Higher Education News
Education is the great engine of our democracy and the fuel for that engine is the opportunities students have to engage in activism on issues that are important to them. It is the job of adult allies to nurture and support student in this endeavor. Seven student leaders from across the country came to ED to share how they successfully accomplished advocacy efforts on their respective high schools and colleges campuses, specifically identifying the supports they received and how government: teachers, principals, school board members, public college/university administrators, state legislatures, and yes federal officials can best support them in their advocacy efforts.
Taylor and Mecca, both members of the Baltimore Intersection, are high school students in Baltimore and have successfully advocated to the people of Baltimore and the Baltimore City Council passed the Children and Youth Investment Act. This Baltimore City Council Act is a first-of-its-kind fund to pump $31 million in new funding into programs geared toward children and youth. Taylor shared that without the Intersection she would not be the advocate she is today, “In my house we don’t talk about politics, sports or religion. The intersection gave me this opportunity to find my voice.”
Sol Ortega, a first-generation college student was not an activist in high school, but developed her passion through learning about DACA at Valencia Community College and after transferring to University of Florida she became involved in the La Casita program and heard her friends and peers share their experiences being undocumented. Advocating for equitable tuition rates for immigrant students within Florida became her focus and she became an active member in the Gators for Tuition Equality and urged the Florida legislature to support all students in attaining a college education.
Payton Head, former Student Government President of University of Missouri, shared about barriers he faced with the “Missouri state legislature pursued placing sanctions (eliminating funding) for activism on campuses and the DOJ stepping in to help secure campus when state leadership would not intervene during threats.” He did not overcome these barriers alone, but found a community of student government leaders thought he National Campus Leadership Council to share best practices for activism and advocacy, learn about the success stories of student organizations doing work to address a myriad of issues on college campuses. This community provided him support, tactics, and helped him address some of the issues during his tenure representing around 28,000 students Missou.
As the session came to a close, a student leader asked Secretary King about holding future education leaders accountable and he responded with four ideas:
- Political activism and organizing needs to happen all the time, not just during election season.
- Coalition building needs to be broader, bring together high school, college students, adult advocates.
- Don’t only be D.C. focused, work on the state, local and institutional levels.
- Collect data, information and stories to advocate for your respective issues.
This session was a part of the ongoing “Student Voices” series at the Department through which students engage with senior staff members to help develop recommendations on current and future education programs and policies.
Sam Ryan, Youth Liaison, Office of Communication and Outreach.
The post Creating an Educational System that Supports Democracy Through Student Activism appeared first on ED.gov Blog.
Nine times in twenty-eight years of teaching I’ve gone through the training of a new principal in my high school. Nine times! And to make matters more frustrating, the replacement always seems to be the philosophical and pedagogical opposite of the one he or she is replacing. The gentle farmer replaced by the fire-breathing nun, the retired Navy commander replaced by a Phi Beta Kappan from a Denver suburb, the teacher-friendly curriculum specialist replaced by education’s answer to a prison warden. You get the idea. Most recently this trend continued with a beloved, student-centered Principal of the Year being replaced by a National Guard Lieutenant Colonel in the Infantry. My English department (really the entire staff) looked to me for guidance on how to bridge this transition of power.
My experience has taught me that principals are hired for a reason seldom related to continuing the work of her or his predecessor. Often they are hired to correct a perceived weakness in the previous principal or to correct a problem that irks several board members (low attendance, weak test scores, a mediocre sports program, or poor performance on fire and tornado drills — really). For whatever reason, the new principal has now redecorated the office, hired a new receptionist, and changed the letterhead. He or she is now in charge. What should teachers do?
First, adopt an attitude to do what you can to help the new principal succeed.
Beginning with a negative mindset will produce nothing but tension and set in motion a struggle teachers cannot win. Help the principal to get to know the students, invite her or him to your class, and practice professionalism in your relationships with students, parents and faculty. Be your best self.
Second, be open to new ideas.
Consider the principal’s decision to require daily lesson plans, weekly faculty meetings after school, all of the faculty teaching ACT vocabulary, or journaling at the beginning of each class. Perhaps considering the new policies will spark a discussion that will lead to an idea that will genuinely help students improve. A principal’s new policy often morphs into one that the principal and faculty can agree on when the principal perceives teachers are positive, thoughtful and professional.
Third, be honest.
Do not sacrifice your educational beliefs about what works in a classroom and how a school should function. The focus should always be on what will benefit students. Your principles should not be surrendered to appease a new administrator’s point of view. But, they can be shared with a considerate tone and empathetic conversation.
Personally, after nine such experiences, I found some personal practices that helped me make the transition. If I was bothered by something the new principal promoted, I would take a walk. I always thought better and more deeply when I took a relaxing walk through the school halls, around the football field, or up the trail through senior hill. Often I would write in my journal. I agree with what Roger Rosenblatt opined, “Writing requires generosity toward every point of view.” But I practiced without fail something my grandmother, a retired English teacher, once told me when I had a disagreement with my best friend: “I believe in the power of kindness. Kindness is not weak but strong, not disagreeable but redemptive.” Who could argue with a lesson like that?
Jeff Baxter, the 2014 Kansas Teacher of the Year, teaches AP Literature at Blue Valley West High School in Overland Park, KS. A graduate of the University of Kansas with Bachelor’s Degrees in Education and English and a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education, he also has a Juris Doctorate from Washburn University School of Law. In his twenty-nine years of teaching, Jeff has taught non-readers to National Merit Finalists.
Today, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) launches its first developer hub, a dedicated space for centralizing our developer resources, documenting open government efforts at the agency, and celebrating what you have built using ED data and code.
Work began last year to redesign how the Department engages technologists. Partnering with 18F, the federal government’s digital consultancy agency, ED’s open data initiative, InformED, developed a two-pronged approach to better serve developers: (1) establish a presence on Github and (2) create a central location for developer-focused content.
What We’ve Built (And Why)
When we started developing the hub, we wanted to address a few outstanding needs.
First, we needed to organize and grow our selection of open source projects and APIs. For some time, the College Scorecard API and code repository were all that we could feature. To expand our offerings, 18F helped us set up an instance of their open source project, AutoAPI, an API engine that converts flat files into a web service. That technology gives ED a simple and easy way to deliver more APIs. We used it to create a set of My Brother’s Keeper APIs and Civil Rights Data Collection APIs, providing additional access points to compelling student equity data. Now centrally located and documented, these resources (and those to come) will be more discoverable and easier to use.
Next, we needed to consolidate news on how ED is working to improve education’s digital landscape and access to federal education data. The hub’s News section is where we can share information about the progress of open government innovation at ED. By cataloguing our successes here, the public can better understand what we’ve done—and what more we have to do. We hope this cache of stories will support ongoing conversations about the importance of open data and embracing digital technology.
Finally, we needed a space to highlight the work of developers who have used ED’s resources to bring incredible ideas to life. The hub’s interactive app gallery allows you to explore how others are translating federal education resources and data into actionable tools for a wide range of users. Take a look and get inspired!
Development of the hub took several months. By incorporating only openly licensed components, such as the source code for CFPB’s brilliant developer hub, we saved resources and time. It also ensures that internal and external users can repurpose what we have built however they see fit.
We’re Just Beginning… And We Need You!
These are foundational efforts. At launch, our catalog of ED APIs and open source components is limited—but will expand with your help. In launching a developer hub and Github account, ED sees the beginning of a stronger, more collaborative relationship with the developer community.
ED hopes these platforms grow to reflect what you, the user, would like to see from them. We want your feedback. Tell us what APIs you would like to see and your ideas for improving our datasets and documentation. We’re listening. Help us build a better partnership, so that we can build a better world for students—together!
InformED is the U.S. Department of Education’s primary open data initiative whose mission is to establish a world-class open data infrastructure at ED.