Higher Education News
I had the opportunity to join the President at the White House recently to sign the Future Ready pledge for transforming education through increased digital learning. The convening drew 109 fellow superintendents in person, and thousands of others virtually. My selection as an attendee was based on the incredible transformation Gurnee District 56, north of Chicago, Illinois, has made in establishing a student-centered learning environment. Buoyed by a 1:1 iPad initiative and a supportive school culture, personalized learning, self-paced instruction, and digital and open source content have become the norm in our school district.
The accolades we have received are based on very real progress which is directly related to how we use technology. Last school year our K-8 students achieved unprecedented targeted growth proficiency in reading, from 56% to 63.5% and math, from 56% to 71%. In recognition of our accomplishments, the district received the Apple Distinguished Program award in November of 2013 and in the spring of 2014, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, lauded the district in his annual speech to shareholders.
As the President said in his speech, we are losing ground in this race to ensure that our children can compete in the 21st century global economy. To reverse this, students must have access to a rich digital learning environment. I have always believed that in order to create change of this magnitude, and compete with countries that are currently Future Ready, we must establish a sense of urgency and make it clear to everyone that nothing less will solve the problem.
The President challenged all of us to carry the torch on behalf of our nation’s children to ensure that we are prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. After his speech—and I believe that I am speaking on behalf of my colleagues—we were convinced of the need to be Future Ready and eagerly accepted his challenge to join him on this journey.
It is now time for us to continue this conversation. As Deputy Secretary of Education Jim Shelton asked, “What will Future Ready look like when we accomplish it?”
Consider these questions:
- Does Future Ready apply to our technology, curriculum, students, teachers, parents, the nation? If so, how will we be able to, in specific terms, describe what Future Ready means?
- How do we make Future Ready an important concept to those school districts that are not even close to being Future Ready?
- For those of us who are committed to this path, how do we ensure that our conversations are practical rather than philosophical?
- How committed are we to helping others rather than spending all of our time and attention on our own school districts?
The President has made it clear that the time to act is now. I look forward to working in unison with my colleagues to make sure that Future Ready is a road map that will protect the greatness of America.
John Hutton is superintendent of Gurnee School District 56 in north suburban Chicago, Illinois. He participated in the President’s “ConnectED to the Future” convening at the White House on Nov. 19.
Can colleges really control excessive drinking? Do you have a success story to share, or want to know more about what works and what doesn’t? Join a live Google Hangout on Friday to discuss the issues, and pose questions in advance here.
Talk of sexual assault has students looking out for one another while drinking just as much.
Naming the problem, going after a party culture, keeping tabs on the Greek system, building a community coalition: All have helped keep students safe.
The University of Mosul, in Iraq, is now open, but officials from the so-called Islamic State have imposed a harsh interpretation of sharia law on campus.
A committee found the professor guilty of misconduct serious enough to render him unfit to remain on the faculty.
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At Johns Hopkins and Dartmouth, student journalists are forbidden to report on some public proceedings.
The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, have been on the minds of many of us at the Department of Education. Secretary Duncan addressed the topic in a staff-wide email just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Because of the importance of the topic, we are posting his email below.
Like many of you, I have been troubled by the death of Michael Brown, the tragic loss to his family and his community, and what has been happening in Ferguson, Missouri, over recent months and over the past 36 hours.
We come to work at this agency each day because we believe in the world that is possible when equity and justice and peace and opportunity are a reality in the lives of our communities and our young people. Thus, it is especially difficult to watch the scenes of violence and unrest in Ferguson. Evident in those scenes is a broken trust that exists within communities well beyond Missouri, between people – particularly those of color – and the official institutions that are there to serve them.
I must stress that nonviolence is the most powerful strategy and the only path to a real solution. What we are seeing in Ferguson speaks to some important and deep issues that won’t be resolved just by bringing quiet to the streets there.
For our young people to succeed, they have to be connected, to know that they have a stake, to have opportunities open to them, to trust in our legal system, and trust that the adults and society around them have their best interests at heart. I worry when young people may have lost their trust in our system of laws and democracy, and become disconnected – from adults, from society, from school, and from the police. I believe that this alienation, lack of trust, and disconnect is how we start to lose some of our young people, especially in communities of color. I believe it is our job as adults to do everything we can to rebuild that trust – in Ferguson and throughout the country.
Solving those problems and setting communities on a path to trust isn’t a quick fix. Relationships are built – or damaged – over time. We should take away from Ferguson that we need a conversation to rebuild those relationships, throughout the country, and that need is urgent. It needs to involve everyone – our young people, our parents, our schools, our faith communities, our government officials, and the police. It needs to happen now.
Moving that conversation forward is part of the work that so many of us do – and in fact, for many of us, it’s the reason for it. We are together in that effort, and it has never been more important. Thanks for what you do every day to advance opportunity, cohesion, understanding, trust, and justice.
Finally, as you gather with your families and in your communities for Thanksgiving, let’s all be thankful for our many blessings and hopeful that we can get to a place where all of America’s children feel they have an equal opportunity to succeed in life thanks to a great education, a rewarding job, and the caring of adults around them.
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China is tightening up the licensing of China-based agents for overseas universities, with the sector tarnished in recent years by allegations of falsified documentation produced as part of the application process to universities in Britain, the United States, Australia, and other countries.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, people across the country will be reflecting on the things they are most grateful for. During this time, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education would like to recognize and express gratitude to the teachers, parents, coaches, mentors, and others who have made a difference.
One of the ways we do this is through our ongoing Know It 2 Own It campaign. We want to encourage young adults to learn about the history of the disability rights movement and for those with disabilities to understand their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. We also want to hear from young adults with disabilities who are working to make a difference in their communities.
As we have demonstrated in past blog posts, disabilities don’t all look alike. Each month we strive to tell different stories about challenges and successes within the disability community.
November is Epilepsy Awareness Month. We recently invited students and young adults living with epilepsy to express their appreciation for those who have helped them along the way. Below are some of the compelling responses we received:
My name is Dalton, I am 19 years old and live in Texas. I can’t honestly narrow down a mentor to just one person. My mentors were my camp counselors Jonathan, Jake and Ryan at the summer camp I attended in 2008 for children with epilepsy. When I first arrived I was nervous, homesick and withdrawn. I had hardly opened up with anyone since my diagnosis two years earlier. After spending one week with them my life completely changed for the better. I realized that epilepsy was not going to keep me from living my life and that I could have friends and have fun just like any other kid. Because of camp, I joined the football team and then became a pole vaulter! Now I am a camp counselor just like they were, and even was a head counselor last summer! I hope to make a difference in a kid’s life, just like they did mine. (Dalton, Texas)
I had just begun high school when at the age of fourteen, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I had never heard of the condition, wasn’t familiar with the causes, and didn’t know which treatment option to select. My teachers and counselors not only offered valuable advice but helped me navigate the fears I had. When I needed them most, they were there, and I will forever be grateful to each and every one of them. (Ryan, Missouri)
My friends always support and encourage me. They will do epilepsy runs with me and remind me to take my meds. My friends are trained to know what to do if I have a seizure and to recognize symptoms. My friends encourage me when I participate in sports and don’t make me feel like I can’t do what they are doing because I have epilepsy. (Jarin, Wisconsin)
Throughout my 4-1/2 year journey with epilepsy, one important person in my life comes to mind that has supported, helped, encouraged and cheered me on to speak up, speak out and be bold about my diagnosis. To share my story with the world so as to help other teens and families going through the same roller coaster ride of emotions that me and my mom have lived every day since my diagnosis. My mother, she has been my biggest and strongest advocate. Watching how she has taken this bull by the horns instead of letting epilepsy drag us by the tail, has shown me her strength, determination and — biggest of all — her unwavering faith that we will live life exactly as God has planned for us.I may never fully understand why I was given epilepsy but as I always say, “God gave me this life because He knew I was strong enough to live it.” He has put people and opportunities in my path over the years where I can use my voice to tell my story and to help inspire other teens like me not to fear the diagnosis but to have Hope for our futures. (Abie, Texas)
The testimony above showcases the resiliency of young people with disabilities and the value of their support networks. We want to continue to highlight stories like those above – and want to hear from you. Please continue to share your stories with us on social media by using the hashtag #know2own. And view past blog posts for additional inspiration.
Alexis Perlmutter is a Special Assistant in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education.