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: 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.
By: Richard Cordray, Chief, U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid
Ten years ago this week, President Barack Obama issued an executive order that established guiding principles to protect veterans, service members, and their families who pursue higher education. These are known formally as the Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses, and Other Family Members. To apply these principles, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) works with the Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to ensure colleges and career schools provide quality educational opportunities to military-connected students.
My name is Jessica Louise Henry. I am a 39-year-old woman born and raised in Detroit. After foster care, juvenile detention centers, teen pregnancy, three rehabs, several therapists, eight jail terms, and two prison bids, my life had become scattered. I have a visual of cards spread haphazardly across the floor with many unanswered “whys” that have piled up throughout my life.
By: Andrew O’Donnell, intern for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid
As someone currently attending community college, I can tell you firsthand about many of its benefits. Not only is community college significantly cheaper than four-year institutions and often much closer to home, it’s also a great place to begin your postsecondary education if you’re someone like me who was unsure of a specific program of study to pursue right after graduating from high school.
After Emancipation, formerly enslaved people had to make new lives for themselves in a world that was new to them in some respects. For too many of them, their new lives were much like their old: working for next to nothing on someone else’s farm or plantation. Some moved North for better opportunities, but regardless of locale, it became apparent that education was the only way to truly free oneself and ensure subsequent generations of better lives. This mindset became the mantra for many African-Americans in the early to mid-20th Century.
By: Kristen Donoghue, Chief Enforcement Officer, U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid
The U.S. government helps service members, veterans, and their family members (i.e., military-connected students) achieve the American dream through higher education, especially with two important benefit programs: (1) the Military Tuition Assistance (TA) program, which supports course work for active duty, National Guard, and Reserve Component service members; and (2) the GI Bill®, which supports post-service course work. These benefits can cover up to 100% of tuition and a living stipend at approximately 5,600 American colleges, universities, and career schools, giving those who served and their families the opportunity to build a better future through education.
This week we are celebrating the 1-year anniversary of the passing of the American Rescue Plan (ARP). The ARP has allowed schools and communities to secure funds to help combat the impacts COVID-19 has had on students, schools, and educators. It has also served as a catalyst for addressing preexisting gaps in the education system.
During the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Conference of Education in February we were able to catch up with some our nation’s superintendents whose school districts have directly benefited from ARP Funds. Here’s what they had to say about all the work ARP has allowed them to do for their schools, their teachers, and their students.
By: Rich Williams, Chief of Staff, Office of Postsecondary Education
Paying for higher education involves more than just completing the FAFSA® form and accepting financial aid. For most students, figuring out how to pay for college is the first major financial decision of their lifetimes—and the stakes could not be higher. A wrong choice can saddle students with higher college costs that follow them long into the future.
By Braden Goetz, OCTAE; Levi Bohanan & Sophie Maher, OESE
High school students are gaining new opportunities to participate in career and technical education (CTE) and prepare for in-demand jobs like teaching as a result of President Biden’s $122 billion American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER). High-quality CTE programs can boost school engagement, on-time graduation and academic learning by giving students hands-on opportunities to apply classroom-learned knowledge and skills. In the process, CTE can be a launch pad to in-demand high-quality careers that simultaneously address labor market needs.