Talking Title IX on Twitter

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the civil rights law that ensures educational institutions that receive federal funding do not discriminate on the basis of sex. Secretary Duncan has said that Title IX is “one of the great civil rights success stories in education.” To kick off the anniversary year, Secretary Duncan and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali joined Lisa Maatz of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) for a Title IX tweetup.

Maatz and the AAUW took questions from Twitter users, and Secretary Duncan and Ali responded via Twitter. Here are just a few of the questions and answers addressed during the tweetup:

To see more of the conversation, follow Arne and the Office for Civil Rights on Twitter, and click here to see the #T9Talk discussion.

Welcome to Homeroom

All through high school my homeroom teacher was Mr. Fontana, the school’s pottery and art teacher. My most vivid memories of homeroom include Mr. Fontana’s beard and the overwhelming smell of clay. I also remember that Mr. Fontana’s homeroom was an important source of new information and resources, where my classmates and I learned about new school initiatives, received key updates from the principal, and were provided with the tools and resources to help us succeed.

We’re hoping that you find the same value in ED’s Homeroom, the new name for the Department of Education’s blog. From our Homeroom, we will continue to provide important updates from the Department, as well as new resources and announcements that could impact you at the local level. We encourage you to join the conversation in the blog’s comments and check back often to keep up to date with everything happening at ED and in schools and communities around the country.

Feel free to bookmark Homeroom, subscribe to our RSS feed and sign up here to receive an email update when new blogs are posted.

Cameron Brenchley is ED’s Director of Digital Engagement.

Arne on Thanking Teachers and College Debt

Arne sat down last week to answer a couple of questions and comments he received on his Facebook page. Ginger and Adriana wrote about thanking great teachers, and Arne encouraged others to take time and thank their teachers. “Whether you graduated last year, whether you are still in school, or whether you are 50 years out of high school,” he said, “it is never too late to go back and say thank you.”

Jamie left a comment for Arne that described the stress associated with having significant college debt. Duncan noted that on the front end the Obama administration has taken big steps in increasing Pell Grants, including doubling funding for Pell Grants within the last couple of years. For those in repayment, the Administration recently announced a pay-as-you-earn program, which could reduce loan payments by hundreds per month for those who qualify. Duncan explained that college can’t be for the wealthy only, and that while the Obama administration has made tremendous progress, “there is a lot of hard work ahead of us.”

Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.

How Can Parents and Teachers Partner to Improve Student Achievement?

Secretary Duncan often repeats the call that parents need to be in full partnership with teachers in learning and understanding, making the education of their child a shared responsibility that includes teachers, parents and students.

For teachers– whose schedules are often quite full—finding ways to engage and partner with parents can seem overwhelming. Secretary Duncan recently took to Twitter to hear directly from teachers on the most effective ways to build partnerships with families and communities. Arne received an overwhelming response from teachers across the country, and most who responded felt communication early in the year and positive communication throughout the year were beneficial ways to partner with parents, families, and communities.

Below are just a few of the responses from teachers who suggested ways in which the school may effectively build partnerships with parents, families, and communities.

Incorporating these suggestions may add just a few more minutes to a teacher’s day, but will bring about benefits to the student-teacher-parent relationship that will last a lifetime.

Follow Arne on Twitter here, or sign up to receive a daily email with a summary of ED and Arne’s tweets.

Carrie Jasper

Carrie Jasper works in the Office of Communications and Outreach

Arne on Teacher Salaries and Standardized Tests

Arne sat down recently to respond to a couple of questions he received on his Facebook page. Kenny commented on how teacher salaries make it difficult to stay in the teaching profession. Duncan noted that low salaries are a real challenge.  “I’m out very publically saying that I think teachers need to make a heck of a lot more money,” Arne said. He went on to explain that we can’t pay a great teacher enough money for their talent and expertise. “We have to elevate the teaching profession,” he said.

In response to a comment from Sharon who worried that an overemphasis on standardized tests may keep talented teachers out of the classroom, Arne said that he absolutely shares that concern, and is one of the big reasons ED has offered No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers to states. NLCB is “far too punitive; it’s far too prescriptive, led to dummying down of standards, [and] led to a narrowing of the curriculum,” Duncan said. “We know filling out bubble tests once a year should not be what everyone is focused on.”

Click here to become a fan of Arne on Facebook, and here to follow him on Twitter.

Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.

Town Hall: 140 Characters at a Time

Twitter Town Hall

Secretary Duncan and John Merrow during the #AskArne Twitter Town Hall (Official Department of Education Photo by Paul Wood)

“I love my job,” Secretary Duncan said at the close of yesterday’s second #AskArne Twitter Town Hall, moderated by education journalist John Merrow.

Merrow covered a wide-range of education topics including teacher pay, early learning, and how to get more young people excited about teaching. Here are several of the topics Arne addressed:

Respecting Teachers:

Merrow pointed to a couple of Twitter questions about respecting teachers, and asked Arne if he believes that teachers have been subject to “teacher bashing.” Duncan agreed:

@usedgov: Arne: “No question” teacher bashing is happening. We need to elevate, not demean, the profession. #askarne

“Whether it’s teachers or the teaching profession,” Duncan explained, “we’re trying to do everything we can to elevate it, to strengthen it. To make sure we celebrate excellence, and to make sure that collective bargaining rights are maintained.

Charter Schools:

@tbfurman: Has the charter school movement begun to “police itself” – as you asked them to do last July? #AskArne

Arne replied:

@usedgov: Arne on charters: I see bad charters being phased out & closed down. There’s more work to be done. #AskArne

@usedgov: Arne: Need a high bar for charter schools. The chance to educate children is a sacred obligation. #AskArne

Later the topic of charters reemerged and Duncan explained:

@usedgov: Duncan: Where charter schools are high-performing, we want to support them. Where they aren’t, they’re part of the problem. #AskArne


@SteveGrose: Mich lawmakers are on a path to increase school choice without requiring improved quality. Is choice a reform model? #askarne

Arne explained:

@usedgov: Arne: For choice to work, it has to be choices between quality. #AskArne

@usedgov: Arne: It’s really important to empower parents. If parents are not empowered, I’d have a problem with that. #AskArne


@usedgov: Re: testing, we need to be evaluating students’ knowledge, but drilling on fill-in-bubble tests isn’t best way to do that #AskArne

Student Loan Debt:

@EDSuccess: #AskArne what policies are @usedgov considering to address student loan debt at public and non-profit schools?

Duncan replied:

@usedgov: Very proud of Obama admin’s progress on student aid, esp direct lending to cut out middlemen banks and put $40B into Pell Grants #AskArne

@usedgov: Find out more about lowering your student loan payments at

Early Education:

Stacy Casson: #AskArne When will this country make a serious investment in early childhood education for all children. Proven ROI as seen in Head Start.

Duncan noted the Obama Administration’s commitment to early learning programs through programs such as the recently announced Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge:

@usedgov: Re: early learning, it’s the best investment we can make. And @USEDgov is investing $500M into states for access to quality. #AskArne

To see all the tweets from the event, follow @usedgov on Twitter, and you can watch the archived video here. To keep up to date with ED on Twitter follow @ArneDuncan, @usedgov@ED_Outreach@EDPressSec or click here to see all of ED’s social media accounts.

#AskArne Twitter Town Hall Kicks Off American Education Week

Twitter Town Hall

Secretary Duncan talks with John Merrow during the first #AskArne Twitter Town Hall in August 2011. (Official Department of Education photo by Paul Wood)

To kick off American Education Week, Secretary Duncan will be participating in an #AskArne Twitter town hall today at 5pm ET. You can watch the town hall live on ED’s official ustream channel. Veteran education journalist John Merrow will moderate the discussion based on your #AskArne questions from Twitter.

If you can’t watch the town hall live, you can still ask questions any time before the event by using the hashtag #AskArne on Twitter. Video from the town hall will be archived on ED’s website, and check back to this blog for a summary, or sign up to receive blog updates by email.

Follow @ArneDuncan on Twitter, and click here to see all of ED’s social media accounts.

Secretary Duncan to Hold Second #AskArne Twitter Town Hall

Secretary Duncan announced today that he will hold his second #AskArne Twitter Town Hall on Monday November 14, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. ET. Veteran education journalist John Merrow will return to moderate the town hall that will also be broadcast live on ED’s ustream channel.

Beginning today, Twitter users can submit questions to Arne using the hashtag #AskArne.

Read more about Arne’s first Twitter Town Hall.

Click here for a complete list of ED’s Twitter accounts, and SIGN UP to receive a daily email summary of Secretary Duncan and ED’s tweets.

Keeping Teachers Off the Unemployment Line

“I don’t want teachers on the unemployment line. I want them in the classroom,” Secretary Duncan said last Friday at an American Jobs Act roundtable in Richmond, Va. “This is really a moment of truth for the country,” Arne said. Either invest in education, he added, or other countries will pass us by.

Secretary Duncan Tours in Richmond

Secretary Duncan talks with students during a tour of Richmond Community High School (official Department of Education Photo by Leslie Williams).

The American Jobs Act would provide $60 billion for education, in the form of jobs for educators and upgrades to schools and community colleges. Virginia alone stands to receive  $425 million for public school upgrades, and $742 million to preserve up to 10,000 teacher jobs. Richmond superintendent Yvonne Brandon said that federal money through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and additional job-saving funding had prevented teacher layoffs, but with that money now spent, Richmond faces a $16 million deficit for the next school year.

“In this budget cycle, everything is on the table,” Brandon said. “I’m afraid [teacher layoffs] may have to be part of the conversation this year.”

In addition to participating in a roundtable, Duncan toured Richmond Community High School—a 2011 Blue Ribbon School—where students and teachers showed the Secretary the need for infrastructure upgrades at their 86-year-old campus. He saw outdated science labs and leaky ceilings and heard about duct-taped textbooks and slow computers.

Arne noted the visit on his Twitter account and asked other students and teachers to join the conversation:

The American Jobs Act proposes a major investment that will modernize at least 35,000 public schools, and support 280,000 teacher jobs nationwide. See what impact the Act will have in your state, and read a complete overview of the American Jobs Act here.

Granting Administrative Flexibility for Better Measures of Success

On February 28, 2011, the President issued a memorandum to Federal agencies entitled “Administrative Flexibility, Lower Costs, and Better Results for State, Local, and Tribal Governments.” In that Memorandum, the President asked Federal agencies, in consultation with State, local, and tribal governments, to take actions that would provide increased flexibility—where it will yield the same or improved outcomes at lower cost—in Federal programs administered by State, local, and tribal governments.

As part of its efforts to meet the objectives of the Memorandum and to encourage the greater use of existing flexibilities, the Department is writing today to solicit ideas for three different types of pilot projects. Two of these types of projects would allow for the relaxation or waiver of requirements related to either (1) time-and-effort reporting under Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-87 or (2) the documentation or demonstration of compliance with other administrative record-keeping and reporting requirements similar to time and effort. In exchange for granting flexibility in either of these areas, the Department would require entities selected for a pilot project to use alternative methods of ensuring that Federal education dollars are appropriately used to meet overarching program goals—for example, by measuring outputs or improvements in student achievement associated with Federal investments. The Department is looking for examples of burdensome administrative record-keeping and reporting requirements as well as ideas on what alternative methods for ensuring proper oversight of Federal funds might be.

Read More

Join Arne for a Virtual Town Hall on Hispanic Education

To kick off the Administration’s focus on Hispanic education as a part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Secretary Duncan will engage with the Latino community through a virtual town hall at 2:30 p.m. ET today. The town hall will be moderated by Juan Sepúlveda, the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Duncan and Sepúlveda will discuss how Hispanic success in education is important to America’s economy and respond to questions submitted on Twitter.

The town hall will be streamed live at ED’s ustream channel. Twitter users can ask questions in advance and during the forum using the hashtag #HispanicED.

ED’s Carmel Martin to Answer ESEA Flexibility Questions via Twitter Chat

Carmel Martin, the U.S. Department of Education’s assistant secretary for planning, evaluation and policy development will host a Twitter chat on Wednesday, October 5, from 4-5 PM EDT to answer questions about the Obama Administration’s recent announcement that states can get relief from provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), commonly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The event will also be broadcast live on ED’s ustream channel.

The new flexibility supports local and state education reform across the country in exchange for serious state-led efforts to close achievement gaps, promote rigorous accountability, and ensure that all students are on track to graduate college- and career-ready. Click here for more information on ESEA Flexibility.

Beginning today, Twitter users can submit questions to Carmel using the hashtag #EDFlex.