Higher Education News
June is Immigrant Heritage Month. In recognition of the diverse linguistic and cultural assets of immigrants and the value they have brought and continue to bring to the United States, the Department of Education will share the immigration stories of its staff throughout the month of June.
I was raised, along with my two brothers and three sisters, just about 30 miles Northwest of Brussels in a small village that has since become part of a much larger medieval city called Aalst, Belgium. My mother stayed home to raise us while my father worked as a laborer in a company that grew cut flowers and experimented with cloning. When we were teenagers my father purchased the same company where he’d been a laborer. This allowed our family to ascend into the middle classes. However, a few years later foreign competition and rising labor costs made it impossible for my father’s company to compete within this changing market. Times were equally hard for workers.
At the time I received my degree to become a middle school Language Arts and History teacher, youth unemployment—even among those with postsecondary education or training—was high. Luckily, I landed a one-year teaching assignment out of school in a vocational school where the students had difficulties learning. I loved it. My students were awesome and although they struggled with literacy and numeracy they were all great at their trade. This experience, along with the perspective I gained volunteering with immigrant youth and low-skilled adults, was a key factor in my commitment to addressing the skill imperative in my community. I created a non-profit for adults without high school credentials and merged it three years later with two other non-profits focused on adult literacy and immigrant language services. Like any young man, I’d worked my fair share of odd jobs to pay the bills, but these opportunities were different. They were more formative and allowed me to work in areas where I felt passionately. Partnering with the other non-profit organizations allowed us to create a municipal education collaborative that subsequently became a fully publicly funded and professionally staffed municipal basic education center. After receiving a Master’s in Teaching from Vermont’s School for International Training, I moved to Boston with Alison, a graduate school classmate who became my wife and the mother of our twin boys, Stephen and Elliot.
It was in Boston that I began my U.S. teaching career at the Y, where I made $120 a week. Alison supplemented that by teaching workplace ESL just across the bridge in Cambridge. I went on to find a full-time job teaching refugees at a program run by the Asian-American Civic Association (AACA) and then began to teach at garment shops and nursing homes before eventually doing program coordination and administrative work. It was a wonderful time. I loved teaching, and still do, because I can facilitate opportunities for hard-working youth and adults to improve their English, literacy, and numeracy skills so they can find pathways into the middle class.
At the encouragement of friends and colleagues, at the age of 40 I went back to school to get a Master’s in International Education and a Doctorate in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. This allowed me to move into new areas of work in the public and private sectors at the local and state levels, and now at the national level.
My experiences as an immigrant—both the challenging and rewarding ones—are always on my mind as I am confronted with daily decisions that affect immigrants, refugees, and other often disadvantaged individuals and communities. In my role as the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, I strive to promote access to, participation in and completion of high-quality educational opportunities for all Americans, including our newest ones. I do this work so that they can obtain the necessary academic and technical skills to achieve the American dream and pursue a pathway to citizenship—like I have been so fortunate to do while serving in the Obama administration.
Johan Uvin is the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education.
Columbia University’s move to dispose of investments in private prison companies highlights how student activists are expanding their aims.
Faced with falling enrollments and high dropout rates, the university, which once had 460,000 students, plans to pare that number to 150,000 by next year.
Oaksterdam University is not an accredited institution, but that has not stood in the way of its budding growth, among users, purveyors, and planters.
The Supreme Court stands to revive the affirmative-action debate and throw questions of class into the mix.
Los padres son un ingrediente imprescindible de la educación. Los padres pueden ser la voz de grandes expectativas para los niños y para apoyar a los educadores en la creación de escuelas donde todos los niños reciban lo que necesitan para tener éxito. Una excelente educación es un derecho civil de cada niño; y mientras que nuestra nación ha dado grandes pasos, incluido una tasa récord de graduación de escuela secundaria, y asistencia a la universidad en máximos históricos, tenemos mucho camino por recorrer para asegurar que todos los niños tengan las mismas oportunidades de aprender.
Los padres pueden desempeñar un papel clave en exigir una educación de clase mundial para sus hijos, como se merecen. Pero, para muchos padres y familias puede ser una tarea incierta determinar cuál es la mejor manera de apoyar a sus hijos o qué preguntas deben hacer para asegurar que sus hijos aprendan y se desarrollen.
Por eso hoy, hablando desde el punto de vista de un padre de dos niños pequeños, el secretario Arne Duncan describió un conjunto de derechos educativos que debe tener cada familia en Estados Unidos, durante su discurso en la Convención Nacional de la PTA en Charlotte, Carolina del Norte. Este conjunto de tres derechos fundamentales que tienen las familias puede unir a todos los que trabajan para asegurar que los estudiantes estén preparados para prosperar en la escuela y en la vida. Estos derechos acompañan la trayectoria educativa del estudiante, incluido el acceso a la educación preescolar de calidad; la participación en escuelas primarias y secundarias seguras, dotadas con buenos recursos, y que requieren un alto nivel de todos los estudiantes; y acceso a una educación superior de calidad a precio asequible.
Los padres y las familias pueden usar estos elementos básicos y necesarios de una excelente educación para construir relaciones más profundas con los educadores, administradores y líderes de la comunidad en apoyo de las escuelas, para que estos derechos se conviertan en realidad. Durante la Convención, el secretario Duncan también declaró su esperanza de que los padres le pidan cuentas a los funcionarios electos y los demás responsables, para acelerar el progreso en la educación y ampliar las oportunidades a más niños, especialmente los más vulnerables de nuestra nación.
Las declaraciones del secretario Duncan sobre este conjunto de derechos complementa el trabajo del Departamento de Educación para llegar a los padres, incluido la iniciativa Marco de desarrollo de capacidad dual para establecer alianzas entre las familias y las escuelas, presentada el año pasado; las herramientas que pueden ayudar a las familias y los estudiantes a seleccionar la universidad más adecuada para ellos; y el apoyo de los Centros de Capacitación e Información para Padres, y otros centros de recursos.
Durante su estancia en Charlotte, el secretario Duncan también participó en el panel “Escuelas Preparadas para el Futuro” (Future Ready Schools) para enfatizar la importancia de integrar la tecnología en el aula, sobre todo como una herramienta para promover la equidad para todos los estudiantes.
Para aprender más sobre los derechos que el secretario Duncan discutió hoy y para encontrar otros recursos para padres y familias, visite la página web del Departamento: Participación Familiar y Comunitaria. También considere unirse al secretario Duncan en una charla en Twitter para continuar el diálogo sobre la participación de los padres en la educación, que se celebrará el 1 de julio a las 1:30 p.m., hora del este, usando #PTChat.
Tiffany Taber es la jefa de personal para Desarrollo de Comunicaciones en el Departamento de Educación de EE.UU.
Sweet Briar’s remarkable return from the dead is not particularly surprising when you consider the factors that tend to keep small private colleges open.
The software helps align curricula with employers’ needs, in part by making sure everyone’s using the same terminology.
As College of Charleston’s President Speaks on Confederate Flag, Faculty Question His Timing and Message
Glenn F. McConnell’s personal history with the flag has complicated his response to the brewing controversy over its prominence in South Carolina.
Students and professors will have more choices on where to enroll or seek a job. Religious colleges expressed some fears.
Parents are critical assets in education. Parents can be a voice for high expectations for children and for supporting educators in creating schools where all children receive what they need to succeed. An excellent education is every child’s civil right; and while our nation has made great strides—with a record high school graduation rate and college enrollment at all-time highs—we have much further to go to ensure that every child has equal opportunity to learn.
Parents can play a key role in demanding the world-class education that their children deserve. But, for many parents and families, it can be an uncertain task determining the best ways to support their children or the right questions to ask to ensure their children are learning and growing.
That’s why, today, speaking from the perspective of a father of two young children, Secretary Arne Duncan described a set of educational rights that should belong to every family in America in a speech at the National PTA Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. This set of three foundational family rights can unite everyone who works to ensure that students are prepared to thrive in school and in life. These rights follow the educational journey of a student—from access to quality preschool; to engagement in safe, well-resourced elementary and secondary schools that hold all students to high standards; to access to an affordable, quality college degree.
Parents and families can use these basic—but necessary—elements of an excellent education to build deeper relationships with educators, administrators, and community leaders to support schools so that these rights become realities. At the Convention, Secretary Duncan also noted his hope that parents will hold elected officials and others accountable for accelerating progress in education and expanding opportunity to more children—particularly our nation’s most vulnerable.
Secretary Duncan’s discussion of this set of rights complements work by the Education Department to reach out to parents—from the Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships released last year, to tools that can help families and students select the best colleges for their needs, to support of Parent Training and Information Centers and resource hubs.
While in Charlotte, Secretary Duncan also participated in a “Future Ready Schools” panel to emphasize the importance of integrating technology into the classroom, especially as a tool for promoting equity for all students.
To learn more about the rights that Secretary Duncan discussed today and to find other resources for parents and families, visit the Department’s Family and Community Engagement page. And, consider joining Secretary Duncan in a Twitter chat to continue the dialogue about parent involvement in education on July 1 at 1:30 p.m., ET, using #PTChat.
Tiffany Taber is Chief of Staff for Communications Development at the U.S. Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education offers a number of affordable repayment options for borrowers who are struggling to pay back their student loans. The important thing to remember about all the options below is that it’s completely free to apply! Also, if you ever have questions or need FREE advice about your student loans, you can always contact your Department of Education loan servicer.
1. Switch Your Repayment Plan
You may be able to lower your monthly student loan payment by switching to a different repayment plan. Use this calculator to compare what your monthly payment amount could be if you switched your plan.
If you don’t pick a different plan when entering repayment, you are automatically enrolled in the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan. However, many borrowers don’t realize that you can switch your plan at any time by contacting your loan servicer.
One of the most popular options for borrowers who are looking to lower their payments is the income-driven repayment plans.
We offer three income-driven repayment plans:
- Pay As You Earn
- Your monthly payment will be a percentage of your income. Depending on the plan, that may be 10% or 15% of your discretionary income, or something else. What you ultimately pay depends on the plan you choose and when you borrowed, but in all cases, it should be something you can afford.
- Your monthly payment amount will be lower than it would be under the 10-Year Standard Repayment Plan if you qualify to make payments based on your income. In fact, it could be as low as $0 per month!
- Any remaining balance on your loans is forgiven if your federal student loans are not fully repaid at the end of the repayment period (20 or 25 years).
Income-driven repayment plans are a great option if you need lower monthly payments. However, like all benefits, there are also costs. All of these benefits will ultimately increase the amount of interest you pay over time. The income-driven repayment plans also have tax consequences for any forgiveness received.
If one of the income-driven repayment plans is not a good option for you, we offer other options. Your servicer can help you identify the best plan to fit your needs.
2. Consolidate your Student Loans
Loan consolidation can simplify your payments by combining multiple federal student loans into one loan. Consolidation can also lower your monthly payment.
- Can lower your monthly payment by extending your repayment period (spreading your payment out over more years). The repayment term ranges from 10 to 30 years, depending on the amount of your consolidation loan, your other education loan debt, and the repayment plan you select.
- Will allow you to qualify for additional repayment options. If you have FFEL or Direct PLUS Loans, consolidating your loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan will allow you to qualify for additional repayment plans, such as the Pay As You Earn or Income-Contingent Repayment Plans, that you wouldn’t have qualified for if you hadn’t consolidated.
- Your variable interest rate loans will switch to a fixed interest rate. It’s important to note that consolidation will lock-in interest rates on variable-rate loans, but will not lower them further. This would be a benefit if, like now, interest rates are low.
The benefits listed could provide relief to some borrowers. However, it’s important that you also weigh the costs before consolidating. For example, because you’re restarting and possibly extending your repayment period, you’ll pay more interest over time. Additionally, you may lose borrower benefits, such as interest rate discounts and loan cancellation benefits, offered with the original loans.
3. Postpone your Payments
Under certain circumstances, you can receive a deferment or forbearance that allows you to temporarily postpone or reduce your federal student loan payments.
Deferment and forbearance may be a good option for you if you are temporarily having a difficult time paying back your student loans. Deferment and forbearance are not good long-term solutions. If you think you’ll have trouble paying back your loans for more than a year or you’re uncertain, you should consider an income-driven repayment plan or consolidation.
- You do not need to make student loan payments during a deferment or forbearance.
- The federal government may pay the interest on your loan during a period of deferment. This depends on the type of loans you have.
Again, deferment and forbearance are not good long-term solutions for borrowers who are struggling to pay back their student loans. Some reasons why:
- With a deferment, interest will continue to be charged on your unsubsidized loans (or on any PLUS loans).
- With a forbearance, interest will continue to be charged on all loan types, including subsidized loans.
- The interest you accrue during periods of deferment or forbearance may be capitalized (added to your principal balance), and the amount you pay in the future will be higher.
If you can, you should consider making interest payments on your loans during periods of deferment or forbearance
To request a deferment or forbearance, contact your loan servicer
If you need help deciding which of these options is best for you, contact your loan servicer. They can help you weigh the different options based on your unique situation.
Nicole Callahan is a Digital Engagement Strategist at Federal Student Aid.
The ratings won't happen, but the two-year debate over the proposal is sure to influence accountability efforts in the future.
The university has drawn new scrutiny for dismissing a tenured instructor mainly for using obscene language and jokes around students.
Timothy M. Wolfe of the University of Missouri system says higher ed needs to do a better job of defending itself when its budget comes under attack.
New York is poised to become the second state to require institutions to note instances of misconduct on a student’s permanent record.
I am deeply honored to have been appointed by the U.S. Department of Education to be Special Master. Other activities with regards to alleged predatory activity in the offering of education and training, particularly to low and moderate income Americans. I believe that working with all the stakeholders in this very important issue, the Department of course, students, people who represent them, state attorneys general and others, we can craft a fair efficient means of giving redress to people who have been wronged. I’m very excited about this opportunity and look forward to working with the Department and others to a good end for all Americans.
I’ve learned through my work as monitor under the National Mortgage Settlement about the importance of public trust and confidence. I undertake to do everything I can in this new endeavor to keep the public informed and to justify that trust and confidence.
From as far back as I can remember, copies of the National Geographic in my grandparents’ home fascinated me. Unfolding the maps, I placed my finger over cities with names like Yangon, Nairobi, Saigon. I looked at pictures of villages in Africa, in China, and dreamed of meeting the people there. For a girl growing up in the Texas panhandle, this was indeed a dream. Little did I know that the world would come to me in the faces of students from countries as diverse as Burma, Somalia, Kenya, Cuba, Vietnam and Iraq.
The first year I taught refugee students, my co-teacher and I had almost no knowledge of how to work with students from countries other than Mexico. Their families were placed here because so many are able to process beef for wages unheard of in their home countries without the need for much language skill.
My students are the bravest people I’ve ever met. From their drawings, a few photos, and their writing, I know that they’ve come from the kind of trauma most of us will never experience. Children from Africa came from a camp where home was little more than a tarp and a butane burner. Rationed food often ran out before resupply trucks came. Basic survival took most of their energy and school was a dream for other children.
Hawa, a beautiful Bantu girl who came from the Kakuma camp in Kenya, had never sat in a school until she came to the U.S. Teaching her to write her name in English was a revelation to her and she wrote it everywhere. Her enthusiasm for Texas extended to wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey over her hijab.
Tin, whose family fled warfare in her native Burma, handed her over a razorwire fence into a camp in Bangkok, convinced that she would find a better life in the U.S. In my classes, she tutored other students, hugged those who cried, and was a founding member of her Buddhist youth group. Others from Burma: ethnic minorities from the Karen, Karenni, and Chin cultures, joined the class and offered to share lunches out of their tiffins with their teachers.
Their smiles gave no clue to what they left behind: villages burned, family members murdered. Many were separated from parents, most from their best friends. They’ve had to quickly learn to speak and read English so they can translate for family and neighbors. One of our 14-year-olds was gone for a week because she had to translate the breast cancer treatment plan for an older relative.
When I’ve visited students and their families in what appears to be plain homes and apartments, I’ve left amazed at their creativity. The families have put up altars, rugs, tapestries, successfully grafting some of home into their new communities. Within their tightly knit neighborhoods they’ve built temples and mosques, joined churches, and celebrated weddings and funerals. But despite outward differences, these families want what we all want for our children: for the next generation to thrive and prosper.
Our refugee families help to make us a better school and our communities a better place to live because their belief in the American dream is a reminder of why our country is a beacon of hope to the world.
Shanna Peeples is an English teacher at Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, Texas. She was named the 2015 National Teacher of the Year.
From the start of this Administration, President Obama has charged our team to join him in doing everything we can to make college an affordable reality for everyone. As part of that effort, in August 2013, he asked us to develop a system that will help students compare the value offered by colleges and that will hold institutions accountable for preparing their students to be successful.
Today, I want to update you on our progress as part of that effort.
Since the President outlined this initiative, we have seen even more progress toward these broader goals. The higher education conversation has shifted from simply ensuring access to one that focuses on success – supporting students through completion and readiness for careers, citizenship and life. We’ve recognized that there is great value in the colleges and universities who serve students from all backgrounds and provide them with a quality education at an affordable price – and that spending more money and excluding more students are not necessarily signs of quality. We’re seeing important signs of progress. Some States and colleges are taking bold steps toward lowering costs and improving outcomes. And in addition to a higher-than-ever high school graduation rate, more Americans are completing degrees than ever before, including more Latino and African-American students.
Building on this momentum, consistent with the objectives laid out by the President, it is critical to ensure that we are doing all we can to:
- Help families choose a college that works for them – and that they can afford – and create a user-friendly tool that supports that selection and comparison process
- Increase transparency and make information about schools’ outcomes free and useful
- Improve our measurements of college outcomes so that students and taxpayers get the most for their investment
- Engage students, parents, higher education leaders, researchers, experts, counselors and advocates about how best to meet these objectives
We are pleased to report that we are making progress toward those goals. And as part of this update, as we have over the course of the last two years, we want to share some of what we have heard as we have continued working on this project:
- Students of all backgrounds, but especially lower-income students and those who counsel them, are eager for additional information that will help them make smart choices among their college options, and they would welcome the federal government lending its credibility and resources to this effort.
- Colleges have many missions and serve many different kinds of students. Developing meaningful ways to evaluate them through a rating system is an extremely complex and iterative process that appropriately takes time and thoughtfulness.
- While no single measure is perfect, and many important elements of education cannot be captured by quantitative metrics, cultivating and releasing data about performance drives the conversation forward to make sure colleges are focused on access, affordability and students’ outcomes.
Taking into account that feedback, and to advance the overarching goals set by the President, later this summer we plan to release new, easy-to-use tools that will provide students with more data than ever before to compare college costs and outcomes. This college ratings tool will take a more consumer-driven approach than some have expected, providing information to help students to reach their own conclusions about a college’s value. And as part of this release, we will also provide open data to researchers, institutions and the higher education community to help others benchmark institutional performance.
Through our research and our conversations with the field, we have found that the needs of students are very diverse and the criteria they use to choose a college vary widely. By providing a wealth of data – including many important metrics that have not been published before – students and families can make informed comparisons and choices based on the criteria most important to them. With assistance from the creative U.S. Digital Services team, we are using feedback from students, parents, college advisors and high school guidance counselors to examine how we can make critical information about college cost and outcomes relevant and useful to guide decisions about college search and selection.
At the same time, we will continue our efforts to identify colleges providing the best value and encourage all colleges to improve. We will share this new data and methodological considerations with institutions, researchers, app developers and other interested players to jumpstart and accelerate efforts across the country to develop meaningful metrics for accountability, and – as the President asked – we will continue to improve these measurements and find ways to make sure that student aid investments are directed to colleges that provide meaningful opportunities and deliver a quality, affordable education for their students.
We are looking forward to unveiling the new tools later this summer, and continuing to work with the community to make sure that we all are helping to make affordable, high-quality higher education a reality for everyone.
Jamienne Studley is the Deputy Under Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education.
The University of Mississippi is striving to shift from its Confederate past. Many colleges want to do the same, but the task can be difficult.