Secretary Duncan Seeks Youth Input During ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ Listening Session

Data shows that some Americans have fewer opportunities available to them and continue to face roadblocks to success. One of these groups is boys and young men of color — regardless of where they come from.

This is why President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative. The collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach aims to build ladders of opportunity and unlock the full potential of all youth, including boys and young men of color.

On May 12, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will host a Youth Listening Session in partnership with the My Brother’s Keeper Taskforce to get input from various youth-serving organizations, youth stakeholders, youth leaders and other young adults.

  • What: My Brother’s Keeper Taskforce Youth Listening Session hosted by Secretary Arne Duncan
  • When: 3:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Monday, May 12
  • Where: Policy Listening Session Webinar

Those unable to participate in the listening sessions should feel free to leave their feedback on the following questions in the comment section on this blog post.

On Track to College and Career

1)         The quality of education is critical for all students, but we know that too many youth, including many boys and young men of color, attend schools that are underperforming.  What would you suggest be the first issue addressed by the MBK Task Force related to improving school and educational quality?

a.         Engaging curriculum tied to real-world problem solving
b.         Professional development to improve teacher quality
c.         Access and support for students to enroll in college-level course work
d.         Increased collaboration between schools, families, and host communities
e.         New school designs such as early college high schools or career academies connected to industry partners
f)         other

Ladders to Jobs-Higher Education

2)         What do you think needs to change in order to increase the rate at which all citizens, including young men of color, persist in and graduate from postsecondary education and training?

a.         Increased levels of college and career readiness
b.         Lower college costs
c.         More financial aid
d.         Clearer guidance on applying to and selecting a college
e.         A culturally relevant educational environment
f.          Clearer, shorter pathways to a high wage career
g.         Other /Not listed

Mentoring and Support Networks

3) What do you think is most valued in a mentoring program by young people, including boys and young men of color?

Criminal Justice/Violent Crime Interaction

4)  What do you think is the predominate factor contributing to disproportionate rates of juvenile/criminal justice system involvement by

boys and young men of color?

a.         Exposure to violence
b.         Violent crime in the community
c.         Lack of exposure to and understanding of potential to obtain success
d.         Lack of education and job skill
e.         Lack of treatment services
f.          Biased law enforcement; and,
g.         Other/Not listed

Ladders to Opportunity – Jobs for Opportunity Youth

5)  Anyone who wants a job should be able to get a job that allows them to support themselves and their families.What do you think is the most important reason that some young people, including young men of color, have challenges in the job market?
a.         Insufficient education
b.         Insufficient skills for jobs in demand
c.         Inadequate connections or networks
d.         Employer stereotypes
e.         Other/Not listed

De’Rell Bonner is a special assistant and youth liaison in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education

Duncan & Mills host #GradStartup Twitter Q&A

Small Business Administrator Karen Mills made her Twitter debut yesterday as she and Secretary Arne Duncan hosted an online Q & A responding to questions about how to start a new business, the loan repayment and forgiveness plans available to student loan borrowers, and how to find resources for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Check out the entire Q&A below:

Read More

ED & SBA Host Twitter Chat: Connecting Grads to Resources to Help Them Startup

Cross-posted from

Graduation season is right around the corner and to help grads that are looking to start a small business, SBA and the U.S. Department of Education will host a Twitter Q & A Session on April 25 at 2pm EDT connecting soon-to-be grads or recent grads to resources to help them startup, succeed and create an economy built to last.

Startup logoI, along with U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, will answer your questions about starting a business and  highlight the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan, which supports young college grads that are looking to start a business, join a startup, or work in a public service job by making Federal student loan repayment manageable.  IBR helps to keep loan payments affordable by using a sliding scale to determine how much you can afford to pay on your Federal loans—empowering you to take risks with new opportunities like starting a small business.

Submit your questions now and follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #GradStartup.

What: Twitter Q&A Session: Connecting Grads to Resources to help them Startup with SBA Administrator Karen Mills and U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan

When: Wednesday, April 25 from 2:00pm–3:00pm EDT

Where: Follow the Q & A on Twitter and submit your questions now, hashtag #GradStartup

– Karen Mills

Karen Gordon Mills is the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

#RuralED Chat Addresses Partnerships and Community Resources

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach John White joined W.K. Kellogg Foundation CEO Sterling Speirn recently in a discussion on Twitter about using partnerships and other resources to address the needs of high poverty rural schools. A snapshot of the dialog is provided below. White will be hosting frequent Tweet-ups on pressing issues facing education in rural communities. Follow @RuralED on Twitter to join the conversation.

Geographic Barriers 

Read More

Busting Silos

Earlier this year the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) held a summit that brought together a group of education stakeholders who don’t typically engage with each other on a regular basis.  During the summit, researchers, practitioners, policy makers and government officials were talking together about how to help vulnerable students succeed.

KeyboardIt’s important for all four of these groups to learn and think about new initiatives as well as discuss and share current and future research and policy practices.  But, what was most striking for me about this event was the overt effort to silo-bust.

We all tend to work in silos, and with growing specialization within the disciplines inside the academy, the silos have proliferated.  Everyone’s expertise is so narrow that we tend to stay with those like us. And academia is not alone.  We have been “siloed” in business and in government, and this administration is working to silo-bust, through programs like Promise Neighborhoods, ED’s labor-management conference and International Summit on the Teaching Profession, as well as through collaborations like the “Learning Registry,” which partners with the Department of Defense.

People know the value of moving across silos – engaging with others in different disciplines and departments enriches one’s thinking; it enables cross-disciplinary/departmental/organizational problem solving; it prevents duplication of work. It permits wider buy-in, consensus and wisdom.

But, when time is short, it is much easier to remain in one’s silo, keep one’s head down and get the work done.

OPE’s summit sent a message to all of us working on student success both in and out of government: if we are going to find solutions, we are more likely to do it together than apart.

Now, the hard part is to carry that message forward after the conference has ended. What might motivate that continuity, at least for me, is the powerful impact our collaborative efforts could have on vulnerable students’ success.

Have you had success in breaking down silos? Tell us your story in the comments below.

Karen Gross is a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary

Plenty of Room at the Teachers’ Table

I’ve been a Spanish teacher for more than 30 years. All of the voices of educators I’ve known – in urban, suburban, public and private schools – sounded in my head last Wednesday as I listened to Secretary Duncan launch the RESPECT Project, a national agenda to radically transform and elevate the teaching profession. At the launch, Secretary Duncan called for a “national conversation” with America’s teachers because he believes that teachers know the best way to lead this professional transformation.

I also thought of the thousands of students I’ve taught — particularly to those whom are now teachers — and how they triumph and struggle in their own classrooms. I thought of my daughter, Melynda, an accomplished middle-school teacher in New Jersey, who goes to the classroom every day energized to give her students what they need to succeed. I thought of my husband, Joe, who teaches Ethics in an independent school and my son-in-law, Billy, the principal of a charter school. Then I thought of my son, Joe, who regales me with stories at dinner of his students who use wheelchairs, whose dreams are unbound, because each and every educator at his school believes in helping them achieve. Add to that, the voices of my colleagues and the educators I’ve spoken to around the country, through over 100 teacher roundtables run by Teaching Ambassador Fellows from the Department of Education.

What would they all think about this national conversation? Would it improve education and the bottom line for America’s students?

I know that these voices matter. What teachers do matters a lot. President Obama said it in his State of the Union and now Arne Duncan is calling on all of us to look at ways we can improve teaching and learning.  At the launch event at the U.S. Department of Education, teacher after teacher got up to ask Arne questions about what the administration was going to do to help teachers improve education, the Secretary responded that he trusts teachers to figure out the most effective ways to lead this effort in the way that best fits the local needs and contexts.

The Obama Administration’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget includes a $5 billion competitive program to reform the teaching profession. This proposal challenges us to look at how teachers can transform their own for their students and themselves. We want to examine how leadership in schools can be better distributed through new roles for teachers that tap into their talents and passion. We are eager to recruit and support great talent to the profession to replace the million teachers about to retire in the next decade.  We want to explore how to pay teachers better salaries so that they don’t have to take on extra jobs to make ends meet. And we want to sit down with states, unions, professional organizations and other reform leaders to hammer out innovative and bold plans to change the very culture of teaching so that it meets the needs of the 21st Century.

I believe that the teachers I know and love want this to happen: we are eager for it. I have heard colleagues speak at my dinner table and in the teachers’ lounges and hallways about how they are tired of teaching to the test. They want to be held accountable, but they need reasonable, helpful ways that show what students know and are able to do. They need support and time to work together in vibrant teams to make better schools. The tired model of a few weary administrators, handling all of the big picture stuff in schools is a relic of the past, an old system that isn’t serving anybody. Teachers want to be at the table, and it’s a very big table with room for everyone.

In the coming months, we’ll be reaching out to teachers throughout this nation to become a part of Project Respect. Please look for ways to join the conversation when the conversation comes to your area and send an email request to if you are interested in participating.

Maryann Woods-Murphy is a Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow who teaches Spanish in Allendale, NJ. She is also the 2009-2010 New Jersey Teacher of the Year.

Financial Aid Awareness Month: Join ED for February #AskFAFSA Office Hours

It is an especially exciting time for us here at Federal Student Aid because February is Financial Aid Awareness Month. With many state financial aid deadlines approaching, now is a great time to complete that FAFSA you’ve been putting off.

FAFSATo help answer your financial aid questions, Cathy Simoneaux (@loynofinaid), The Director of the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid at Loyola University New Orleans, will host this month’s #AskFAFSA Office Hours on Twitter. She may be off celebrating Mardi Gras now, but on February 29th at 6pm EST, you’ll have her undivided attention as she joins @FAFSA on Twitter to answer your toughest financial aid questions.

Here’s how it works:

    • Follow @FAFSA and @loynofinaid for financial aid information and tips
    • Ask your questions now and during the live event on Twitter using the hashtag #AskFAFSA.
      • Sample tweet: “How do I apply for a Pell Grant? #AskFAFSA”
    • On February 29th at 6pm EST, follow the Q&A live through the @FAFSA & @loynofinaid Twitter accounts
    • Can’t make the live session? A summary of the live chat, including the full Q&A, will be posted on the blog following the event.

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s the form to fill out in order to apply for student grants, work-study, and loans. To receive federal student aid for the 2012-13 school year, you must complete the 2012-13 FAFSA at Some financial aid is first-come, first-served, so we encourage all potential and returning students to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. Since our last #AskFAFSA Office Hours, we have launched the IRS Data Retrieval Tool which allows you to transfer your tax information directly from the IRS into your FAFSA, making the form easier than ever to complete.

We know the financial aid office can be busy at this time of year, so skip the line by joining us on Twitter, February 29th at 6pm EST. Remember, you can complete the FAFSA online today at

Federal Student Aid New Media Team

Launching Project RESPECT


Official Department of Education Photo by Leslie Williams

“Our goal is to work with educators in rebuilding their profession—and to elevate the teacher voice in shaping federal, state and local education policy,” said Secretary Duncan today at the launch of the RESPECT Project. “Our larger goal is to make teaching not only America’s most important profession—but America’s most respected profession,” he said.

The RESPECT Project (Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching), is a national conversation led by active classroom teachers working temporarily for the Department to help provide input on the administration’s 2013 budget proposal, and on the broader effort to reform teaching.

The Obama Administration’s 2013 proposed budget includes a new $5 billion competitive program that would challenge states and school districts to work with teachers, unions, colleges of education and other education stakeholders to reform the teaching profession.

“We need to redefine what it means to teach in today’s global economy,” Duncan said. “Because what you learn in school today is the foundation for what you will need to know tomorrow to be successful.”

Click here (pdf) to read more about the RESPECT Project, and sign up for our Teaching Matters newsletter for regular updates on the teaching profession and future information about the RESPECT Project.

Read Secretary Duncan’s remarks at the event.

View the archived video of today’s launch.

Visit our RESPECT Project homepage.

Budget Questions? Join Asst. Secretary Carmel Martin for #AskED Twitter Q&A


Yesterday, the Obama Administration released its 2013 budget request, which included new investments in education. The budget seeks to make college more affordable, align job training and education with the demands of the workforce, and elevate the teaching profession. Click here to find out what this means for you.

On Friday at 1 p.m. ET, join ED’s Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Carmel Martin for a Twitter Q&A on the 2013 budget.

Ask your questions at any time before or during the Twitter Q&A using the hashtag #AskED. Asst. Secretary Martin will answer your questions live through the @usedgov Twitter account. Following the event, you can find a summary of the Q&A session at

Join Arne for a Twitter Town Hall on Hispanic Education

To follow up on the President’s State of the Union Address—in which critical topics like college affordability, dropout rates, teachers, and job training were addressed—Secretary Duncan will engage with the Hispanic community through a Twitter town hall at 3:00 p.m. ET on February 8.  The conversation on Twitter will be conducted in both English and Spanish and will be moderated by José Rico, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Twitter users can ask questions in advance and during the town hall by using the hashtag #HispanicED.  The town hall will be streamed live on Arne’s Facebook Page and ED’s Ustream page.

David Terry is Deputy Director of ED’s Information Resource Center

Join the Conversation During the State of the Union

State of the Union photo

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Save the date for Tuesday January 24, at 9 pm EST, when President Obama will give his annual State of the Union address, with education being a likely topic of discussion during the speech. You can watch an enhanced version of the speech with graphics and data at

Following the speech, a panel of senior advisors, including Secretary Duncan, will answer your questions. Ask your questions on Twitter using the hashtag #WHchat & on the White House’s Facebook page.

Check back into ED’s Homeroom on Wednesday for a summary of the State of the Union, and what it could mean for education in America. Click here for more information on the State of the Union address, and click here to receive email updates of all the latest news from ED.

Join ED and Teachers for a #TeachTalk Discussion on Twitter

“Teachers make thousands of decisions a day, and they don’t do it about an abstract idea, they do it about the life of a child. You can’t imagine anything harder.”

-Brad Jupp, Senior Program Adviser on Teacher Initiatives, Office of the Secretary

On Friday, January 27, the US Department of Education will welcome over 200 teachers for a screening of the documentary, American Teacher. Narrated by Matt Damon and directed by Academy Award winner Vanessa Roth, the film chronicles the stories of four teachers living and working in different urban and rural areas of the country. It follows the teachers as they reach different milestones in their careers and provides a rich and compelling portrait of the teaching profession in America today.

Following the screening, participants will engage in a discussion regarding how we can reshape the culture of American education to better attract, retain, and support highly effective teachers. Because all of the tickets for this event were completely given away less than 48 hours from the start of registration, the Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellows have created a “virtual” outreach opportunity for teachers from across the country.

Following the screening of the film, while participants in ED’s Barnard auditorium are engaged in a live discussion, you will have the opportunity to engage with your colleagues, ED policy experts, and Washington Fellows in a Twitter discussion. We will be joined by ED’s own, John White (@RuralED), the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Rural Outreach. Participation in this virtual event is not dependent upon your having viewed the film. ED is looking for your input on education reform and ways to improve public perception of teachers so they are respected and held in high regard. How do we attract, retain and support the best teachers? To be a part of the discussion, log onto Twitter and use the hashtag #TeachTalk, starting at 7:45pm EST.

Greg Mullenholz is a Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow on loan from his school in Rockville, Md.