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The Let’s Read! Let’s Move! summer series danced off to the beat of the Native American drum with the Black Bear Singers surrounded by 225 children, ages three to seven, in a continuous round dance at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) on July 9, 2014.
Secretary Arne Duncan was joined by NMAI Director Kevin Gover, Washington Kastles tennis coach Murphy Jensen, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, White House chef, executive director of Let’s Move! and senior policy advisor on nutrition in the Office of the First Lady Sam Kass, and Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Spencer. The USDA Power Panther also made an appearance, motivating all in attendance to improve their eating and physical activity behaviors.
Students sang “Happy Birthday” to the museum at the top of their lungs and listened closely as Duncan and his friends read The Butterfly Dance by Gerald Dawavendewa. During the question and answer section following the reading, students quizzed the panel on their favorite books and sports.
Shortly after, the event transitioned to Let’s Move! activities, including a food tasting of banana chips with NMAI Mitsitam Café staff , indoor tennis with Washington Kastles team members Martina Hingis, Anastasia Rodionova, Leander Paes, Bobby Reynolds and Kevin Anderson, igloo building, an obstacle course through “the Wetlands,” complete with a kayak, Yup-ik yo-yo demonstrations, and Hawaiian bowling with the help of the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. At the end of the day, each child left with a new book, healthy snacks, and a book bag courtesy of Target and its partnership with First Book.
The next installments of the Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series are scheduled for: July 16th, July 23rd and July 30, in various locations throughout Washington, D.C. The program supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, which promotes healthy lifestyle choices and nutrition, while also encouraging strong early learning programs to ensure bright futures for children.
For highlights of this week’s event, watch our Let’s Read! Let’s Move! kick-off video:
Molly Block is a rising senior at the University of Michigan. She is interning with the Web Team in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.
Our fourth social media tip sheet is now online!
During the past few weeks, we’ve been presenting clear and concise information about social media messaging for educators and now we’ve released information about measuring those engagement strategies.
State and local agencies participating in the Reform Support Network’s (RSN) survey of State education agencies (SEAs) and local education agencies (LEAs) about the use of social media said that measuring success can seem to bethe most challenging aspect of communications work. As a result, many agencies simply are not measuring success at all or as well as they would like.
This latest tip sheet includes information about trackingsocial media reach and engagement. It also discusses the importance of metricsand working with third-party tools and partners to build comprehensive reports.
To access all of the tip sheets we’ve put together for educators, please visit our Communicating and Engaging: Race to the Top Resources page.
Dorothy Amatucci is a digital engagement strategist at the U.S. Department of Education.
Policy makers have embraced the idea that an increase in college graduates will fuel a better economy for their states. But strings are attached to the modest generosity.
Queens chose a former cabinet secretary in Puerto Rico, while Lone Star picked the president of its North Harris campus. Read about that and other job-related news.
Tim Crain hopes to broaden the focus of the center to include studying intolerance toward Islam.
Long used for practical and applied subjects, competency-based education is moving to the liberal arts. Will this approach improve learning?
A bill aimed at battling the EPA over air pollution has generated consternation and uncertainty among scientists.
They let students jump right into job training by teaching academic skills at the same time.
Nancy E. Mathews, a strong proponent of service learning, leads the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.
As part of his Year of Action, President Obama has taken a series of executive actions to close opportunity gaps and ensure that more students receive the high-quality education that will prepare them for success in college and careers.
Promise Zones Launched in Five Communities
On Jan. 9, President Obama announced the first five “Promise Zones,” where communities and businesses will work together to create jobs, increase economic security, expand educational opportunities, increase access to quality, affordable housing and improve public safety. Three of the Zones involve education-focused Promise Neighborhoods.
My Brother’s Keeper
On Feb. 27, the President joined with philanthropies and the private sector to launch the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative, an effort to close persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people who are willing to work hard work are able to reach their full potential. On May 30, the MBK Federal Task Force issued its 90-day report with recommendations to improve preparation and success in early childhood education, 3rd grade reading, high school and postsecondary school completion, job-training and mentorship opportunities, and public safety.
Accountability for Unaffordable Student Debt
On March 14, ED proposed gainful employment regulations to identify career programs that leave students with debts they cannot afford. The regulations would give programs an opportunity to improve, and stop the flow of federal funding to the lowest-performing programs that fail to improve. Many career and for-profit colleges empower students to succeed by providing high-quality education and career training, but too many of these programs are failing to do so – at the expense of taxpayer dollars and students’ futures.
Increasing College Opportunity
The President is asking colleges, universities, nonprofits, and businesses to develop ways to improve students’ access to and completion of higher education, because a college education is a prerequisite for 21st-century jobs.On Jan. 16, more than 100 colleges, universities and other organizations made new commitments to expand college opportunity.
Redesigning High Schools for College & Career Success
On April 7, over $100 million in grants were awarded – using existing Department of Labor funds – to support high school models that better prepare students for college and career. DOL will finance 24 Youth CareerConnect awards to support partnerships between local education agencies, workforce investment boards, institutions of higher education and employer partners. These grants will help provide students with industry-relevant education and focus on engagement with employers through project-based learning, mentoring and postsecondary credit while in high school.
On Jan. 30, Vice President Biden directed a review of all training programs to ensure they are “job-driven” – preparing and matching those who are ready to work with the skills needed to fill good jobs. Two new grant programs were announced on April 16 to spread models of job-driven training and apprenticeships, along with private-sector commitments that build on these efforts.
On April 25, President Obama directed ED to lay out for public discussion a plan to strengthen America’s teacher preparation programs by this summer and to move forward to publish a final rule within the next year.
Making Progress on ConnectED
On Feb. 4, the Federal Communications Commission announced it would invest $2 billion to increase federal investment in school broadband and wireless. This includes commitments from top technology companies to provide free digital devices, content, and wireless access for K-12 students.
Bringing the Tech Revolution to to More Students
As part of the fourth White House Science Fair on May 27, President Obama announced new steps to help more students excel in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, including a new $35 million teacher training competition. The plan also includes a major expansion of STEM AmeriCorps to provide learning opportunities for 18,000 low-income students.
Strengthening Tribal Communities
On June 13, the President and First Lady made their first trip to Indian Country. Building on the significant progress the President has already made in partnering with tribes on a nation-to-nation basis, the Administration announced actions to strengthen Native American communities through education and economic development. These actions include a Bureau of Indian Education “Blueprint for Reform” to provide a world-class education to all students attending BIE schools and listening sessions to identify ways to improve school climate.
Student Debt: Expanding Pay As You Earn
On June 9, the President directed Secretary Duncan to propose regulations that ensure student debt remains affordable for all students who borrowed federal direct loans by allowing them to cap their payments at 10 percent of their monthly incomes. The Department will aim to make the new plan available to borrowers by December 2015. The Administration is also taking additional steps to help students repay their loans, including providing relief to service members, and renegotiating contracts with federal loan servicers to strengthen incentives that help borrowers repay their loans on time.
Max Luong is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.
The union is teaming up with the Freelancers Union to provide access to health, dental, liability, disability, and life insurance, among other things.
The first school in Germantown, Maryland, was built in 1860. The school was just one large room with a wood stove in the center to keep the students warm in the winter, double desks, and a chalkboard. It served a few dozen children from the first to the 8th grade.
The school itself and the students and staff have come a long way since then. Today, Germantown Elementary School serves a diverse student population of about 300 students from Pre-K through 5th grade. And on June 12, I had the honor of joining them to congratulate 32 amazing students who were being recognized for their hard work by earning the President’s Education Award at Germantown’s 5th grade promotion ceremony.
Surrounded by excited and teary-eyed parents, I joined Principal Amy Bryant and others to celebrate their academic success and urged them to continue setting an example for other students. As we were told by one of the former students, who had returned to offer words of inspiration, “more homework will come [in middle school] — and along with that is more responsibility.”
The President’s Education Awards Program honors student achievement and hard work in the classroom. This award, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education in partnership with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP),recognizes students who meet key criteria. Since 1983, the program has provided individual recognition from the President and U.S. Secretary of Education to those students whose outstanding efforts have enabled them to meet challenging standards of excellence. These students often are pushing the traditional standards of thinking to come up with creative solutions to problems. Overall, these students deliver their best and bring out the best in those around them.
This year’s students received a certificate signed by President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, as well as a congratulatory letter signed by the President.
The 5th grade students of Germantown Elementary School have left their mark for the classes to follow. We applaud their success in fulfilling Germantown’s mission: a learning community where students, staff, and parents work together to create a caring, safe, and positive school environment in which everyone succeeds.
Frances Hopkins is director of the President’s Education Awards Program at the U.S. Department of Education.
Summer is upon us – and with that comes what some call the “summer slide” in students’ academic skills while out of school. There are things that you as a parent can do, though, to take charge and make learning a priority even as the dog days of the season approach.
Below are some ways you can make learning like a sports game. As an “education coach” you can challenge and encourage any child in your life:
- Set goals – What will you and your child accomplish by a set time? Examples: “After two weeks we will know how to count by twos to 50.” Or “After one week we will know how to print your first name.”
- Practice – Take 15 to 20 minutes a day to work on each goal. Talk about the importance of practice and grit – patience and resilience — in making steady progress.
- Put some plays into effect – Look for different ways to apply the skills being developed. Example: Take your child to the store and have her add up the items you have purchased. Get some fresh and free ideas from FREE (Federal Registry for Educational Excellence).
- Make some touchdowns that will make a difference in their upcoming school year. Help your child to see how what he has done over the summer will put him ahead in the fall. Get a workbook or reading book at the grade level in which she will be. By mid-summer take out the book and let her begin to work on the areas she has been practicing.
- Take your team on the road – Have fun and incorporate learning into a summer adventure. Example: Visit a museum, zoo, aquarium, beach or park. Look at maps together and identify where you will visit and how far you will travel. Have your child draw and write about their favorite parts of the trip in the order the events happened.
- Celebrate – Have a mid-summer reward and really celebrate at the end of the summer for all the goals set that your champion has accomplished!
Carrie Jasper is director of outreach to parents and families at the U.S. Department of Education.
Given the amount of data available to Education Department officials, "I have no idea how they could not know," says one scholar of for-profit colleges.
After a campus committee issued a stinging critique, the university decided the $1.1-billion deal was not consistent with its goals.
Player endorsement deals, an idea once considered taboo, have people talking in college sports.
William C. Powers Jr. survived an effort to fire him thanks to a realization: I need friends as powerful as the governor’s.
The legislation would promote competency-based education, expand financial counseling for student-loan borrowers, and streamline data provided to prospective students.
Too many of our children grow up in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty where zip codes determine destinies. To address this inequality, President Obama has laid out a comprehensive strategy to create ladders of opportunity to ensure that all children can achieve social mobility. Education plays a critical role in this strategy, particularly in the President’s Promise Zone initiative.
On June 19, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan traveled to San Antonio, one of the first of five Promise Zones, to participate in a town hall discussion on how the initiative has impacted the community. The discussion took place at Tynan Early Childhood Education Center, where Principal Gregorio Velazquez kicked off the event by introducing an unexpected guest to give the opening remarks and welcome Secretary Duncan. The speaker was Mauricio, a four-year-old student at Tynan who would prove to be the star of the event.
Principal Velazquez describes Mauricio as a remarkably intelligent student. Throughout the school year when he visited Mauricio’s classroom, he was struck by Mauricio’s inquisitiveness and politeness. He stood out among his peers, always asking thoughtful questions and exhibiting extraordinary manners.
The crowd of parents and school administrators was gleaming with pride as young Mauricio, with the help of a step stool, marched up to the podium and confidently began to speak. With incredible poise, Mauricio thanked Secretary Duncan, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, and the parents and community members in the crowd for visiting Tynan.
“We will continue to need your support as we move up to the next level of our education,” he read. “We appreciate all you do to help us with our journey on becoming responsible students and citizens.”
As Mauricio finished, the audience erupted with cheering and applause. Secretary Duncan was beaming, clearly moved by Mauricio’s stellar performance. It was not only the eloquence of Mauricio that touched the audience, but also what his performance symbolized. Mauricio was the epitome of the great success of Tynan and the progress of its surrounding community as one of the Administration’s first designated Zones. He demonstrated that, especially for early learners, a good education goes a long way and has a profound impact on future success.
To date, the Department has awarded more than $200 million in Promise Neighborhood grants. The Promise Zone Initiative has worked to foster partnerships between communities and businesses to create jobs; increase economic security; expand educational opportunities; increase access to quality, affordable housing; and improve public safety. The first five zones are in San Antonio, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Promise Neighborhoods will play an important role in several of the zones.
Anna Kamen is a rising senior at Princeton University. She is interning with the Press Office at the U.S. Department of Education.