Join Education on the ‘Real-World Learning’ 2016 Green Strides Tour!

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) and its Green Strides outreach initiative share promising practices and resources in the areas of safe, healthy, and sustainable school environments; nutrition and outdoor physical activity; and environmental and sustainability education.

To bring additional attention to honorees’ practices, ED-GRS has conducted an annual Green Strides tour, allowing schools, school districts, and postsecondary institutions to share their work with community leaders and policymakers and celebrate their achievements. The following is the tentative tour schedule. Updates will be shared through our newsletter.

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Transformation Through Education: The Importance of Second Chance Pell

In order for the nation to increase college access and success for all students, we know that education must occur in a variety of environments, Sing Sing prison included. Our group of college leaders, non-profit, government and corrections officials gathered for a strategic partners meeting to discuss expanding support for prison education programs and to see the work up close.

I started the day struck by stark contrasts — the daunting high walls and barbwire fencing overlooking the calm, picturesque waters of the Hudson River — the setting for an impassioned conversation about the value of education with a group of incarcerated college students. The students we met are enrolled in the Hudson Link educational program but as visitors that day, we were the ones going to school.

Hudson Link alumnus and Academic Coordinator Todd Young, Talisha Duncan, daughter of Hudson Link alumnus Douglas Duncan, and Kim Hunter Reed. (Photo courtesy of the author)

Hudson Link alumnus and Academic Coordinator Todd Young, Talisha Duncan, daughter of Hudson Link alumnus Douglas Duncan, and Kim Hunter Reed. (Photo courtesy of the author)

We heard tough facts from a black male who noted, “When you come up with nothing, you wind up in jail or dead. We wound up in jail.” We also saw demonstrations of transformation through education.

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10 Common Tweets @FAFSA Gets on Twitter

Student on laptop.

We’ve been answering a lot of your back-to-school comments and questions on Twitter! Here are some of the most popular tweets we get, with our answers:

1. We get this question so many times a day! Your school will disburse (pay out) your financial aid, not the federal government. Since each school has a different timeline for awarding aid, you’ll have to call your school’s financial aid office to find out the specific date.

2. College can be expensive, we know! We provide as much aid as we can based on the information you provided on your FAFSA. There are many factors we take into account, like your year in school and how much it costs to attend your school. If you need more financial aid, here are 7 options you should consider. Make sure you look into applying for local scholarships or talk to your school’s financial aid office for personalized advice.

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Increased Oversight of ITT and the Impact on Students

In recent years, ITT Educational Services, Inc. (ITT) has increasingly been the subject of state and federal investigations and this year it has twice been found out of compliance with its accreditor’s standards. Over time, ITT’s decisions have put its students and millions of dollars in taxpayer funded federal student aid at risk. In response, over the last couple of years, we at the Department of Education have increased our financial oversight over ITT and required the school to boost its cash reserves to cover potential damages to taxpayers and students.

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An American Teacher in China

Every year during back to school season, I find the time to reflect on students I’ve met in the past and unique classroom experiences I’ve had.

I have had the opportunity to visit China twice – once in 2012 and once in 2015 – and during both visits I was able to visit schools and speak with teachers and students.

During my last trip, I spoke with teachers in Luoyang, Shenzhen, Beijing and Wuhan.

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9 Consejos Útiles para Padres en este Regreso a Clases

El regreso a clases puede ser un tiempo de locura y ansiedad para padres de familia y sus hijos. Estos son algunos de nuestros mejores consejos para asegurar que este nuevo año de clases tenga un buen comienzo.



Recorre el camino que tu hijo seguirá para ir a la escuela y toma nota de patrulleros escolares, guardias de cruces peatonales y áreas de tráfico en el transcurso. Conversa con tus hijos sobre NO hablar con extraños e investiga cuáles son las reglas en tu escuela sobre la llegada temprana o tardía. Pregunta sobre los procesos de entrada y salida en la escuela. Si es posible, pasa a visitar la escuela y conoce las instalaciones por dentro.

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Parents: 9 Back to School Pro Tips

Back to school time can be a hectic time for both you and the kiddos. These are some of our best back to school tips to help ensure this school year gets off to a great start!




Walk or ride the route your child will take and make note of school patrols, crossing guards and high traffic areas along the way. Talk to your kids about NOT talking to strangers and find out what, if any, policies your child’s school has regarding early arrivals or late pick-ups. Learn about the school’s entrance and exit policies. Then, if you can, pop in and check out what the inside of the school looks like.

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Learning to Let Go: It’s Time for Preschool

This year, I sent my youngest child to preschool.

Over the summer, we had the luxury of hours of cuddle time, reading books together, jumping on the trampoline and building endless Lego and wood block structures.

Chowin' down! (photo courtesy of the author)

Chowin’ down! (photo courtesy of the author)

But now, it’s time for him to start his preschool journey – and I’m feeling a little hesitant about a few things.

First, I am really going to miss him every day. What if other kids say harsh things to him and his feelings get hurt? What if he trips and falls? Or, what if he has an accident and the teachers don’t comfort him as well as I can?

I’m worried about a lot – but I’m also very excited.

Noé’s preschool is diverse in a number of ways. Students are as young as two years old or as old as five. The student population is also made up of kids from different socio-economic backgrounds, as well as different ethnic and language backgrounds. Additionally, some families have a generational history of high levels of education while other may or may not have attained high school diplomas.

Every day, the teachers set up learning stations where students can create, arrange, construct, converse, act out, write, draw or play together.

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Debunking Common Myths Behind U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

What is a “green” or “sustainable” school, you ask? Read on!

What is a “green” or “sustainable” school, you ask? Read on!

Five years ago, I was tasked with developing what came to be called U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS).  You may have heard of it.  The recognition award is now known for honoring sustainable schools annually.

What is a “green” or “sustainable” school, you ask?  Well, we established a federal definition when we created the award.  That federal education definition includes three broad areas that we call PillarsPillar I is ‘Reducing Environmental Impact and Costs‘, including waste, water, greenhouse gases, energy, and transportation. Pillar II is ‘Improving Health and Wellness‘, including physical activity, nutrition, and environmental health. Pillar III is ‘Teaching Effective Environmental and Sustainability Education.’

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Finding My Voice and Sharing My Story with Secretary King

Jamie Talley (in white), a NAEHCY scholarship recipient, sharing her views with Secretary King.

Jamie Talley (in white) is a NAEHCY scholarship recipient.

My name is Jamie Talley, I am a National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) scholarship recipient. I experienced homelessness, and I work every day to make myself someone different than the family I was born into.

I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Washington D.C., with other NAEHCY scholars. There is one moment that I will remember forever.

You’ve been given the opportunity to sit at the table and make a difference, so make it count.

That moment was when it actually dawned on me just what was taking place. These may not have been his exact words, but this was the point Sam Ryan, Special Assistant and Youth Liaison at the U.S. Department of Education, was making just before Secretary John B. King, Jr., entered the room.

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Announcing the New Pay for Success Competition for Early Learning

Expanding access to high quality early learning is one of the smartest investments we can make, but we should – and can – do more. Here at the U.S. Department of Education, we’re committed to helping ensure that all children are ready for kindergarten and beyond.

We should have a greater focus on evidenced-based practices, on measuring and improving outcomes for our youngest learners, and more incentives for promoting innovative approaches that promise to further improve child outcomes.

That’s why I’m pleased to announce today a new grant competition, the Preschool Pay for Success (PFS) Feasibility Pilot. This is an opportunity for state, local and Tribal governments to explore how to use Pay for Success to expand access to proven programs. It’s also a chance for them test other innovative promising approaches — all with a focus on improving outcomes for our children and society.

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Wherever You Are – Let’s Read, Let’s Move

Students gathered at the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens to listen to Secretary King and others read out loud.

Students gathered at the National Arboretum to listen to Secretary King and others read out loud.

Reading over the summer makes students more prepared when the new school year begins. That’s why the U.S. Department of Education (ED) makes an annual call to action that encourages more reading time out of school, especially over the summer months. Two events held last week celebrated reading and physical activity and aimed to increase awareness about the critical importance of summer learning.

The Olympic anthem rang out. Played by a band from MusicianShip, a D.C. nonprofit that facilitates music opportunities for students, it set the stage for this year’s Let’s Read, Let’s Move event at the U.S. National Arboretum. Dignitaries and special guests proceeded to the garden that served as the reading area, followed by pre-k to 6th grade students who carried flags representing their “Olympic” teams: Bursting Beans, Outgoing Onions, and Helpful Honey Bees among them.

With extreme energy, each VIP, including Secretary King, White House Executive Director of Let’s Move! Deb Eschmeyer, White House Chief Horticulturist Jim Adams, Chef Carla Hall, from ABC’s “The Chew” and Brian Mihelic, Washington, D.C. Youth Rugby, read a portion of Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin. It was difficult to tell who was more enthusiastic – the special dignitaries and guests who incorporated movement into their reading or the children who followed directions, paid attention and asked probing questions afterwards. Do worms really think baseballs are rocks? Do worms really eat paper? In the story, the worm eats his homework, which causes some trouble for him, and students agreed that would cause trouble for them, too.

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