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A key official said the department won’t attempt to create a ratings system without accounting for the distinct student bodies that different institutions serve.
Students across the country are heading back to school, which means it’s also time for our annual Back-to-School Bus Tour!
Secretary Arne Duncan and senior ED officials will visit Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. This year’s tour, themed Partners in Progress, will run from September 8-10 and includes visits in the following cities:
- Atlanta, Ga.
- Carrollton, Ga.
- Birmingham, Ala.
- Huntsville, Ala.
- Chattanooga, Tenn.
- Nashville, Tenn.
- Memphis, Tenn.
Throughout the tour, the Secretary will discuss the changes in education and the challenges that accompany them, all while highlighting the champions of reform — teachers, parents, community members, and others — who are leading the effort to improve education for all students.
Secretary Duncan will also showcase the investments the Department has made in each state and discuss initiatives such as Investing in Innovation (i3), Race to the Top state grants, Preschool for All, College Access and My Brother’s Keeper that are aimed at improving outcomes for students.
This is the fifth back-to-school bus tour for Secretary Duncan. Last year, the tour traveled throughout the Southwest. In 2012, the Department’s tour went coast to coast; in 2011, the tour rolled through the Midwest; and in 2010, Duncan and his team visited the South and the Northeast.
Check back soon for additional information on the tour, or simply sign up to receive Partners in Progress updates in your email inbox.
Dorothy Amatucci is a digital engagement strategist at the U.S. Department of Education.
The furor over Stephen J. Trachtenberg’s comments about sexual assault highlights a challenge for institutions whose former leaders maintain outsized public roles.
Mandates from the federal government could help colleges deal with "equity gaps" not only for men of color but also for other disadvantaged groups, a report says.
Some analysts are sounding alarms about President Obama’s rating system. They’re focusing on concepts like risk adjustment and "education deserts."
Many don’t have jobs, live with their parents, and pay too little attention to the news, a new book finds. Colleges must shoulder their share of the blame.
A new book about the Class of 2009 shows how economic measures that judge institutions can overshadow their missions.
Many graduates, the authors found, were struggling at that age. Cast your mind back and see how adrift you were—by taking this scientifically unsound quiz.
When Edward B. Burger was named the new leader of Southwestern University last year, it struck many as an unconventional choice.
College men accused of rape say the scales are tipped against them.
George W. Hilton, an emeritus professor of economics at the University of California at Los Angeles, wrote more than a dozen books about railroads and other transportation.
Transitions: U. of Maryland Chooses Public-Policy Dean From U.N.; Medical Division Chief at Duke Goes to U. of Arizona
Robert C. Orr, the new public-policy dean, is an assistant secretary general at the United Nations.
David C. Iglesias is the new director of the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy at Wheaton College.
Selected New Books on Higher Education
Note: U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognizes schools, districts and postsecondary institutions that are 1) reducing environmental impact and costs; 2) improving health and wellness; and 3) teaching environmental education. To share innovative practices and widely-available resources in these three ‘Pillars,’ the Department conducts an annual Green Strides Best Practices Tour of honorees. A state and local official write about the honorees visited on the tour in Kentucky.
Kentucky schools have been working to make our facilities more sustainable, and to ensure that they support student wellness and environmental literacy. But it was U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) that provided the framework our state needed to address these areas cohesively. The award prompted an open dialogue and helped us reach new stakeholders who might not have otherwise been engaged in sustainability.
Ultimately, each conversation that we have about building performance, student wellness, or environmental learning is rooted in the understanding that they are most effective when addressed together. To bring all of our many partners together and highlight this coordinated work, Kentucky was pleased to co-host the first leg of the second annual Green Strides Best Practices Tour.
Kentucky’s districts that integrate the three pillars of ED-GRS let students take ownership of their school facilities and well-being.
In Scott County, students at Northern Elementary explained to guests how they measured the brightness of their classrooms and then removed overhead bulbs to save money and ensure a better learning environment. At Georgetown Middle School, school leadership emphasizes comprehensive health, ensuring that students have adequate physical activity and nutrition — even outside of school hours — with breakfast, dinner, and weekend meal programs.
At Rosa Parks Elementary in Fayette County, visitors saw the results of the students’ campaign to reduce car idling near school in order to improve public health. The Wellington Elementary School Living Lab team then taught visitors about their sustainable building’s features, including photovoltaic solar panels, a rainwater capture and reuse system, a thermal hot water system, permeable pavers, a rain garden, automatic lighting controls, native landscaping, and an outdoor classroom.
At Locust Trace Agriscience Farm, a student guided visitors through the net zero-building that opened in August of 2011. The school featured permeable pavement, solar panels, solatube daylighting, a green roof, and a constructed wetlands waste disposal system. This low-environmental impact, low-utility cost facility supports green agricultural career paths ranging from Agricultural Power Mechanics to Veterinary Science. Additionally, the small school has formed unique partnerships on the 82-acre farm that benefit other nearby organizations, including culinary and horse training programs.
The tour was a powerful reminder of how Kentucky’s independent programs for sustainability, environmental education, energy management, and health at diverse statewide and local organizations have come together in one unified effort to support schools moving toward the Pillars of ED-GRS.
Seeing the tremendous positive impact this approach has on student achievement in our state, we’re more committed than ever to making our school campuses greener and healthier, and our students more environmentally literate. In order for our community to collaborate in ensuring that all students achieve at high levels and are prepared to excel in a global society, the choice is clear.
Elizabeth Schmitz is Executive Director at the Kentucky Environmental Education Council, part of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. Tresine Logsdon is the Sustainability and Energy Curriculum Coordinator for Fayette County Public Schools in Lexington, Kentucky.
As summer ends and the school year begins, we often think about teachers and students heading back to school. While teachers prepare lessons and students learn new concepts we can’t forget the service employees who provide support that enable the schools to run efficiently.
Instructional support in schools can play a key role in student success. Paraeducators –– support staff responsible for assisting in the delivery of instruction — help provide such support by assisting with classroom management, organizing instructional materials, helping in libraries and media centers, and translating, to name a few of their responsibilities. Perhaps most importantly, paraeducators reinforce the efforts of teachers in the classroom, and help increase student outcomes.
This is why, as President of the California School Employees Association, I want to take the time to tell the story of one school employee in the Golden State who really shines.
Paraeducator Michele Delao, a 2011 California School Employees Association Member of the Year, uses her knowledge and warmth to help special education students learn. For the past eight years as special education paraeducator at Bear River School in Wheatland, California, she has brought light-heartedness and laughter to the serious mission of showing special education students that they can thrive.
The staff of Bear River School laud Delao’s ability to help students focus and grasp instruction.
“She has a very striking sense of humor that comforts the kids and takes the pressure off,” explains Angela Gouker, principal of Bear River School. “Most of these kids know they’re a little bit behind or struggling in some areas. She makes learning fun so that they forget that pressure.”
Delao says it’s satisfying to see the students’ progress. With her help, the students can attend mainstream middle school classes even as they’re working to master the basics.
With budget cuts and fewer staff dedicated to special education, the paraeducators at Bear River School have taken on a larger load of students with a broader range of learning disabilities. Despite the challenge, Delao tailors her approach to fit each student.
“They’re having great difficulties and there are great variations in each person,” she says. “But because there are only three of us, our groups are really not as targeted as we would like. I have to find a middle ground and at the same time try to meet individual students where they are.”
Understanding the needs and challenges of working with diverse learners, including special education students, Delao comes to work each day fired by the energy, compassion and will to give the students she mentors a boost toward academic success. And, she does it all with a smile.
“She really cares about what she does – she cares about people – and that sense of humor comes through,” Gouker said. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Michael Bilbrey is president of the California School Employees Association.
The newspaper's new project isn't trying to pick the best colleges. It’s more interested in how well they attract underprivileged students.
The discipline should take concrete steps to support scholar outreach, including training and awards, says a report released at its association’s annual meeting.
Note: U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognizes schools, districts and postsecondary institutions that are 1) reducing environmental impact and costs; 2) improving health and wellness; and 3) teaching environmental education. To share innovative practices and widely-available resources in these three ‘Pillars,’ the Department conducts an annual Green Strides Best Practices Tour of honorees. Two non-profit organization school sustainability leaders write about the schools and district honorees visited on the tour in West Virginia.
Here in West Virginia, we were excited to highlight our U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School (ED-GRS) honorees during the second annual Green Strides Best Practices Tour. West Virginia was a fitting place to kick off the 2014 tour because, when the ED-GRS program was announced a few years ago, non-profit organizations like ours were quick to offer support to our state education agency.
Before 2011, many organizations were holding green schools workshops and events that helped participants develop plans to become more sustainable. But ED-GRS has provided a common goal for those engaged in the sustainable schools movement, and a new direction for our conversation on healthy schools and high-achieving students.
What has emerged is West Virginia Sustainable Schools (WVSS) initiative, which we use to recruit applicants for the national award. Led by the West Virginia Department of Education, WVSS has become a conduit through which agencies and organizations channel sustainability programming in curriculum, health and wellness, and facilities to schools.
ED-GRS has helped what was once a small but deeply-rooted sustainability community to grow less isolated, and more effective. Now we are using a few exemplary schools to inspire other schools to expand their efforts.
For this reason, it was a particular pleasure to have federal, state and local visitors tour our ED-GRS honorees to learn about innovative, hands-on curricula, community partnerships, and sustainability practices that advance learning, health and cost savings.
From pulling invasive garlic mustard weed to monitoring water quality in a local stream, Petersburg Elementary School, our first stop, partners with field experts to effectively teach science and stewardship while conserving Appalachia’s precious land.
Later, at Wyoming County Career and Technical Center, in the heart of coal country, students, school leaders, and community partners led guests through an energy efficient modular home, a 8.4 kW solar array, a biodiesel processor, and a recycling trailer, all student-built in sustainable career pathways.
In Marshall County Schools, we toured Hilltop Elementary and Cameron Middle-High School. Marshall County has made sustainable building practices and learning a priority from early learning to agricultural technology programs, saving the district over $5 million in 10 years. From low-impact buses to green cleaning, recycling to school gardens, these schools are teaching environmental concepts, along with entrepreneurial and civic skills, and wellness practices, in healthy, safe, lower utility-cost facilities.
Finally, visitors toured Eastwood Elementary in Morgantown, where every attention was given to reducing environmental impact and improving health in the construction of the new facility, from its geothermal heating and cooling system to expansive daylighting to safe and healthy building materials.
Where we once felt we were facing an insurmountable task – striving for increased health and a sustainable future for the children of our state – we now feel a new sense of purpose and momentum. A sustainably literate, college- and career-ready, and civically-engaged generation of West Virginians is on the rise. Striving toward the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools’ three Pillars is now our unifying Mountain State goal.
Vicki Fenwick-Judy is Director of the Appalachian Program at The Mountain Institute. Mark Swiger is a USGBC Center for Green Schools’ Chapter Committees National Chair.