ED Reading Institute July 19-21

The 2010 U.S. Department of Education Reading Institute will be held from July 19 to 21 in Anaheim, CA.

Registration is free, and the institute is open to all who work in the area of literacy instruction.  If the U.S. Department of Education grant you work on permits use of federal funds for professional development, you may wish to consider using those funds to attend this institute. Please consult with Department program staff to determine whether you may use such funds to support your participation in the 2010 Reading Institute.

This year, there will also be seven sessions with online access to allow remote participation; registration is now open for these featured sessions.  In addition, the National Title I Association has collected references and prepared abstracts based on information suggested by Institute presenters.  Participants in the Early Learning and Development strand are encouraged to review this information before the conference.

For more information and registration, please see http://www.mikogroup.com/2010readinginstitute.

Featured Sessions with Online Access at the 2010 Reading Institute: Early Learning and Development Strand

Secretary Arne Duncan Kicks Off Let’s Read. Let’s Move.

Secretary Arne Duncan Kicks Off Let’s Read. Let’s Move.On Tuesday, June 29, Secretary Arne Duncan and his wife, Karen Duncan, kicked off the Department of Education’s summer enrichment series, “Let’s Read. Let’s Move.” on the outdoor plaza of the Lyndon Baines Johnson headquarters building with book readings, writing and arts activities, healthy snacks, and games. Children in pre-kindergarten through third grade from various local schools and the Prince George’s County Judy Center and Head Start programs received free, new books and a lunch tote to take home and enjoy as part of the session.

The Department launched “Let’s Read. Let’s Move.” to combat summer learning loss and physical inactivity that commonly occur during the school break. Secretary Duncan noted, “We know that for far too many children, reading achievement stalls when schoolwork stops during the summer. In fact, most low-income children can lose more than two months of reading skills progress during the summer.” Additionally, research shows that the problem of obesity threatens the healthy future of one-third of all American children. According to some studies, children can gain weight three times faster during the summer months, which is often equal to the amount of weight they would typically gain over the course of an entire school year.

Through activities designed to promote reading and academic achievement, healthy lifestyles and physical fitness, as well as general enrichment, “Let’s Read. Let’s Move.” aims to increase awareness about the critical importance of summer learning and highlight the tenets of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” national campaign to combat childhood obesity.

During six sessions held weekly at the Department of Education between June 29 and August 3, Secretary Duncan, Cabinet members, Administration officials, and other public figures will be invited to read books, promote healthy lifestyles, and participate in games and fitness activities with children. The series is a direct response to President Barack Obama’s national volunteer campaign, “United We Serve,” which challenges all Americans to engage in sustained, meaningful service activities in their communities this summer. The Department is working together with the Corporation for National and Community Service on this initiative. The books, refreshments, games, and fitness equipment for “Let’s Read. Let’s Move.” have been donated by Target Corporation, which is one of the organizations answering President Obama’s call to service.
Look for the next session on Wednesday, July 7 at noon.

Tiffany Taber
Office of Communications and Outreach

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Listening and Learning About Early Learning Tour Announced for DC, Denver, Orlando, and Chicago

Over the next two months, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) will hold a series of Listening and Learning About Early Learning meetings.

The meetings will focus on topics related to early learning (birth through 3rd Grade): Understanding Preschool – Grade 3 Structures, Workforce and Professional Development, Family Engagement, and Standards and Assessments.

The meetings will be led by Secretary Duncan’s senior advisor on early learning, Jacqueline Jones, and HHS’s Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development at the Administration for Children and Families, Joan Lombardi.  The meetings will help inform the work of ED and HHS around early learning.

The meetings will occur from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m on the dates and at the locations that follow.

  • Understanding Preschool – Grade 3 Structures: Friday, April 23, 2010, at the LBJ Auditorium at the Department’s headquarter building in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Building, 400 Maryland Ave. S.W., Washington, D.C.
  • Workforce and Professional Development: Monday, April 26, 2010, in the auditorium at the Center for Early Education, 3245 E. Exposition Avenue, Denver, CO
  • Family Engagement: Tuesday, May 4, 2010, at the Orange County Public Schools Educational Leadership Center, 445 W. Amelia Street, Orlando, FL
  • Standards and Assessments: Tuesday, May 11, 2010, at the Polk Bros. Lecture Hall at the Erikson Institute, 451 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL

We anticipate that each meeting will include three components:

1) Opening statements by officials from ED and HHS

2) Input from invited panels of experts

3) Open opportunity for public speakers to share input

  • Each individual registered and scheduled to speak will have up to 5 minutes to provide oral input on the topic of the specific meeting at which they speaking.
  • There will be a time for questions and written submissions will be accepted.

Registration: To attend or speak at a meeting, you must register at http://www.fsaregistration.ed.gov/profile/web/index.cfm?PKWebId=0x91942aeb2&varPage=agenda.  Please register at least 4 business days prior to each meeting you plan to attend.  Seating and speaker slots are limited, so registering early is important.  If you want to speak at a meeting, please come to the meeting prepared to provide an electronic copy of your comments (e.g., CD or flashdrive).  We are committed to gathering and sharing publicly the input from the meetings and written submissions.  We will share any updates and written input that we receive from members of the public at www.ed.gov.

Webinar Attendance for April 23, 2010 – The first meeting (April 23) will be offered also as a webinar.  Anyone may listen to the meeting and watch the slide presentations live may do so by going to http://www.fsaregistration.ed.gov/profile/web/index.cfm?PKWebId=0x91942aeb2&varPage=agenda and registering as a webinar attendee. Webinar attendees will be in “listen” mode only.

Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities: Meeting sites will be accessible to individuals with disabilities and will have sign language interpreters for anyone wishing to attend or speak who requests them at least five days prior to each meeting they plan to attend.  Attendees who need a sign language interpreter or any other special accommodation must indicate so in the “special accommodations” portion of the registration form.  Attendees requiring an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the meeting (i.e., interpreting service such as oral, cued speech, or tactile interpreter; assisted listening device; or materials in alternate format) should notify the contact person listed under “For Further Information Contact” at least two weeks before the scheduled meeting date.  Although we will attempt to meet a request we receive after this date, unless we receive two week’s notice, we may not be able to make available the requested auxiliary aid or service because of insufficient time. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

Submission of Written Input: ED must receive all written submissions of comments on the four early learning topics on or before 5:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, on Tuesday, May 18, 2010.  For those planning to submit written input, we encourage submissions by e-mail using the following address:  earlylearning.comments@ed.gov.  Submissions must include “Listening and Learning about Early Learning” and the topic area(s) to be addressed in the subject line of the e-mail.  Those who prefer to send their input by regular mail, must address it to the Office of the Secretary, Attention:  Listening and Learning about Early Learning – Public Input Meetings, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 7W219, Washington, DC 20202.  When submitting input at the meetings, we request that you submit one paper copy and an electronic file (CD or flashdrive) of your statement.  Please include your name and contact information on the paper and electronic files.

For Further Information: Katy Chapman, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Room 7W219, Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (202) 453-7275 or by e-mail: earlylearning.comments@ed.gov.

We look forward to seeing you on the tour!

Steven Hicks
Special Assistant on Early Learning

Detroit Community Rallies Around School Improvement Efforts

Courtesy of United Way of Southeastern Michigan and Rogers Wm. Foster.

Courtesy of United Way of Southeastern Michigan and Rogers Wm. Foster.

More than 250 community leaders, government officials, educators, parents and students discussed turning around the Detroit area’s lowest-achieving schools with Director of Community Outreach Alberto Retana at two local summits Feb. 24, hosted by United Way of Southeastern Michigan’s Greater Detroit Education Venture Fund.

The visits were part of Retana’s community engagement tour throughout the U.S. to strengthen grassroots support for transforming America’s lowest-performing schools, and to inform communities about Title I School Improvement grant funding available for those efforts.

This spring, ED will award states a total of $3.5 billion in Title I School Improvement grants to turn around their lowest-performing schools. The funds will be awarded by formula to states, which will then make competitive grants to local education agencies (LEAs). Michigan is eligible to receive $135.9 million to turn around its lowest-performing schools.

Retana said that strong community support is required to ensure success of school transformation efforts.

“It’s not enough to have funding, it’s not enough to have charismatic leaders, and this is not just about opening another charter school,” Retana said to the morning session’s crowd at Detroit’s Cody Academies. “It’s also about community mobilization. We need a movement of people to stand up and say, ‘we will no longer accept low expectations for our children.’”

Retana also brought a similar message to Melvindale High School in suburban Detroit. Both Cody Academies and Melvindale High School are undergoing turnaround efforts supported by funding through the Greater Detroit Education Venture Fund. Both sessions also included panel discussions with educators and students that generated dialogue about what is and isn’t working with their respective transformations.

After the summits, Retana talked with Detroit Public Television about the importance of turning around low-performing schools, successes and challenges, and federal resources available to help.  Watch the interview.

Helping America Become a Grad Nation

10-043 POTUS and AD at America's Promise Grad Nation Event 3

President Obama and Secretary Duncan joined General Colin Powell for the announcement of “Grad Nation” — a 10-year campaign to mobilize America to reverse the dropout crisis and help our children be prepared for success in college, work and life.

Goals of the campaign:

  • Ensure that 90% of today’s 4th graders graduate from high school on time.
  • Help fulfill the President’s goal to be the world’s leader in the proportion of college graduates by 2020.

Find out more at the America’s Promise Alliance website.   Read General Powell’s blog post on the White House website.

Read the transcript of the video below.

Rural Community College Day

Rural community colleges are key to achieving President Obama’s goal for America to have the highest proportion of students graduating from college in the world by 2020.

On Feb. 24, “Rural Community College Day,” officials from the U.S. Department of Education joined with the Rural Community College Alliance to discuss challenges and opportunities to increase college graduation and career training.

Administrators from community colleges and universities from across the country met with Under Secretary Martha Kanter, Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education Brenda Dann-Messier, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges Frank Chong, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Career and Technical Education Glenn Cummings.

ED staff briefed participants on a range of topics, including:

Participants talked about challenges and opportunities facing rural community colleges and said that Pell Grants are the most important human capital development tool for rural communities.

Under President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget, the maximum Pell Grant increases by $160 to $5,710 and would automatically rise by rate of inflation plus 1 percentage point annually over the next decade. It also includes the $10.6 billion American Graduation Initiative to improve and modernize community colleges, and a $3.5 billion College Access and Completion Fund.

The meeting came on the heels of last year’s Listening and Learning Tour, which took Secretary Duncan and ED officials to all 50 states, including rural community colleges and small rural public schools, to listen to students, families, educators, and rural community leaders.

John White
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach
Office of Communications and Outreach

Attorney Lays Down the Law to Teach

Greg Walsh

Greg Walsh

The Virginia high school teacher who recently handed over his chalk to Secretary Duncan for a guest lecture on the federal education budget started his career not in a classroom but in a courtroom.

Up until six years ago, Greg Walsh was a lawyer. He had begun his career in Washington, DC, as a civil litigation attorney, later working his way up through the leadership of a DC-based trade association. Approaching age 50, Walsh decided to pursue what he now describes as “a different kind of excitement.”

When he arrived at Falls Church High School in 2003, Walsh was assigned to teach world history to 9th graders. Within a year the social studies department shifted him to teaching AP government and politics, along with an elective course of his own making – “Law in Action.” In 2009 the Center for Civic Education recognized Walsh as one of three winners of its annual American Civics Education Teacher Award.

Walsh suggests that litigators are, by nature, educators; both professions are an art of organization and presentation. He notes, “I’m using the same set of skills, basically, but with much more forgiving clientele.” His enthusiasm for teaching, merged with the experiences of his prior career, makes for fascinated students and one of the livelier classrooms in all of northern Virginia. After hours, Walsh sponsors the school’s Model United Nations club and coaches Falls Church’s mock trial team.

The United States can expect to lose a third of our veteran educators over the next four years. As legions of Baby Boomers settle into retirement, schools across the country will seek to recruit new waves of able teachers. While Secretary Duncan hopes to inspire our young people to continue to answer the call to work in America’s classrooms, he is also looking to attract experience and enthusiasm of all ages, from all sorts of professional backgrounds.

Work history isn’t Walsh’s only advantage in the classroom, he notes:

There are a lot of teachers who, like myself, are career switchers. While we may lack the immediacy of life experiences that younger teachers share with students, many of us bring a more refined work ethic, realistic expectations, and a host of career and personal experiences directly related to the material that we teach.  …  More significantly, many “older” teachers at the primary and secondary levels have raised families, or may be raising children of the same age that we teach. In many cases, that experience sensitizes us to personal, social, or family crises underlying a student’s poor academic performance. Often, age and experience can give a teacher more cachet in dealing with parents and getting a student started on a new path.

While Walsh fondly recalls his days as a trial attorney in the nation’s capital, he says he has never regretted his decision to teach kids for a living instead. He encourages other ex-professionals to commit themselves to a classroom but offers this advice for those considering the switch.

  1. Experience teaching to make certain that you’re suited for it. Volunteer for substitute teaching assignments (preferably long-term ones) at the level you would be teaching. Observe teachers and students in a variety of schools. Spend some time crafting interesting lesson plans, assessments, and rubrics that meet curriculum standards and are sensitive to the learning needs of different students.
  2. For yourself and your students, teach in a subject area that you’re absolutely passionate about. Students want relevant knowledge and will engage with a teacher who credibly conveys the importance and appeal of his/her subject.
  3. Don’t teach if you’re fleeing from the oppression of an earlier career. Only teach if you’re fleeing to teaching. Like any profession, teaching has its disadvantages, and a high turnover rate among young teachers proves the point. Come to the job with a positive, but realistic, attitude, and if you can bring your old career along with you, so much the better.

Don’t expect that Walsh’s job will be one of those teaching positions opening up anytime soon. “I’m only 53 years old, just getting started in this profession,” he said, “and assume that I’ll be good for at least 17 more years!”

Justin Charity
Office of Communications and Outreach

Town Hall for Students on December 15

Two months ago, Secretary Arne Duncan accompanied President Obama to Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va., when the President made his nationally televised Back to School speech and challenged students to work hard and graduate. This month, Duncan will have a chance to check in on Wakefield students and find out how they are responding to the President’s challenge, as they gather for a national town hall for students.

Duncan will host the town hall in a special edition of the Department of Education’s television program, Education News Parents Can Use, live from Public Broadcasting System station WETA on Tuesday, December 15, at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. Throughout the hour-long event, he will take comments and questions from the students in the studio audience and around the nation via telephone, email, and video. The show will also feature an update on the Department’s “I Am What I Learn” student video contest.

Details about the special town hall for students on Education News are at www.ed.gov/edtv.

Students can contribute to the conversation right now by submitting a question or posting answers to one or more of the questions below. We’ll feature as many responses as we can on the December 15 program. Students may also call the show during the live broadcast at 1-888-493-9382, between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

Here are the questions:

• How can students assume responsibility for their own education?

• How can we do a better job of preparing students for college and careers?

• How can we encourage more students to become involved in community service and civic life?

• Who and what are the most important influences on today’s young people?

ED Staff

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Commerce Secretary Locke Participate in Read to the Top! Event

U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke joined Secretary Arne Duncan for an afternoon of reading and learning this week as part of the Department of Education’s summer literacy series, “Read to the Top!”


Click here for an accessible version of the video.

Donovan read “The Curious Garden” by Peter Brown and Locke read “Those Shoes” by Maribeth Boeltz to a group of children from the Georgetown Hill HHS/ED Children’s Center, the Dorothy I. Height Community Academy Public Charter School, and Amidon-Bowen Elementary School.

As part of the event, the National Center for Summer Learning presented Secretary Duncan with a 2009 Champion of Summer Learning award for supporting summer learning and encouraging school districts and states to use American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars to educate children over the summer.

Tuesday’s session marked the final event held at the Department of Education. Since late June, weekly “Read to the Top!” events have enabled children from across the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to enjoy books in a unique outdoor setting on the department’s plaza.

Later this week, “Read to the Top!” will go on the road, heading to Mount Vernon Community School in Alexandria, Va., which will culminate the summer series. There, Secretary Duncan will read to elementary-school-aged children, along with U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Lisa Jackson.

ED Staff

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Duncan, Sebelius Unveil Recommendations for Schools on How Learning Continues in Case of Flu Outbreak

Secretary Arne Duncan joined Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, and D.C. Chancellor of Public Schools Michelle Rhee to welcome students back to school at D.C.’s newly renovated H.D. Cooke Elementary School, where they announced recommendations for educators on how learning can continue in the event of student absences due to seasonal and novel H1N1 Flu.


Click here for an accessible version of the video.

The recommendations, developed by ED, are designed to help education stakeholders start planning and acting now for the impact that seasonal and 2009 H1N1 influenza could have this fall and winter on schools and the learning process.

Find the recommendations, Q&A for schools, and additional flu information by going to the press release or the ED flu page.

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Race to the Top Begins

Today the Obama Administration is beginning the “Race to the Top” to reform our schools.

Thanks to the work of the president and Congress, we have $4.35 billion of from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the “Race to the Top” fund to invest in school reforms that work. Today, we’re telling states what they have to do to win the competition for that money.

But the president and I want to send a message to everyone: governors and mayors, school board members and teachers, parents and students; businesses and non-profits. We all need to work together to win this race so that our students can outcompete any worker in the world.

To win the race, states have to have standards and tests that prepare students to succeed in college and careers. They’ll need to recruit and reward excellent teachers and principals. They must have data systems to track students’ progress and to identify effective teachers. They must identify their lowest-performing schools and take dramatic action to turn them around.

In addition to the “Race to the Top” competition, the administration has another $5 billion available to targeted efforts to reform schools.

We have the resources at the federal level to drive reform. Now all of us need to take this challenge on and work together to reform our schools.

Arne Duncan

Note: President Obama joins Secretary Duncan today to announce the draft application for Race to the Top and information about other Recovery Act education programs. Watch the webcast live, beginning at 12:15 pm ET. See also…
– President Obama’s interview with the Washington Post
– Secretary Duncan’s op-ed, “Education Reform’s Moon Shot
– an Education Week article on Race to the Top
– a media advisory on today’s event.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary Arne Duncan Read to Students

Last week U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack joined Secretary Arne Duncan to read to students from Campbell Elementary Summer School in Arlington, Va., and preschoolers who attend the Georgetown Hill Health and Human Services/Department of Education children’s center.


Click here for an accessible version of the video.

This event was part of “Read to the Top!”—the Department’s summer reading initiative—which is partnering with community organizations nationwide to combat summer reading loss as part of President Obama’s “United We Serve” national volunteer campaign.
ED Staff