Higher Education News
The bell rings and they can’t wait. After a long day in the classroom, kids of all ages race to open fields on the other side of the school parking lot. That’s the goal, anyway. But for many kids, daily opportunities for fitness are a far cry from reality.
Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say school-age children should be physically active at least one hour a day. Most 9- to 13-year-olds do get their daily dose of physical activity, with more than three-quarters exercising throughout the week. But that percentage significantly declines as children grow older. In 2013, less than a third of high school students met the one-hour mark or attended physical education classes during an average school week. As children become more sedentary, their risk grows for developing chronic health problems down the road. The problem is especially acute for children from low-income families.
How do we make sure every young person — no matter where they live or their family’s income — has the opportunity to be active and healthy every day? We believe schools are an important part of the answer. Simply put: children go to school five days a week, so schools are in a unique position to help kids exercise regularly. Plus, physical activity helps kids concentrate on classroom tasks and improve their standardized test scores. That means schools have a vested interest in keeping kids active so they’ll do better academically.
Unfortunately, many school districts lack the resources to offer robust physical education programs. There are lots of reasons schools have had to cut back on physical education classes and recess: not enough funding, few safe spaces to play, the need for more classroom time to make sure every child is given educational opportunity. The number of things schools have to accomplish every day is enormous.
And that’s where the U.S. Soccer Foundation comes in.
Recently leaders from our organization met with staff at the Department of Education to discuss our partnerships with schools across the country, especially in underserved communities. We offer proven youth development programs, build fields where children can play safely, and supply much-needed athletic equipment. Afterschool programs like ours not only give students a physical outlet, they also increase the effort kids put into school, keep them from skipping class, and boost their academic confidence.
An independent evaluation of our Soccer for Success afterschool program found that 89 percent of children who started the program overweight or obese left it with improved or maintained aerobic capacity. When it came to school, 89 percent of students said they tried harder as a result of the program, and 85 percent said they tried harder to avoid violence and fighting.
We love talking to teachers about how our programs turn their students around. To enhance our children’s academic performance and help them feel more engaged in the classroom, we as a community have to do more to bring physical activity and academia together. We look forward to hearing from schools and educators about your vision for ensuring that every young person has the chance to live a full and healthy life.
Wylie Chen is Vice President of Programs and Grants at the U.S. Soccer Foundation.
Moving away from campus?
Changing your cell phone number or e-mail address?
Make sure you let your loan servicer know. Their services are provided free of charge, but they can only help you if they can reach you.Mistake #2: Paying for student loan help
You may have seen an ad on Facebook, or gotten phone calls or letters from companies offering to help you lower your payment or apply for loan forgiveness for a fee. If someone asks you to pay for these services, you are not dealing with the U.S. Department of Education or our loan servicers.
We don’t charge application or maintenance fees. If you’re asked to pay, walk away (or hang up).
Contact your loan servicer for free student loan help.Mistake #3: Choosing the wrong repayment plan (or not choosing a repayment plan)
Your repayment plan determines your monthly student loan payment and how long it will take you to pay your loans back.
We offer several repayment plans, but your choice really comes down to what your goal is: to pay off your loan quickly or to have a low monthly payment. The 10-year standard plan will allow you to pay off your loan quickly and save you money in interest. An income-driven plan will allow you to have low monthly payments, but you will be in repayment for longer and pay more interest. If you take no action, you’ll automatically be placed on the 10-year plan.
The best way to compare your options is to use our repayment calculator.
TIP: Seeking Public Service Loan Forgiveness? You need to choose an income-driven repayment plan to benefit from the program.Mistake #4: Not consolidating your loans when you should
Took out federal student loans before 2011?
Then you probably need to consolidate your loans for better repayment options, like Public Service Loan Forgiveness or the best income-driven repayment plans. Make sure you know the pros and cons of consolidation and contact us for help deciding.Mistake #5: Not setting up automatic payments
Never miss a payment!
Sign up for automatic debit through your loan servicer, and monthly payments will automatically be made from your bank account.
And, you’ll get a 0.25% interest rate deduction when you enroll!Mistake #6: Not paying extra (when you can)
Interest on your student loan accrues every day.
An easy way to save money is to pay extra whenever you can.
You can pay off your loan faster if tell your servicer these two things:
- The extra payments should not be put toward any future payments, and to
- apply extra payments to the highest interest rate loan.
This will reduce the interest you pay, and over time, reduce the total cost of your loan.Mistake #7: Paying late or missing payments
Late or missed payments hurt your credit score and will affect your future ability to get loans for things like a car or a home.
If you miss multiple payments and go into default, your wages could be garnished and your tax refund withheld.
If you’re overwhelmed or can’t afford your next payment, contact your loan servicer as soon as possible. They can recommend options to reduce or postpone your payment and keep your loan in good standing.
The worst thing you can do it to stop paying your loan.Mistake #8: Postponing payments (without considering other options first)
There are two ways you can temporarily stop (postpone) your payments: through a deferment or forbearance.
They can be helpful solutions if you’re experiencing a temporary hardship, but they aren’t good long-term solutions because they don’t actually help you pay the loan back.
In most cases, interest on your loan continues to accrue (accumulate) even while you’re not making payments. Eventually, it may capitalize (interest accruing on interest). When you resume payments (which you‘ll have to do) your loan balance will be higher than before.
Deferment or forbearance may set you back even further, so it makes sense to consider other options.
For example, you may want to consider an income-driven repayment plan instead. Under these plans, if you’re single and make less than $1,486 per month, your monthly “payment” could be set at $0, which is technically what it would be with a deferment or forbearance. The benefit of choosing an income-driven plan over postponing payments is two-fold:
(1) Interest subsidies*, meaning if your payment doesn’t cover the interest that’s accruing on your loans, the government will cover some or all of that interest for you, and
(2) Loan forgiveness is built in to the plans, so even if you aren’t paying your loan back as quickly, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
* The government may pay the interest on certain types of loans if you choose a deferment.
If you ever need one-on-one help with your student loans, contact your loan servicer.
Your loan servicer works on behalf of the Department of Education to collect payments and answer questions about your student loans. Your loan servicer should be your go-to resource throughout the repayment process.
Their advice and assistance is always FREE! You never have to pay for help with your student loans.
Nicole Callahan is a Digital Engagement Strategist at Federal Student Aid.
So much of the strength of our communities, and our country, is derived from the promise of opportunity—the idea that if you work hard, you can make of your life what you will.
For that promise to be realized, we must be committed to providing all students—regardless of their background or circumstances—with a high-quality college- and career-ready education. As President Obama has said, this is the civil rights issue of our time.
Our new, federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), provides a powerful opportunity for educators, administrators, school leaders, parents and families, and everyone who works on behalf of our children’s future, to ensure excellence and equity in our public schools—and to reclaim the promise of a truly high- quality, well-rounded education for every student.
ESSA replaces the one-size-fits-all approach of its predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and creates a new federal-state partnership that provides greater flexibility for states and districts. And unlike NCLB, which incentivized states to lower standards, ESSA also sets the important goal for schools across our country to ensure that all students graduate prepared to thrive in college and careers.
Toward those ends, today, the U.S. Department of Education is releasing for public comment a set of proposed regulations to give states the clarity they need as they rethink their accountability and school improvement systems. This marks an important step along the path to implementing ESSA in a way that allows the law to live up to its potential as a tool for enhancing educational excellence and equity.
To get to this day and to this announcement, the Department of Education considered hundreds of comments from the public and held well over 100 meetings and events across the nation, receiving input from students, parents, educators, school leaders, state and local administrators, tribes, civil rights organizations, and business leaders.
Because of this input from people who care deeply about education, we believe today’s proposed regulations hold great promise as a tool for helping schools in every community become more equitable so all students get what they need to learn, grow, and succeed.
The Department is interested in hearing even more from stakeholders—and we look forward to receiving comments during the public comment period, beginning on Tuesday, May 31, and over the next 60 days. Consider making your voice heard. We are taking these comments very seriously, understanding that our final regulations will be stronger because of that input.
In addition to added flexibility for states, the proposed regulations offer a more holistic approach to measuring a quality education. This means that NCLB’s narrow definition of school success, which was based primarily on test scores in math and English language arts and graduation rates, will be replaced with a broader view, to include such things as student growth, college and career readiness, school climate, or students’ progress toward English language proficiency.
Importantly, the regulations also uphold ESSA’s critical civil rights protections and enhance equity for historically underserved students by including all students and each subgroup in decisions related to school support and improvement. This will help ensure that meaningful action is taken in places where whole schools or groups of students are falling behind, and that clear and transparent information on critical measures of school quality and equity are provided to parents and community members. Furthermore, the regulations help to ensure more transparency for parents, educators, and community members around resource equity measures, such as access to preschool, access to rigorous coursework, and school discipline, including requiring that this information be made public on state and local report cards.
Where NCLB prescribed top-down interventions for struggling schools, the Department’s proposed regulations provide flexibility for schools and districts to implement evidence-based, locally designed solutions to support and improve struggling schools. The regulations also reinforce ESSA’s strong commitment to transparency and define a clear role for parents, families, teachers, school leaders, and a broad range of other stakeholders in the development and implementation of state and local plans and the school improvement process; and a planning year will ensure this work is done thoughtfully.
For an at-a-glance reference guide for the ways in which these proposed regulations differ from NCLB, see below.
Today’s proposed regulations are a critical step toward realizing the potential of ESSA. Taken together, they will promote a more well-rounded, holistic education while upholding critical protections to ensure the progress of all students toward success in college and careers.
If you’re interested in learning even more, read a summary of the regulations or the full Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. For more information on ESSA implementation and resources, visit www.ed.gov/essa. Remember, your voice matters in the effort to expand opportunity to every child. We welcome your input starting on Tuesday, May 31 and over the next 60 days. The proposal we’re announcing today will require that all of us—at every level—work together to implement ESSA in a way that enlarges the potential of all our students and ensures that those who need extra supports receive them.
Tiffany Taber is Chief of Staff for Communications Development in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education
Teacher-Powered Innovation: the Value of and Opportunity for Teacher Leadership in Schools and Policy
When we do everything right in schools, our students move closer to that peak on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – self-actualization. It sounds pretty awesome. I’d like to achieve self-actualization too. But when you’re a student facing poverty, racism, family trouble, or just life as a kid growing up, that peak starts looking like K2.
The question then becomes what changes can we make in our systems so that schools can support students in meeting their basic needs while still pushing them to make academic gains that will impact their future choices and opportunities? For me, answering that question starts with the people who are with the students every day – their teachers.
As a founding teacher on the Design Team for the pilot high school, Social Justice Humanitas Academy (SJHA) in Los Angeles, last week I was invited to join a small group of teachers and principals in a Tea with Teachers meeting with Secretary of Education John King to discuss the value of teacher leadership in schools and in educational policy-making. SJHA is a Teacher-Powered School, and as such is driven by teachers and their connection to students. The school was founded by a group of teachers who envisioned a school centered on building our students’ humanity through curriculum that is rigorous and relevant to our students.
Unlike some teacher-led schools, SJHA does have a principal, but instead of directing teachers to execute a plan that too often is devised by people who are not actually inside the school, the principal teams with the teachers to develop the steps necessary to reach students where they are. For example, the math department felt students would benefit from an integrated math model rather than a traditional algebra-geometry sequence. With support of school resources, the teacher-team worked together to choose the appropriate books and now finishing its second year, the team feels the program is making a difference for kids.
When teachers are able to exercise autonomy in this way, they are also more willing to be accountable to those decisions. With this new way of thinking, we were able to build a school for the students of SJHA, not for students at 160 different schools around Los Angeles.
At the Tea, we talked about the new Every Student Succeeds Act, which gives us some more specific opportunities to involve teachers directly in decision making. It is going to take more than curriculum and instruction to get our students to reach self-actualization. Schools need the ability to be innovative and flexible in supporting their students, and ESSA certainly uses that same terminology. If necessity is the mother of invention (or innovation), then we have to look at our students’ needs for the incentive to innovate.
Again, the people most closely connected to these needs are the teachers. At SJHA, a chemistry teacher saw that students were not getting enough opportunities to attend positive social events outside of school, so he started the Events Club. They have met famous authors like Malcolm Gladwell, gone to movie screenings, and even recently went to a political rally. Our principal saw that many of our male students were struggling to find positive male role models, so he started a men’s group. Our senior class plans and runs a community resource fair every spring – an idea that was started by an English teacher. Teachers saw needs first hand and have the power and autonomy to find and implement solutions.
ESSA gives us the opportunity to move forward on building schools that are more teacher-powered, more community-focused, and thus more adaptive to student needs. Instead of pushing ideas down to classrooms, we need leaders outside of the school to support teacher-inspired and teacher-powered innovation.
Self-actualization is a personal experience; why would we not personalize the support in finding it?
Jeff Austin teaches Economics and Government, serves as the coordinator, and was on the Design Team at the Social Justice Humanitas Academy in Los Angeles. In 2014-2105, he served as a Teacher Ambassador for the Teacher Powered Schools Initiative (a joint project of Education Evolving and the Center for Teaching Quality). An NBCT, he was a 2013 Los Angeles County and LAUSD Teacher of the Year. His experience at SJHA is included in Corwin Press’s Growing Into Equity and Richard Hess’s Cage-Busting Teachers.