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Under a bipartisan plan, students who are in the country illegally could become citizens in five years, and some foreign students could stay to work after earning graduate degrees.
Michael G. Riley, editorial director of Bloomberg Government, will be The Chronicle's chief executive officer and editor in chief.
While 89 percent of high-school teachers said their students were ready for college work, just a quarter of college faculty members agreed, a survey found.
Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” April 9th was Arts Advocacy Day here in Washington, D.C., and thousands of advocates from across the country came to rally in support of arts education programs in our schools, pre-K through high school, that will solve the problem Picasso described.
The arts are an integral part of a well-rounded education, and a recent school survey by the Department revealed that millions of American students, particularly in high-need schools, have either minimal or no access to instruction in the arts. To miss out on arts learning opportunities is to miss out on gaining the very skills and habits of mind we know are essential to succeeding in life and earning a livelihood in the 21st century: creativity; observing as opposed to simply seeing; identifying as well as solving problems; thinking outside the box; and communicating with not just words but with images, sounds, and motion — these and more are inherently part of a regularly scheduled, quality arts education program.
Each Arts Advocacy Day is preceded by the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy, and this year’s lecturer, world-renown cellist and member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) Yo-Yo Ma, focused on the need for arts education in his “Art for Life’s Sake” lecture before a capacity audience at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall. Clearly, Yo-Yo Ma has lived out Picasso’s hope of remaining an artist, but just as important is his unflagging commitment to making that hope a reality for America’s young people through his work with PCAH’s Turnaround Arts initiative (a collaborative effort with ED), the Silk Road Project, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
In thousands of communities represented by arts advocates here last week, school boards are facing the same budget concerns and school leaders are facing the same tough decisions they were four years ago. But investing in arts education is a smart, pay-forward investment in every child’s education and future. It’s among the “smart ideas” I’ve advocated before, and now is an excellent time to reiterate it.
And because it’s also a smart idea to invest in ideas and strategies for school improvement that are based on research, the Arts Education Partnership, which is supported by ED and the National Endowment for the Arts, last year launched ArtsEdSearch, an online clearinghouse for high-quality research on arts education. The first of its kind, ArtsEdSearch contains a growing number of valid research studies on the impact of arts education on students’ cognitive, emotional, and social development; on professional development outcomes for arts educators and teaching artists; and on academic achievement and other outcomes associated with arts learning in school- and community-based programs.
ArtsEdge is another source of smart ideas for arts education. Its free digital resources include lesson plans, audio stories, video clips, and interactive online modules. With support from OII’s National Arts in Education Program, the Kennedy Center’s Education Department makes these quality resources — many of which are from the Center’s own educational performances and professional development programs — available to thousands of schools and community arts partners nationwide.
Arts Advocacy Day 2013 is behind us, but we hope we will use it to renew a commitment nationwide to make our children whole through the arts and to get on to the important work still to be done to make the arts an essential part of every child’s education. We shouldn’t accept anything less.
Doug Herbert is a special assistant in the Office of Innovation and Improvement and works on issues of national arts education policy and practice.
President Obama has proclaimed April to be Financial Capability Month, and what better time to focus on the range of tools available to students and their families to make smart financial decisions around postsecondary education?
In his proclamation, President Obama noted the new tools released by the Department of Education that give students and families clear, transparent information on college costs so they can make good choices when they invest in higher education. One of these tools—the College Scorecard—is part of President Obama’s continued efforts to hold colleges accountable for cost, value and quality. The Scorecard highlights key indicators about the cost and value of institutions across the country, helping students choose a school that is well-suited to meet their needs, is priced affordably, and is consistent with their educational and career goals.
The Obama administration has also simplified the FAFSA, the free application for federal student aid, which is the first step in determining eligibility for federal grants and loans. In addition, ED is empowering high school counselors and local leaders through the FAFSA Completion Project to help ensure that students get all of the aid for which they qualify by giving them a resource to monitor FAFSA completion rates of their students.
Furthermore, ED recently released a suite of new tools to help students and families make informed and wise decisions around college financial decisions. The Financial Aid Shopping Sheet is an individualized financial aid award letter in a standardized format that helps students understand their costs and compare financial aid packages from different institutions so they can make smart decisions on investing in higher education. ED has also improved the financial education tools available to students, and within the last year we have revamped entrance and exit loan counseling and introduced a financial education tool for students in college.
President Obama has set a goal that the United States will once again lead the world in college completion. We will reach this goal only if we ensure that all students have the opportunity to access and complete postsecondary education—and are equipped to make the important financial decisions that will lead to a strong middle class. The US Department of Education stands committed to providing ladders of opportunity to make this a reality for all students, starting with sound financial knowledge and tools.
Martha Kanter is the Under Secretary of Education
For two days, leaders of state and provincial education systems in two of the largest countries in the world — China and the United States – shared ideas and discussed efforts to improve teacher quality and the performance of weak or underachieving schools. With the Council of Chief State Schools Officers, the Asia Society, Harvard University and the U.S. Department of Education as partners, Mitchell Chester, Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, hosted leaders from nine provinces and 13 states to build on and deepen a dialogue that started in Beijing last year.
The U.S. and China are intensifying efforts to benchmark their education systems against other systems around the globe and to learn what other countries are doing that could be helpful at home. Shanghai, one of China’s leading provinces, participated in the PISA international test of student learning for the first time in 2009 and shot to the top of the international standings. This substantially increased interest around the world in what Shanghai– and by extension the rest of China– is doing to improve its educational outcomes.
Chinese and U.S. leaders visited two highly diverse schools: Boston’s Orchard Garden Pilot School, a turnaround school whose students have shown double digit gains in achievement in the past two years, and Cambridge’s Graham and Parks School, an elementary school whose students have over 4O home languages. The Chinese were particularly impressed by the teachers’ respect for differences and diversity and their attention to helping each child succeed whether he/she speaks English, is a strong student or a struggling learner.
The leadership teams at both schools embrace the belief that high quality staff who build meaningful relationships with students and their families will help students to achieve at high levels. Extended learning time, a deep connection to the arts, and a strong student support system have yielded positive results at Orchard Garden School in a short time. Graham and Parks School has a clear theory of action–if adults learn together and seek out and solve problems together student achievement improves. Both schools clearly demonstrate that a focused vision on student success can be achieved by a caring and dedicated staff.
Provincial leaders in China also described their efforts to turnaround weak or underachieving schools. Shanghai, for example, is trying a number of approaches including asking the principals of high-performing schools to also manage a low-performing school and creating clusters of high- and lower-performing schools where teams of experienced teachers are transferred into the weaker schools to help improve the quality of teaching and learning. The results are evaluated after two years to determine next steps.
While education efforts are huge and highly diverse between and within the U.S. and China there are many common challenges. The common challenges—especially how to educate all children to high levels –and the desire to learn from each other bring us together. Learning from other countries to improve U.S. education and advance U.S. international priorities is a key objective of the Department’s international strategy.
Maureen McLaughlin is senior advisor to the Secretary and director of International Affairs
Yesterday we kicked off National Environmental Education Week. This year’s theme spotlights ways technology can enhance environmental learning. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan offered his perspective in a new public service announcement to celebrate EE Week. “We know so many of the jobs of the future are in the STEM fields,” Duncan said. “There are so many great ties between STEM education and environmental education. If we really want to keep those good jobs in this country, if we want our students prepared – I think there’s no better way to start to get at that, whether it’s in 2nd grade or in 11th or 12th grade, than to get kids out in the outdoors with environmental education.”
This also includes preparing for new ideas on how to get students outdoors and learning. To help accomplish this, Duncan will announce the second annual U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and first-ever District Sustainability Awardees on April 22nd at 10:30am EST (watch the event live). Honored schools and districts will have an important role to play modeling best practices for other schools that wish to provide an education geared toward the challenges and jobs of the future, which is why ED will release a report with case studies on each of the honorees.
Happy National Environmental Education Week and, get ready, the Ribbons are coming….!
Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.
Andrea Falken is director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools
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