By: Brenda Calderon, Ph.D., Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
“Promise Neighborhoods build on the rich resources, ingenuity, and creativity of communities to bring together schools, nonprofits, and other organizations in a concerted effort to meet the needs of children and youth” — Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
One of the most critical challenges illuminated by the recent period of emergency remote learning has been providing access to reliable, high-speed internet and connected devices to facilitate everywhere, all-the-time learning. Data clearly show the lack of these essential technologies impact communities of color and low-income communities to a disproportionate extent. As schools recover from the pandemic, several federal agencies and the Office of Educational Technology (OET) are stepping up to provide resources to close the digital divide.
By: Misael Gonzalez, High School English Language Arts teacher, Miami, Florida
In many ways, my definition of teacher leadership was shaped by dramatized Hollywood portrayals of real accounts: a heroic singular leader fighting the system to make a change, a school in a “rough part of town” with a high minority-student population, and a challenge that had been thought a lost cause by everyone else I have come to realize that teacher leadership is not a case of catching lighting in a bottle. Through research, reading, and learning in my doctoral program, I’ve come to understand teacher leadership relies on collaborative efforts in and out of the classroom, requires a unique set of skills, and needs the right culture to truly grow. Here is what I’ve learned:
By: Chris Soto, Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary
The Puerto Rico education system is at a pivotal moment with many influences converging to help accelerate positive change for the Puerto Rico Department of Education, and ultimately the students it serves. The combination of the influx of federal relief dollars, a strengthened relationship with the U.S. Department of Education, and an island-wide recognition of the urgency for structural changes that address root causes and prioritize student outcomes, provides an opportunity to take a proactive approach towards addressing long-standing challenges.
Education leaders have no greater responsibility than ensuring student safety and well-being in school. Across the nation, these leaders have worked tirelessly over the past two years to maintain services that are vital for student wellness; to safely reopen schools; and to set conditions for a strong, equitable academic recovery. It’s been the Department of Education’s privilege to partner every step of the way in this effort.
By: Julian Guerrero, Director, Office of Indian Education Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
Haa Maruaweka (“Hello everyone,” in Comanche language)
Advancing its commitment to maintaining, protecting, and revitalizing Native American languages – the U.S. Department of Education has announced approximately $1 million in grant funding available for Native American Language (NAL@ED) projects. Native American language learning is fundamentally connected to the well-being and sustainability of Tribal sovereignty and self-determination. A major emphasis of this program is to fund both partial and full immersion programs in addition to developing new or expanding existing language programs.
This is our moment to truly reimagine education. This is our moment to lift our students, our education system, and our country to a level never before seen. As the great Congressman Lewis said, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”
-Secretary Cardona’s Vision for Education in America (2022)
Imagine a high school in which every single student is energized, excited, and engaged in powerful learning that connects them to their communities, nurtures their career aspirations, and provides them with a head start on college. These students are thriving in rigorous academics, earning several college credits before graduating from high school—including their first college math and English classes, and two classes connected to their possible future careers. These students, along with their families, receive personalized and ongoing career and college advising and navigation supports so that they make informed decisions about the classes they take, the pathways they pursue, and the goals they set for their lives.
The COVID-19 pandemic proved to all of us just how important access to childcare and early childhood education is not only for children, but for parents and caretakers. I know I felt that tension, personally, as I too juggled childcare responsibilities for my daughter and work at the beginning of the pandemic. Eventually, I was able to enroll her in a universal pre-K program. However, due to pandemic policies, that was only four hours per day, and balancing work, virtual school, and the need for additional childcare was a complicated mix.
By: Richard Cordray, Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid
Today, I’m pleased to announce that Federal Student Aid (FSA) posted the solicitation for what we’re calling the Unified Servicing and Data Solution (USDS). The USDS is the long-term loan servicing solution designed to provide federal student loan borrowers with a 21st-century customer experience. Building on lessons learned from past loan servicing efforts, FSA and the U.S. Department of Education are committed to holding USDS servicers accountable for a high level of performance and focusing on key objectives like reducing borrower delinquency and default.
By: Neven Holland, Treadwell Elementary, Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS), Tennessee
“It’s the difficulty that keeps me here. It’s the opportunity to give my students in an underserved neighborhood with limited resources the high-quality teachers they deserve,” says my teacher colleague Armani Alexander. Despite all the difficulties of pandemic teaching, there is still this culture to grit and grind like our hometown Memphis Grizzlies in the profession we love with respect and knowledge of our urban community (Emdin, 2016).
As one of the first recipients in Maine of a Pell Grant through the Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative, I cherish these opportunities to represent education’s potential for rehabilitating the imprisoned. My education while incarcerated and my release to the “real world” holds perspective which I offer gratefully to provide more insight on this topic. Transitioning back to normal living has had its challenges, but I’m no stranger to life’s obstacles.