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The president unveiled a "Fafsa Completion Initiative" on Friday as part of the administration’s drive to get more young people to go to college.
Some 130 people from 30 institutions lobbied members of Congress on "Hill Day." A big concern was how the gainful-employment rule would affect students and programs.
Recent controversies over faculty speech have led the storied institution’s leaders to make a formal change.
The program allows students to fuse computer science and the humanities. The major will be offered starting this fall.
Throughout the country, there is a tremendous unmet need for high-quality early learning. Fewer than three in ten 4-year-olds are enrolled in high-quality preschool programs, and yet, the importance of early learning is clear. Studies prove that children who have rich early learning experiences are better prepared to thrive in kindergarten and beyond.
In a recent speech during the National Governors Association’s winter meeting, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that we have reached an important turning point in the debate over early learning. “Demographic, economic, and ideological forces are all combining today to propel a big expansion of high-quality early learning,” Duncan said. “We just need Congress to catch up with the rest of the country.”
In his speech, Duncan provided ten reasons why states and the country will see a dramatic expansion of high-quality early learning over the coming few years:
10. There is much greater public awareness today of the importance of the early years to the long-term health, learning, and success of our children and our communities–and it is coupled with widespread public support for a big expansion of early learning.
9. A powerful, bipartisan coalition of governors are funding expansions in the states—in some cases, big expansions—of high-quality early learning programs.
8. There is a remarkably diverse and robust coalition of law enforcement officials, military leaders, clergy, CEOs, unions, parents, and others that strongly support expanding high-quality early learning opportunities.
7. The old arguments that states should have no role in providing low- and moderate-income families with voluntary access to early learning and child care have lost force.
6. There is a growing recognition that quality matters tremendously when it comes to early learning.
5. For the first time, a majority of the states are now assessing the school readiness of children when they enter kindergarten.
4. The enactment of third grade reading laws in many of your states is going to propel an expansion of high-quality early learning.
3. America is way behind high-performing countries in our provision of early learning–and there is a growing awareness that high-quality early learning is critical to sustaining our international economic competitiveness.
2. America is currently in the midst of an unprecedented wave of innovation and capacity-building when it comes to early learning–and a new federal-state partnership helped unleash this wave of innovation.
1. The enormous unmet need and demand for high-quality early learning.
Cameron Brenchley is director of digital strategy at the U.S. Department of Education
Will the changes announced on Wednesday make the test better? College counselors and admissions officials are taking a wait-and-see approach.
Students still weigh academic reputation and job prospects most, but they’re also becoming "savvier shoppers."
The university has been accused of withholding key documents from an inquiry into allegations that its chief of cardiac surgery experimented on unsuspecting patients.
The country’s key databases are outdated and unable to help students, colleges, and policy makers answer pressing questions. A new paper suggests reforms.
The redesigned test, scheduled to be rolled out in 2016, will contain "relevant" vocabulary words and focus on fewer math topics. And the essay will be optional.
The president seeks funds to reward states and colleges, raise the maximum Pell Grant, and expand an income-based student-loan repayment option.
Key agencies that support university research would see increases below the expected inflation rate.
Nonprofit groups criticized the proposal, one of several efforts to generate tax revenue.
Money for the agencies would remain flat, but the Institute of Museum and Library Services would see a slight drop.
Cross-posted from the OII blog.
The arts are an important part of a well-rounded education for all students. Arts-rich schools, those with high-quality arts programs and comprehensive course offerings, benefit students in and outside of the art or dance studio, music room, or stage. “All children deserve arts-rich schools,” Secretary Duncan told an audience of arts education advocates in 2012, as he discussed the disappointing results of an ED survey that showed many students lacking adequate access to arts education.
There’s no better time to echo the secretary’s pronouncement than in March, widely known as “Arts in the Schools Month.” Under the leadership of national associations representing teachers of dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts, a variety of activities unfold throughout the month — some that showcase the achievements of students and others that focus on the professional growth of arts educators committed to achieving the goal of arts-rich schools for all students.
Music with a message
What began as a single, one-day event in one state 40 years ago is now Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM). This year’s theme, “Music Makes Me ______,” invites students to complete that thought on social media with the hashtag #MIOSM2014. Check out the MIOSM website for a number of ways to get in harmony with the celebration, including the Concert for Music In Our Schools Month, featuring videos of school music groups nationwide performing.
To begin the month, the Music In Our Schools Tour, featuring Danielle Bradbery, the Season 4 winner of The Voice, will recognize five schools, stretching from Albuquerque, N.M., to Charlotte, N.C., for excellence in music education and the support of their communities. Sponsored by Give a Note Foundation, a part of the National Association for Music Education, and Disney Performing Arts, the tour begins on March 2 at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., and concludes March 8 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., where Bradbery will perform at Festival Disney, a national competitive music festival where top school bands, instrumental and vocal ensembles compete with other schools from across the country.
Bradbery learned the value of persistence and hard work through music education and wants to share that along with her songs and vocal talent with other students on the tour. “This is a great way to reach kids my age and show them that the skills they learn in music can help them to be successful in life,” she said. Click here to follow the tour and see photos.
Honoring artistic achievements and creativity
For students of dance, March is when the National Dance Education Organization celebrates the artistic and academic achievements of exceptional students through the National Honor Society for Dance Arts (NAHSDA), which recognizes students who display outstanding artistic merit, leadership, and academic achievement in studying dance. Students who are members of NHSDA have an opportunity to be nominated for one of the highest honor programs for dance in the U.S., the NDEO Artistic Merit, Leadership, and Academic Achievement Award.
Youth Art Month (YAM) focuses on the value of visual art and art education for all children, with the theme of “Start With Art, Learn for Life.” State affiliates of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) help with support of YAM programs throughout the month, and NAEA members locally sponsor art exhibits and other activities to direct attention to benefits of visual arts learning and to increase community understanding and support of their schools’ arts education programs. NAEA state affiliates also participate in the annual YAM flag design program. Each state selects a student-designed flag that becomes part of an awards ceremony at the NAEA national conference and a gallery of student art from across the country, the Youth Art Month Museum, located in the exhibit hall of the conference.
Putting a focus on professional growth
Like all academic areas, students of the arts are successful because of teachers who are highly skilled, knowledgeable of developments in their fields, and motivated. For theatre and visual art educators especially, March is a time to gain new insights and up their game through professional development.
The American Alliance for Theatre Education (AATE) facilitates 13 Regional Mini-Conferences, beginning on March 1 in North Carolina, and concluding on March 29 in New Jersey, Texas, and Washington State. The gatherings offer educators, along with artists and scholars, opportunities to network, exchange ideas, and learn new curriculum and instructional strategies from one another and professional development experts.
Student art works on display at the 2013 National Art Education Association (NAEA) conference from NAEA state affiliates’ Youth Art Month celebrations. (Photo courtesy of the National Art Education Association)
At the end of the month, more than 6,000 NAEA members from throughout the U.S. and representing more than 30 other countries gather for SPARK! — the association’s annual conference. As the title suggests, this year’s conference explores ways to fuse innovative teaching in the visual arts with emerging technologies. Conferees select from more than 1,000 participatory workshops, panels, and seminars and learn from world-acclaimed educators, artists, researchers, and scholars.
It’s your turn to get involved
Arts-rich schools benefit everyone. Research increasingly shows that arts education heightens engagement for all students and can increase motivation and persistence for those most at risk of failing or dropping out of school. Learning in the arts also uniquely equips students with the skills in creativity and divergent thinking as well as problem-solving and teamwork that they need to be college and career ready. The Arts Education Partnership, with support from ED and the National Endowment for the Arts, has publications and a research clearinghouse, ArtsEdSearch, to help you learn more about why the arts in our schools are worth honoring for a month.
Take advantage of Arts in Schools Month to learn more about arts education, connect with teachers of the arts to show support for their efforts, and do what you can to help achieve the goal of arts-rich schools for all students.
Doug Herbert is a special assistant in the Office of Innovation and Improvement and editor of the OII home page.
President Obama’s 2015 budget request reflects his belief not only that education is a top priority, but that America’s public schools offer the clearest path to the middle class. Investing in education now will make us more competitive in the global economy tomorrow, and will help ensure equity of opportunity for every child.
The administration’s request for about $69 billion in discretionary appropriations represents an increase of nearly 2 percent over the previous year and slightly more than the 2012 discretionary level for education before the sequester.
Three-quarters of that $69 billion goes to financial aid to students in college, special education, and high-poverty schools (Title I). The remaining 23 percent targets specific areas designed to leverage major changes in the educational opportunity and excellence for all students, including expansion of access to high-quality preschool, data-driven instruction based on college- and career-ready standards, making college more affordable, and mitigating the effects of poverty on educational outcomes.
Education priorities for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015:
Increasing Equity and Opportunity for All Students
Despite major progress for America’s students, deep gaps of opportunity and achievement endure. The Obama administration is committed to driving new energy to solving those problems. Nearly every element of the federal education budget aims to ensure equity of opportunity, and a new proposed fund, Race to the Top-Equity and Opportunity would complement existing efforts by further supporting strong state and local efforts to improve equity.
Making Quality Preschool Available for All 4-Year-Olds
In one of the boldest efforts to expand educational opportunity in the last 50 years, President Obama has committed to a historic new investment in preschool education that supports universal access to high-quality preschool for all 4-year olds from low- and moderate-income families and creates an incentive for states to serve additional middle-class children.
Strengthening Support for Teachers and School Leaders
All educators should have the resources and support they need to provide effective instruction and to personalize learning to students’ needs. Technology can help teachers do this. Teachers and school leaders must know how to make the best use of technology. The new ConnectEDucators proposal would provide funding to help educators leverage technology and data to provide high-quality college- and career-ready instruction that meets the needs of all students.
Improving Affordability, Quality, and Success in Postsecondary Education
Improving college access and completion is an economic necessity and a moral imperative. Few good career options exist for those whose education ends with high school. College has long represented the surest route to the middle class—but the middle class is increasingly being priced out of college. America once ranked first in the college completion rate of its young people; we now rank twelfth. Reclaiming the top spot in college completion is essential for maximizing both individual opportunity and our economic prosperity, which is why the President has made increasing college affordability and improving college completion a major focus of his 2015 budget.
Making Schools Safer and Creating Positive Learning Environments
The President’s plan to increase school safety and to decrease gun violence includes investments not only to prepare schools for emergencies, but also to create positive school climates and help children recover from the effects of living in communities plagued by persistent violence.
Learn more about the fiscal year 2015 budget request.
Cameron Brenchley is director of digital strategy at the U.S. Department of Education
Cross-posted from the White House Blog.
Back in November, we asked K-12 students across the country to create short films on the role that technology plays in their classrooms. We asked them to tell us why technology is so important, and how it will change the educational experience for kids in the future.
And they responded with nearly 3,000 films.
Today, in collaboration with the American Film Institute, we hosted more than a dozen of the young filmmakers at the first-ever White House Student Film Festival, where we presented our 16 official selections. Special guests included Kal Penn, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, along with Conan O’Brien who addressed the students by video.
To kick things off, President Obama addressed the attendees and told the young filmmakers how great their movies were:
[I]n my official capacity as President, let me just say these movies are awesome. Like all great movies, yours do something special — they tell a story. They help us understand, in this case, the amazing things that are going on in classrooms and how technology is empowering our students and broadening their imaginations and challenging them to dream bigger and reach further.
The President also talked briefly about his ConnectED initiative, which aims to connect 99 percent of America’s students to next-generation, high-speed Internet over the next five years. He announced $400 million in new commitments from Adobe and Prezi to make free software available to teachers and students, helping introduce creative learning materials to America’s classrooms. Coupled with the $750 million in commitments that the President announced earlier this month, private-sector leaders have pledged – in February alone – to invest more than $1 billion in America’s students.
If you missed the livestream of the event, don’t worry – the film festival’s official selections, as well as the videos that received honorable mentions, are below for your viewing pleasure: