From its first day, the Obama Administration has worked to ensure opportunity for all students – no matter their zip code. Educational equity underscores the work of the U.S. Department of Education, and this week offers a glimpse into the far-ranging work of the Department as we support schools, families, communities and states in ensuring every student has the opportunity to be successful.
We start the week with an event at the White House with Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, and White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz the discrimination, harassment and bullying of Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian – known as MASSA – students in schools. The event will give us a chance to hear directly from educators, students, parents and community members about how to best create safe and supportive learning environments for all students.
On Tuesday, we will release a first look at the new 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection, a comprehensive database with information from every public school in the country. These data go to the heart of the Department’s mission—to promote educational excellence for all students, regardless of their race, religion, country of origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or family income, as well as monitor how public schools are meeting their responsibility to serve all students.
And Education Secretary John B. King Jr. will travel to Virginia to join U.S. Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe for a discussion on the Summer Food Service Program, which provides meals to families in schools across the country throughout the summer months.
On Wednesday, Secretary King will take part in the morning in a Congressional briefing to talk about the Obama Administration’s proposed Stronger Together grant program to support innovative locally-driven plans to increase socioeconomic diversity in schools. In the afternoon, Secretary King will be joined by U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro at a listening session jointly hosted by the U.S. Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation to explore strategies for improving diversity in schools and communities and expanding opportunity through collaboration across the education, housing, and transportation sectors.
At the end of the week, we will focus on efforts to end chronic absenteeism. Wednesday brings a gathering at the White House of the My Brother’s Keeper Success Mentor initiative aimed at reducing chronic absenteeism in schools by connecting more than 1 million students with caring mentors. The initiative began with 10 cities and has grown to 30 communities across the country. On Thursday and Friday, we will host the Every Student, Every Day National Conference also aimed at combatting chronic absenteeism, featuring a discussion on the issue by Secretary King, along with civil rights legend Marian Wright Edelman and Secretary Castro. The Department will also release new CRDC data on chronic absenteeism, the first-ever comprehensive, national look at the issue.
Dorie Nolt is the Press Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education.