#RethinkSchool: Struggling Student Discovers Path through Colorado Apprenticeship Program

Sierra didn’t always dream of working in the insurance business. In fact, until recently, she didn’t even know if she’d finish high school.

But with the help of a caring counselor, a local business and an innovative state effort, Sierra is now thriving in her new role as a full-time employee at Pinnacol Assurance.

Her journey from struggling student to working professional began when Sierra’s counselor approached her with a new opportunity through CareerWise, a Colorado nonprofit that helps businesses recruit talent through paid apprenticeships that begin in high school.

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15 Fast Facts about the Swiss Apprenticeship Program

This morning, the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor and Commerce joined the Swiss government in signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on apprenticeships. This agreement will build upon ongoing collaboration between the United States and Switzerland to encourage businesses and stakeholders to promote the value of apprenticeship programs and develop effective strategies to increase awareness of and access to work-based learning.

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The 5 Most Helpful Federal Student Aid Blog Posts

Not attending the FSA conference this week? Learn from home using these resources.

With Federal Student Aid’s (FSA) Annual Conference in full swing in Atlanta, we understand that not everyone is able to attend and learn from financial aid experts. However, you don’t have to be a financial aid professional to become a FAFSA expert.

Here are the Top 5 FSA blog posts to help students and parents become FAFSA ‘pros’:

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Secretary DeVos Warns of Student Debt Crisis

Secretary Betsy DeVos delivers opening remarks at the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Training Conference in Atlanta. She stands at a lectern to the side of an American flag and a U.S. Department of Education flag at the left of the photo. In the background is a large banner with "Federal Student Aid An Office of the U.S. Department of Education" written on it.
Secretary DeVos delivered the opening remarks at this year’s Federal Student Aid Training Conference, raising “a warning flag with American students and American taxpayers.” While noting that “our higher ed system is the envy of the world,” she also cautioned, “if we, as a country, do not make important policy changes in the way we distribute, administer, and manage federal student loans, the program on which so many students rely will be in serious jeopardy.”

In addition to her warnings about the looming student debt crisis, the Secretary also recognized administrators for their valuable work and shared some of the ways the administration is rethinking financial aid.

If you missed the Secretary’s speech, here are the three greatest takeaways for financial aid administrators.

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Rural Opioid Federal Interagency Working Group Releases Rural Resource Guide

The Rural Opioid Federal Interagency Working Group recently released a Rural Resource Guide to help rural communities address the opioid epidemic. The guide is “a listing of Federal programs that can be used to build resilient communities and address opioid misuse in rural communities. The Rural Resource Guide to Help Communities Address Substance Use Disorder and Opioid Misuse (PDF, 1.7 MB) is a first-of-its-kind, one-stop-shop for rural leaders looking for Federal funding and partnership opportunities,” according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

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#RethinkSchool: Military Family Finds Homeschooling to be Just the Right Fit

When asked to share their thoughts on the benefits of school choice and their homeschool experience, this military family did what they do every day: they turned the occasion into a learning opportunity. Dan, his wife Jenna, and their six kids gathered at the dinner table to shape a response – as individual, independent thinkers and as a family.

In this interview, slightly edited for length and clarity, the family describes the transformative of impact school choice.

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Identifying and Addressing Leaks in the STEM Education Pipeline

Photo of female student in a classroom smiling at the camera.Students need a strong foundation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math, including computer science) education to be prepared for the careers and challenges of the 21st century and beyond. Algebra I is considered the “gatekeeper” course to advanced math and science, with early access and enrollment crucial for students’ future success in STEM. However, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s newly released “data story” , while 80% of public school students are able to take Algebra I early — in 8th grade — only 24% of students actually do so. This “leak” in the STEM pipeline can have long-term effects on students’ education and career opportunities.

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#RethinkSchool: Challenging Journey Empowers Student to Dream Big

When it came time for Miami resident Lily Suquet and her son Ethan to determine which middle school Ethan would attend, they decided to shop around. After looking at five different schools,  they finally settled on Jose Marti Mast Academy in Hialeah, a magnet school with a STEM focus, where Ethan is now an 11th grader.

At his old school, Ethan regularly achieved straight A’s, but he knew that a more challenging learning environment would enhance his education and better prepare him for future success, so in choosing Jose Marti, he chose a school that would test his learning capacity.

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#RethinkSchool: Back to School Tour Observes Innovation Across the Nation

Throughout the months of September and October, the U.S. Department of Education hosted its Rethink School Tour. This year’s tour consisted of 16 Department of Education officials visiting 46 states, 2 territories and the District of Columbia. Department of Education officials met with over 47 national, state and local elected and appointed officials while visiting close to 90 schools and programs throughout the country.

During the tour, Department officials had the opportunity to observe interesting approaches to K-12 and higher education, meet with and hear from students, teachers, parents and administrators and celebrate the many ways rethinking education benefits students everywhere.

Here is what we saw on the 2018 Rethink School Tour.

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#RethinkSchool: The Life-Changing Difference the Right School Makes

If you’d met Micah Ohanian before seventh grade, you’d encounter a young man who was struggling to succeed in an assigned neighborhood school, yet, a student who was determined to find an academic environment that truly worked for him.

“School choice benefited me,” he says simply, “in the best way.”

Micah describes the teaching approach at his former middle school as forging ahead from topic to topic on an inflexible schedule, with few accommodations for students with different learning needs.

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#RethinkSchool: Choice Matters for Military-Connected Students

“There are so many active-duty military families today who are making decisions about how they advance within the military, or where they are going to live… based on educational opportunities for their children,” Secretary DeVos recently said in a conversation with Kay Coles James, president of the Heritage Foundation. “I think we have the opportunity to change the dynamic for them.”

Maddie Shick is from one such family – and, despite being a bright student, she faces challenges that accompany a military-connected lifestyle.  A self-proclaimed “professional new girl,” Maddie is now a sophomore at Robinson High School in Tampa, Florida.

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#RethinkSchool: Community-Led School, Community-Wide Solutions

“North Idaho STEM Academy was created at the request of parents and the community.”

The first line of the school’s promotional video, found on its website, underscores a key – indeed, perhaps the most important — tenet of North Idaho STEM Academy: it was created for the community, and by the community.

Opened in September 2012, the school serves students in kindergarten through grade 12 in Rathdrum, Idaho, and surrounding areas. School leaders don’t consider STEM a “buzzword” or a fad; instead, teachers incorporate science, technology, engineering and math into everything that students learn and do – from kindergarten through graduation.

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