing program coordination and administrative work. It was a wonderful time. I loved teaching, and still do, because I can facilitate opportunities for hard-working youth and adults to improve their English, literacy, and numeracy skills so they can find pathways into the middle class.

At the encouragement of friends and colleagues, at the age of 40 I went back to school to get a Master’s in International Education and a Doctorate in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. This allowed me to move into new areas of work in the public and private sectors at the local and state levels, and now at the national level.

My experiences as an immigrant—both the challenging and rewarding ones—are always on my mind as I am confronted with daily decisions that affect immigrants, refugees, and other often disadvantaged individuals and communities. In my role as the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, I strive to promote access to, participation in and completion of high-quality educational opportunities for all Americans, including our newest ones. I do this work so that they can obtain the necessary academic and technical skills to achieve the American dream and pursue a pathway to citizenship—like I have been so fortunate to do while serving in the Obama administration.

Johan Uvin is the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

Categories: Higher Education News

Guns, Prisons, Social Causes: New Fronts Emerge in Campus Fights Over Divestment

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 30, 2015 - 2:56am

Columbia University’s move to dispose of investments in private prison companies highlights how student activists are expanding their aims.

Categories: Higher Education News

U. of Phoenix Looks to Shrink Itself With New Admissions Requirements and Deep Cuts

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 30, 2015 - 2:55am

Faced with falling enrollments and high dropout rates, the university, which once had 460,000 students, plans to pare that number to 150,000 by next year.

Categories: Higher Education News

Self-Described ‘Cannabis College’ Sprouts Offshoots as More States Legalize Marijuana

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 30, 2015 - 2:55am

Oaksterdam University is not an accredited institution, but that has not stood in the way of its budding growth, among users, purveyors, and planters.

Categories: Higher Education News

What to Expect as the Supreme Court Revisits Race in Admissions

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 30, 2015 - 2:55am

The Supreme Court stands to revive the affirmative-action debate and throw questions of class into the mix.

Categories: Higher Education News

La voz de los padres es esencial en la educación

U.S. Department of Education Blog - June 29, 2015 - 9:49am

Los padres son un ingrediente imprescindible de la educación. Los padres pueden ser la voz de grandes expectativas para los niños y para apoyar a los educadores en la creación de escuelas donde todos los niños reciban lo que necesitan para tener éxito. Una excelente educación es un derecho civil de cada niño; y mientras que nuestra nación ha dado grandes pasos, incluido una tasa récord de graduación de escuela secundaria, y asistencia a la universidad en máximos históricos, tenemos mucho camino por recorrer para asegurar que todos los niños tengan las mismas oportunidades de aprender.

Los padres pueden desempeñar un papel clave en exigir una educación de clase mundial para sus hijos, como se merecen. Pero, para muchos padres y familias puede ser una tarea incierta determinar cuál es la mejor manera de apoyar a sus hijos o qué preguntas deben hacer para asegurar que sus hijos aprendan y se desarrollen.

Por eso hoy, hablando desde el punto de vista de un padre de dos niños pequeños, el secretario Arne Duncan describió un conjunto de derechos educativos que debe tener cada familia en Estados Unidos, durante su discurso en la Convención Nacional de la PTA en Charlotte, Carolina del Norte. Este conjunto de tres derechos fundamentales que tienen las familias puede unir a todos los que trabajan para asegurar que los estudiantes estén preparados para prosperar en la escuela y en la vida. Estos derechos acompañan la trayectoria educativa del estudiante, incluido el acceso a la educación preescolar de calidad; la participación en escuelas primarias y secundarias seguras, dotadas con buenos recursos, y que requieren un alto nivel de todos los estudiantes; y acceso a una educación superior de calidad a precio asequible.

Los padres y las familias pueden usar estos elementos básicos y necesarios de una excelente educación para construir relaciones más profundas con los educadores, administradores y líderes de la comunidad en apoyo de las escuelas, para que estos derechos se conviertan en realidad. Durante la Convención, el secretario Duncan también declaró su esperanza de que los padres le pidan cuentas a los funcionarios electos y los demás responsables, para acelerar el progreso en la educación y ampliar las oportunidades a más niños, especialmente los más vulnerables de nuestra nación.

Las declaraciones del secretario Duncan sobre este conjunto de derechos complementa el trabajo del Departamento de Educación para llegar a los padres, incluido la iniciativa Marco de desarrollo de capacidad dual para establecer alianzas entre las familias y las escuelas, presentada el año pasado; las herramientas que pueden ayudar a las familias y los estudiantes a seleccionar la universidad más adecuada para ellos; y el apoyo de los Centros de Capacitación e Información para Padres, y otros centros de recursos.

Durante su estancia en Charlotte, el secretario Duncan también participó en el panel “Escuelas Preparadas para el Futuro” (Future Ready Schools) para enfatizar la importancia de integrar la tecnología en el aula, sobre todo como una herramienta para promover la equidad para todos los estudiantes.

Para aprender más sobre los derechos que el secretario Duncan discutió hoy y para encontrar otros recursos para padres y familias, visite la página web del Departamento: Participación Familiar y Comunitaria. También considere unirse al secretario Duncan en una charla en Twitter para continuar el diálogo sobre la participación de los padres en la educación, que se celebrará el 1 de julio a las 1:30 p.m., hora del este, usando #PTChat.

Tiffany Taber es la jefa de personal para Desarrollo de Comunicaciones en el Departamento de Educación de EE.UU.

Categories: Higher Education News

Why Is It So Hard to Kill a College?

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 29, 2015 - 2:55am

Sweet Briar’s remarkable return from the dead is not particularly surprising when you consider the factors that tend to keep small private colleges open.

Categories: Higher Education News

Texas State Tech College Develops Skills Translator to Match Students With Jobs

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 29, 2015 - 2:55am

The software helps align curricula with employers’ needs, in part by making sure everyone’s using the same terminology.

Categories: Higher Education News

As College of Charleston’s President Speaks on Confederate Flag, Faculty Question His Timing and Message

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 26, 2015 - 3:19pm

Glenn F. McConnell’s personal history with the flag has complicated his response to the brewing controversy over its prominence in South Carolina.

Categories: Higher Education News

What the Landmark Ruling on Gay Marriage Means for Higher Education

Chronicle of Higher Education - June 26, 2015 - 1:56pm

Students and professors will have more choices on where to enroll or seek a job. Religious colleges expressed some fears.

Categories: Higher Education News

The Critical Voice of Parents in Education

U.S. Department of Education Blog - June 26, 2015 - 8:41am

Parents are critical assets in education. Parents can be a voice for high expectations for children and for supporting educators in creating schools where all children receive what they need to succeed. An excellent education is every child’s civil right; and while our nation has made great strides—with a record high school graduation rate and college enrollment at all-time highs—we have much further to go to ensure that every child has equal opportunity to learn.

Parents can play a key role in demanding the world-class education that their children deserve. But, for many parents and families, it can be an uncertain task determining the best ways to support their children or the right questions to ask to ensure their children are learning and growing.

That’s why, today, speaking from the perspective of a father of two young children, Secretary Arne Duncan described a set of educational rights that should belong to every family in America in a speech at the National PTA Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. This set of three foundational family rights can unite everyone who works to ensure that students are prepared to thrive in school and in life. These rights follow the educational journey of a student—from access to quality preschool; to engagement in safe, well-resourced elementary and secondary schools that hold all students to high standards; to access to an affordable, quality college degree.

Parents and families can use these basic—but necessary—elements of an excellent education to build deeper relationships with educators, administrators, and community leaders to support schools so that these rights become realities. At the Convention, Secretary Duncan also noted his hope that parents will hold elected officials and others accountable for accelerating progress in education and expanding opportunity to more children—particularly our nation’s most vulnerable.

Secretary Duncan’s discussion of this set of rights complements work by the Education Department to reach out to parents—from the Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships released last year, to tools that can help families and students select the best colleges for their needs, to support of Parent Training and Information Centers and resource hubs.

While in Charlotte, Secretary Duncan also participated in a “Future Ready Schools” panel to emphasize the importance of integrating technology into the classroom, especially as a tool for promoting equity for all students.

To learn more about the rights that Secretary Duncan discussed today and to find other resources for parents and families, visit the Department’s Family and Community Engagement page. And, consider joining Secretary Duncan in a Twitter chat to continue the dialogue about parent involvement in education on July 1 at 1:30 p.m., ET, using #PTChat.

Tiffany Taber is Chief of Staff for Communications Development at the U.S. Department of Education

Categories: Higher Education News

3 Options to Consider if You Can’t Afford Your Student Loan Payment

U.S. Department of Education Blog - June 26, 2015 - 6:00am

The U.S. Department of Education offers a number of affordable repayment options for borrowers who are struggling to pay back their student loans. The important thing to remember about all the options below is that it’s completely free to apply! Also, if you ever have questions or need FREE advice about your student loans, you can always contact your Department of Education loan servicer.

1. Switch Your Repayment Plan

You may be able to lower your monthly student loan payment by switching to a different repayment plan. Use this calculator to compare what your monthly payment amount could be if you switched your plan.

If you don’t pick a different plan when entering repayment, you are automatically enrolled in the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan. However, many borrowers don’t realize that you can switch your plan at any time by contacting your loan servicer.

One of the most popular options for borrowers who are looking to lower their payments is the income-driven repayment plans.

We offer three income-driven repayment plans:

  1. Pay As You Earn
  2. Income-Based
  3. Income-Contingent

Benefits:

  • Your monthly payment will be a percentage of your income. Depending on the plan, that may be 10% or 15% of your discretionary income, or something else. What you ultimately pay depends on the plan you choose and when you borrowed, but in all cases, it should be something you can afford.
  • Your monthly payment amount will be lower than it would be under the 10-Year Standard Repayment Plan if you qualify to make payments based on your income. In fact, it could be as low as $0 per month!
  • Any remaining balance on your loans is forgiven if your federal student loans are not fully repaid at the end of the repayment period (20 or 25 years).

Income-driven repayment plans are a great option if you need lower monthly payments. However, like all benefits, there are also costs. All of these benefits will ultimately increase the amount of interest you pay over time. The income-driven repayment plans also have tax consequences for any forgiveness received.

Apply for an income-driven repayment plan now

If one of the income-driven repayment plans is not a good option for you, we offer other options. Your servicer can help you identify the best plan to fit your needs.

2. Consolidate your Student Loans

Loan consolidation can simplify your payments by combining multiple federal student loans into one loan. Consolidation can also lower your monthly payment.

Benefits:

  • Can lower your monthly payment by extending your repayment period (spreading your payment out over more years). The repayment term ranges from 10 to 30 years, depending on the amount of your consolidation loan, your other education loan debt, and the repayment plan you select.
  • Will allow you to qualify for additional repayment options. If you have FFEL or Direct PLUS Loans, consolidating your loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan will allow you to qualify for additional repayment plans, such as the Pay As You Earn or Income-Contingent Repayment Plans, that you wouldn’t have qualified for if you hadn’t consolidated.
  • Your variable interest rate loans will switch to a fixed interest rate. It’s important to note that consolidation will lock-in interest rates on variable-rate loans, but will not lower them further. This would be a benefit if, like now, interest rates are low.

The benefits listed could provide relief to some borrowers. However, it’s important that you also weigh the costs before consolidating. For example, because you’re restarting and possibly extending your repayment period, you’ll pay more interest over time. Additionally, you may lose borrower benefits, such as interest rate discounts and loan cancellation benefits, offered with the original loans.

Apply for a direct consolidation loan now

3. Postpone your Payments

Under certain circumstances, you can receive a deferment or forbearance that allows you to temporarily postpone or reduce your federal student loan payments.

Deferment and forbearance may be a good option for you if you are temporarily having a difficult time paying back your student loans. Deferment and forbearance are not good long-term solutions. If you think you’ll have trouble paying back your loans for more than a year or you’re uncertain, you should consider an income-driven repayment plan or consolidation.

Benefits:

  • You do not need to make student loan payments during a deferment or forbearance.
  • The federal government may pay the interest on your loan during a period of deferment. This depends on the type of loans you have.

Again, deferment and forbearance are not good long-term solutions for borrowers who are struggling to pay back their student loans. Some reasons why:

  • With a deferment, interest will continue to be charged on your unsubsidized loans (or on any PLUS loans).
  • With a forbearance, interest will continue to be charged on all loan types, including subsidized loans.
  • The interest you accrue during periods of deferment or forbearance may be capitalized (added to your principal balance), and the amount you pay in the future will be higher.

If you can, you should consider making interest payments on your loans during periods of deferment or forbearance

To request a deferment or forbearance, contact your loan servicer

If you need help deciding which of these options is best for you, contact your loan servicer. They can help you weigh the different options based on your unique situation.

Nicole Callahan is a Digital Engagement Strategist at Federal Student Aid.

Categories: Higher Education News

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