Student Artists From Rose Tree Media School District Celebrated at the U.S. Department of Education

A picture of a group of dozens of students sitting and standing on a stage in the U.S. Department of Education auditorium.

Students from the Rose Tree Media School District celebrate their success at the U.S. Department of Education.

About 250 student artists, teachers, parents, and school administrators from the Rose Tree Media School District in Pennsylvania, along with U.S. Department of Education (ED) staff, recently celebrated the students’ “Interpretations of Portraiture” exhibit at ED headquarters in Washington, D.C.  It featured 85 pieces of artwork from all six of the district’s K–12 schools, each of them a unique portrait.

The exhibit and opening took five years of collaborative development led by Art Coordinator Kathleen Devine, its previous coordinator Meg Barney, and others in the district. This true community effort had extraordinary results.

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Seventh Cohort of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Announced

On May 16th, the U.S. Department of Education named the 2018 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS), District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees. Across the country, 46 schools, six districts, and six postsecondary institutions were honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.

The honorees were named from a pool of candidates nominated by 25 states and the Department of Defense Education Activity. The 2018 cohort includes 40 public schools, including two magnet schools and two charter schools, as well as six nonpublic schools. Forty-five percent of the 2018 honorees serve a disadvantaged student body.

Curious what it takes to be a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School? Here are a few of the actions that the 2018 honorees are taking:

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A Counselor’s Thank You to Teachers

We hear about all the great teachers in the counseling office.  The one who set the times tables to the tune of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” ensuring kids will remember them forever, even if it will take a while to get to eight times nine.  Mr. Jones, the history teacher who dressed up like Benjamin Franklin for an entire week and never once broke character.  The tenth grade English teacher who finally explained “I after e” in a way that made sense.  When you put that much thought into a lesson, it’s makes for memorable teaching.

Of course, that’s not the only way teachers become memorable.  The teacher who said just the right words at just the right time to the bully who had incredible art talent, making the student more comfortable with who they really were, and less of a bully.  The teacher who wore the cut-rate perfume a special needs student gave her at Christmas, every time that student had a spelling test—the same perfume she’d wear when attending that student’s graduation from medical school. The teacher who shows up at the Saturday soccer league and cheers loudly for all of her students on the sidelines, even though her students are spread throughout both teams, and it’s forty degrees out.

You can’t analyze a test score to determine what these teachable moments do to the learning and learning habits of students, but everyone seems to understand what they do to students’ learning, and students’ lives.  Like recess, these teachable moments inspire in ways we can’t quite measure, but we still know their worth is beyond measure.

These aren’t just discrete, feel-good stories.  Most of my counseling work for the last thirteen years has involved working with students in college placement.  In that time, every student—every single one—has had the chance to go to college; most have earned at least one merit scholarship, and for those who have been out for four years or more, nearly all of them have finished college on time.

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What is APAHM?

APAHM stands for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. It was first designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week by President Carter under Public Law 95-419 in 1978. In 1992, it was designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month by President Bush under Public Law 102-450.

This is a time for many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) to reflect on our history here in the U.S. and also celebrate our culture and heritage. It’s a month full of joyous activities as well as remembering some challenges in U.S. history such as the Chinese Exclusion Act. President Trump proclaimed May 2018 as APAHM by recognizing the tremendous contributions that AAPIs such as Kalpana Chawla and Susan Ahn Cuddy have made to our communities and nation.

The U.S. Federal government will take part in these festivities by hosting events in commemoration of APAHM so keep your eyes on the lookout for events across our nation’s capital and the country! The U.S. Department of Education will be hosting two events this month through the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI). WHIAAPI works to improve the quality of life for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the nation through increased access to and participation in federal programs. Learn more about our mission.

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Youth and Money Matters

When you were in middle or high school, did you learn money basics? Did you take a personal finance class? If so, you were among the less than half of Americans who did. Today, only 17 states require high school students to take a personal finance class before they graduate, and only about six test students on what they’ve learned.

As April was National Financial Capability Month, it was the perfect time for the Department to turn its attention to financial literacy for youth and what it could do to promote best practices and support a network of policymakers and practitioners across the country

The Department, in partnership with the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC), organized a special convening entitled “Financial Education in America’s Schools.” The goal was to engage the education community, local and state stakeholders, financial institutions and others in building strong, permanent partnerships that immerse youth in financial concepts.

In addition, the Department encouraged states to participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an international survey administered to 15-year-olds that includes a component on financial literacy. PISA results for 2015 showed that students who had a bank account scored higher than their peers who didn’t have one.

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Soliciting Input for the Statewide Family Engagement Centers

[Note: The comment period has expired and comments have been closed.]

The United States Department of Education (Department) recognizes that family engagement in school is an important component of student success. As schools improve their efforts to engage families, we know that some schools, districts and states may need additional support and technical assistance. Through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, Congress has authorized funding for the Statewide Family Engagement Centers Program.  Title IV, Part E, Sections 4501 – 4506 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act, is intended to provide financial support to organizations to provide technical assistance and training to State educational agencies and local educational agencies in the implementation and enhancement of systemic and effective family engagement policies, programs, and activities that lead to improvements in student development and academic achievement.  The Secretary is authorized to award grants to statewide organizations (or consortia of such organizations) to establish statewide family engagement centers that (1) carry out parent education, and family engagement in education; or (2) provide comprehensive training and technical assistance to State educational agencies and local educational agencies, schools, organizations that support family-school partnerships, and other organizations that carry out such programs.

Because the Department is very interested in your input, we are posting the legislation as part of this blog post.  We encourage all interested parties to submit opinions, ideas, suggestions, and comments pertaining to the Statewide Family Engagement Centers program in the comments section below.  This document will be posted for public comments until 5:00 PM EDT on Friday May 11, 2018, at which time the response section will be closed and we will begin considering input received as we develop the requirements, priorities, selection criteria, and definitions.  Though the Department will not respond to comments, the Department will read and consider all comments in finalizing the Statewide Family Engagement Centers program and competition design.  In early summer, we will publish a notice inviting applications in the Federal Register.

This is a moderated site.

That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. We intend to post all responsive submissions on a timely basis. We reserve the right not to post comments that are unrelated to this request, are inconsistent with ED’s Web site policies, are advertisements or endorsements, or are otherwise inappropriate. To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. For more information, please be sure to read the “comments policy” tab at the top of the Web page.

The fine print

Please understand that posts must be related to the new competition and program, and should be as specific as possible, and, as appropriate, supported by data and relevant research. Posts must be limited to 1,000 words. All opinions, ideas, suggestions and comments are considered informal input. ED will not respond to individual posts, and these posts may or may not be reflected in the policies and requirements of the program. If you include a link to additional information in your post, we urge you to ensure that the linked-to information is accessible to all individuals, including individuals with disabilities. Additionally, please do not include links to advertisements or endorsements; we will delete all such links before your comment is posted.

Again, thank you for your interest in this opportunity to support family engagement in student learning. We look forward to hearing from you.

Department of Education’s linking policy

Department of Education’s disclaimer of endorsement

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Autism – A Family’s Journey and the Lights Along the Way

A picture of a family - father and mother sitting in front, three adult children (the two men on either side of the woman) standing in back - all wearing black shirts in front of a brown background.Note: April is National Autism Awareness Month.

Autism.

There was a time when I couldn’t even say the word out loud. It was too painful, too devastating to utter. I wanted to believe that if I didn’t say the word, it didn’t exist. But it does exist; it’s real, and it’s beautiful, and it’s challenging all at the same time. And whether I say the word or not, my son Chris has autism.

I’ve been on this autism journey for 30 years now, more than half my life. Back in 1990, when Chris was first diagnosed, there was no autism awareness month, because there wasn’t autism awareness. Family, friends, and neighbors looked at me quizzically when I shared his diagnosis. What does that mean? How did he get it? How do you cure it? But I did not have the answers. Even the multitude of doctors we saw could not provide the answers. Since that time, there has been an exponential increase in the number of children diagnosed, and almost everyone has been touched by autism in some way. So today, when a family shares the diagnosis, others are usually aware of what it means.

As I reflect on the past 30 years I recall so many memories. I remember, as if it was yesterday, sitting in the doctor’s office; the diagnosis confirmed my fears following months of research into what might be causing the unusual behaviors of our little boy.

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Bank Accounts, Student Loans, Credit Cards, Oh My!

In addition to covering my United States Government and Politics curriculum, every year I put my students through a mini “adulting 101” bootcamp. During the first semester of school we focus on basic “adulting” skills like registering to vote, laundry care, vehicle maintenance, building a resume, meal planning, cooking, etc.

During the second semester, I focus on four financial basics that establish a foundation for these students to become financially literate adults.

  • The basics of banking includes checking accounts, savings accounts, writing checks, money orders, cashier’s checks, fees and setting up automatic payments.
  • Understanding credit, credit cards, fees and penalties, interest rates, repayment and credit scores.
  • Borrowing money, interest rates, repayment options and debt.
  • Budgeting, saving and investing.

Initially when I narrowed the focus of the financial literacy portion of my “adulting 101” curriculum, I reached out to my local bank for information and resources. They not only provided me with free resources, they also offered to present to my students. This was an awesome opportunity for a financial professional and community partner to answer questions and provide insight to these young adults getting ready to start the next, but for most, the first financial chapter of their lives.

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Honoring MLK Jr.’s Drum Major Legacy: Innovative Pathways to Success

More than a dozen people stand on either side of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos displaying their award certificates.To honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., earlier this month the U.S. Department of Education hosted the Honoring MLK Jr.’s Drum Major Legacy: Innovative Pathways to Success event. Honoring Dr. King at this time held even more significance because the following day was the 50th anniversary of his assassination, which shook the world on April 4, 1968. Although his fight for justice and peace was cut short, celebrating his legacy reminded us what it means to be persistent and righteous leaders for change, especially for the benefit of our youth in communities and schools across the nation.

Recognizing the Drum Major Spirit

ED’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans honored members of communities across the nation who have upheld Dr. King’s legacy through their extraordinary everyday acts of service, especially benefiting youth and education. These distinguished honorees received the 2018 MLK Jr. Drum Major Innovation Service Award.

As Dr. King once said, “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice, say that I was a drum major for peace, I was a drum major for righteousness.” The award recipients demonstrated the drum major spirit in their own way, whether as a school administrator, faith leader, community leader, parent or other engaged leader.

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Another Journey

A picture of a father and mother with their 2 sons stand on walkway next to a canal with tourists behind them and a bridge in the background.

The Bae family during trip to England

Note: April is National Autism Awareness Month.

Just like any other school day, Eugene, my son with autism, left on the bus this morning to go to a day program provided by our school district. For the last 20 years, he and I wait for the bus by sitting on our front porch. As he steps on the bus, he shouts at me with his happy high-pitched voice, “Bye Mom!” This is our ritual to begin each new day, to meet that day’s challenges, emotions, promises and hopes.

In June this year, he will age out from the district program. I cannot help being emotional whenever I think about his first day of preschool and the journey that Eugene and our family have been on since then. On that day, I cried in the car for two hours after separating from my miserable, crying child.

Since that first day, school has been a challenging place for both Eugene and me. While Eugene was learning the alphabet and phonics, I studied the never-ending list of special education acronyms.

Just like other special education moms in this world, when my child cried about his school work, I wept on my steering wheel, but when he was happy in school, I felt like I had the world on a string. At times, figuring out how to navigate the world of special education for our son with autism while struggling with his atypical behaviors seemed like a brutal mission for a family like us, and we often felt we were not understood, not just because of our heavy Korean accents

However, our fundamental concern has not changed in these 20 years, and that is to help our son reach the final destination for his journey – Eugene being able to live an independent and inclusive life in the community. Of course, this is the same concern shared by thousands of moms and dads who have children with disabilities.

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High School Students Take a Unique Approach to Financial Education

April is Financial Capability Month. To help mark this occasion, two students offer their perspectives on their very different experiences in obtaining financial education.

 

Picture shows high school student Samuel Gelb sitting in front of some pine trees.

Samuel Gelb

Growing up, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a father who has educated me on fundamental financial principles. In my house, terms like P/E ratios, EBITDA, ROI and diversification are a part of our regular vocabulary.

From selling lemonade as a young child to buying my first stocks at age twelve, business, entrepreneurship and finance have always been a part of my life. Seeking to expand my love of investing to others, I co-founded an investment club at my school called “The Blake Asset Management Group” in an attempt to give my peers and me a chance to test our investment acumen in a real-world setting.

While I expected our club’s first meeting to revolve around potential investment ideas, I was surprised to see that most of those in attendance actually knew little about stocks, and even fewer knew how to analyze a stock at the most rudimentary level. Most surprising was the number of students who lacked an understanding of broader and more important general financial literacy concepts like interest, diversification, and the importance of saving.

Recognizing that it would be difficult to run a club where few members possessed the necessary knowledge to invest, the leadership team and I restructured our club’s focus. We decided to measure our success not by the investment profits we generated but rather by the number of students we educated. Consequently, I designed and created a financial literacy course and made it available to all students at my high school.

The initiative, which was taught through the club, was a major success. Due to strong demand, what was initially intended to be a 5-week course turned into a 12-week class with interactive lesson plans and guest speakers. Students gained a thorough knowledge of basic financial concepts.

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After Hurricanes, USVI Residents Choose Hope

After three devastating hurricanes struck the Caribbean, the Department of Education undertook a series of actions to support the U.S. Virgin Islands through their recovery process. As part of that effort, ED staff committed to travelling to the Islands to provide resources, assistance, and expertise.

In November, as the ED team began their descent into the Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, the large-scale devastation left by Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria became alarmingly clear. Once lushly green, the landscape had turned muddy and brown. Roads were washed out entirely; buildings were roofless or pushed off their foundations; parts of the islands were left in total darkness. Businesses — the lifeblood of an economy so reliant on tourism — were shuttered.

The team, which included Iyauta Green (Risk Management Service), Joy Medley (Office of School Support and Rural Programs), and Mark Robinson (Risk Management Service), then began a five day trip to assess the damage that the storms had left behind.

They also spoke with administrators — including private school headmasters — teachers, students, and staff at the Virgin Islands Department of Education (VIDE) administration, including Commissioner Sharon McCollum. From them, ED staff learned about the many needs facing the Islands and their students.

The storms hadn’t just created immediate, physical interruptions. They’d also halted progress toward a larger priority for the USVI: to diversify the workforce. Dr. McCollum had long wanted to keep the local economy competitive, and was concerned about students leaving the island — and taking their skills and talents with them. Instead, post-hurricanes, nearly 10 percent of students had left the USVI to continue, or finish, their education.

And students still on the Islands were required to adapt to a “new normal.” Many school buildings were either closed or operating on split schedules. At Ulla Muller Elementary School on St. Thomas, children ate FEMA packets instead of hot lunches.

Read more about the ED team’s visits to the U.S. Virgin Islands at Medium…