Teacher-Powered Innovation: the Value of and Opportunity for Teacher Leadership in Schools and Policy

When we do everything right in schools, our students move closer to that peak on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – self-actualization. It sounds pretty awesome. I’d like to achieve self-actualization too. But when you’re a student facing poverty, racism, family trouble, or just life as a kid growing up, that peak starts looking like K2.

The question then becomes what changes can we make in our systems so that schools can support students in meeting their basic needs while still pushing them to make academic gains that will impact their future choices and opportunities? For me, answering that question starts with the people who are with the students every day – their teachers.

As a founding teacher on the Design Team for the pilot high school, Social Justice Humanitas Academy (SJHA) in Los Angeles, last week I was invited to join a small group of teachers and principals in a Tea with Teachers meeting with Secretary of Education John King to discuss the value of teacher leadership in schools and in educational policy-making. SJHA is a Teacher-Powered School, and as such is driven by teachers and their connection to students. The school was founded by a group of teachers who envisioned a school centered on building our students’ humanity through curriculum that is rigorous and relevant to our students.


Teachers discuss teacher leadership with Secretary of Education John King during a Tea with Teachers session.

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‘Place-based’ Work is Transforming Rural Kentucky So Students Don’t Have to Leave to Succeed

Cross-posted from Community of Practice.

While Sherry Scott was growing up in rural eastern Kentucky, she didn’t know a single person who went to college, and thought she had zero chances of ever doing so herself. When she was 13 years-old, Scott’s family left the impoverished area for better opportunities.

Community Solutions Pic

Megan Ward of Berea College’s Partners for Education staff helps a child use art to learn good tooth-brushing techniques, part of a collaborative effort between of the Jackson County Community Early Childhood Council and Berea College Promise Neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Beth Dotson Brown, Partners for Education at Berea College.

She went on to earn a master’s degree and now has a role in wide-spread efforts to transform the Appalachian region into one that holds promise for its families. Scott heads the Partners for Education team at Berea College, the lead applicant and now the lead agency for local efforts under several federal “place-based” programs, including Promise Neighborhoods, Performance Partnership Pilots and Full Service Community Schools. Through place-based programs, ED and federal partners work hand-in-hand with contacts in distressed communities throughout the U.S. to help them progress in education, as well as health, employment, safety and other interwoven factors that impact quality of life.

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Nature-Based Curriculum a Hit with Students and Staff Alike

Students gather around a tree as part of the school's nature-based curriculum

Students gather around a tree as part of the school’s nature-based curriculum

Environmental education is an integral part of everyday life at Redtail Ridge Elementary School in Minnesota’s Prior Lake-Savage area school district. On any given day you could find: math students using trees to study circumference, students using their senses to reinforce a lesson on adjectives, kindergartners sorting man-made verses natural objects, writing nature poetry, and investigating positive and negative numbers by recording the daily temperature.  Embedding environmental education into our daily routine is a reflection of the community that fills the building, viewing the outdoors as an extension of our classroom, and a constant effort to replace existing lessons with an environmental focus.

From a supportive administrator, to our diligent custodial staff, willing classroom teachers, and tireless support staff, we are all working towards our philosophy of using the environment to educate children. The willingness to help each other and draw on each other’s strengths is what makes us unique. At any time you might see a fifth grade classroom taking a kindergarten class snowshoeing and then the next day going again with a group of second graders.

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White House Science Fair Presents Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity For First-Generation Students

Pictured (Left to right): Melody Kwan , LMIT InvenTeam advisor and Spanish Teacher at Baruch College Campus High School; Stephen Mwringa; Amro Halwah; Si Ya (Wendy) Ni and Dr. Elisabeth Jaffe.

Pictured (Left to right): Melody Kwan , LMIT InvenTeam advisor and Spanish Teacher at Baruch College Campus High School; Stephen Mwringa; Amro Halwah; Si Ya (Wendy) Ni and Dr. Elisabeth Jaffe.

Opportunity is perhaps the greatest possibility of the American promise. For two New York City high school  students who came to America less than ten years ago knowing very little English, opportunity led them to the White House Science Fair where they presented their subway vacuum cleaner project to President Obama with their classmate Si Ya “Wendy” Ni, a first generation college student.

One of the students, Amro Halwah, immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 13. He started school in the U.S. as an 8th grader and is currently a senior at Baruch College Campus High School. When he was young, he hated learning because he viewed it as only memorizing facts that he promptly forgot after taking a test.

While in school in New York, however, he started down a different path. He participated in several hands-on projects that unleashed his creativity and gave him the opportunity to engage in independent learning. When he got the chance to join the L-MIT Baruch InvenTeam this year, his desire to learn and contribute to the invention of last year’s seniors really excited him.

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Visit Your Favorite Museum or Cultural Center on Museum Day Live!

Where will you be on Saturday, March 12, 2016? In honor of Women’s History Month, the Smithsonian Institute is hosting a special edition of its annual Museum Day Live! encouraging everyone, in particular, women and girls of color, to participate in a day of exploration, fun and hands-on learning. Hundreds of science centers, libraries, aquariums, libraries, zoos and museums will be opening their doors for free across the country to celebrate the theme “Inspiring Women and Girls of Color.”

This month, and all year, we recognize the importance of educating and supporting the educational attainment and advancement of our girls and women, in particular girls and women of color, around the nation. We also take this opportunity to celebrate the educational progress they continue to make. For example, from 2009 to 2012, the graduation rate at four-year colleges and universities increased by 0.9 percentage points for black women, 3.1 percentage points for Hispanic women, 2.7 percentage points for American Indian/Alaska Native women, and 2.1 percentage points for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women.

Yet, in spite of this tremendous progress, barriers continue to exist for girls and women of color. In order to help them reach their full potential, we know we must continue to invest in their education. Learning can and should take place across many contexts and formal and informal (or free-choice) settings such as summer camps, via the web, in afterschool programs, and at museums or science centers. Additionally, informal education providers are increasingly gaining recognition as key educational partners.

Access to a well-rounded, high-quality education and exposure to student-support services and informal-learning experiences that focus on supporting students’ social and emotional growth are critical components to ensuring their success. Museum Day Live! provides an opportunity for anyone to connect content that they learn in schools to their lives and communities – no matter where you live.

First Lady Michelle Obama has said “One visit, one performance, one touch, and who knows how you could spark a child’s imagination?” Join us for Smithsonian Day Live! and help expand the horizons of young people and encourage our girls and women of color and their peers to learn about the world around them, avenues of creativity, and arts and sciences while sparking their imagination. Find a participating institution in your community and reserve your spots by visiting www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/venues/museum-day-live-march-2016/.

If there is not a participating institution easily accessible, there are many virtual opportunities that you could engage with on that day. Further, you can check for updates on Twitter with @museumday and join throughout the day, by sharing your photos using #museumday and #ImagineHer.

To learn more and for a toolkit designed to help you spread the word, visit: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/museum-day-live-march-2016/registration/materials/

Maribel Duran is the Chief of Staff for the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics and Ellen Lettvin is the Robert Noyce Senior Fellow in Informal STEM Learning at the U.S. Department of Education

Igniting the Spark: the Love of Learning

This post is one in a series on ED Goes Back to School, a program that integrates ED employees into diverse classrooms.

We all know that ‘a-ha’ moment. You remember the teacher that made your world open up in new ways, or the moment you saw a child’s eyes light up in understanding. Love for learning starts early. To celebrate these everyday small moments of joy, the US Department of Education embarked on a week-long journey, visiting several Early Learning Programs in the DC metro area. Highlights below:

Place-Based Learning

ED staff visited different programs in the DC metro area, including Educare whose work with the homeless ties directly to the White House Place-based initiative pilot. Following the visit, staff from different program offices gathered to share their takeaways. Kimberlin Butler, an analyst with the Office of Innovation and Improvement, found that “talking to those communities about their early learning models and getting the leaders to be empathetic to the different situations students enrolled” underscores the importance of place-based learning.


ED was also able to visit CentroNía, an early learning program that teaches children in a dual-language English/Spanish Early Learning environment. The program uses a co-teaching model, with two teachers providing instruction in either Spanish or English. ED employees who visited observed that the program was not just teaching a second language, but bilingualism, as the school shared that many families speak both English and Spanish at home.

Global Competence

We live in an increasingly connected world. At School Within School, children maintained their community garden, infusing science into nurturing the environment. Rebecca Miller, who works in the International Affairs Office, shared a small moment of joy while climbing a staircase during her visit: “I ran into a music teacher, carrying a guitar…he met his students for music class and they sang the going up the stairs song.” SWS retweeted the video, with the hashtag “#nothing without joy”. This sums up what early learning is about: the openness of embracing all things.

The Power of Early Learning

ED Goes Back to School provided the opportunity for the Department of Education to connect their work to various innovative models of Early Learning. The consensus was that these visits gave us a better understanding of how Early Learning is at the ground level. Teacher Ambassador Fellow Meredith Morelle shared how “the Policy office is P-12 and the emphasis needs to be on the P part, not K or 1. It is important that policymakers see practice. As an educator, it is important to have an understanding of pre-k.”

Ultimately, after visiting and sharing their impressions, everyone agreed on the most important takeaway of their school visits: it takes hard work to educate all kids.

 Alicia Pérez-Katz is a 2015 Principal Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education.

Building Relationships to SHINE a Light on Chronic Absenteeism

reindeer throw (2)

Students have fun playing “reindeer throw” during the SHINE after school program.

Let’s face it, going to school isn’t always what a kid wants to do – especially when schoolwork is challenging. Having to read a textbook above ability level or take a times-table test on an empty stomach can be overwhelming. A kid would rather stay home and play video games. Wouldn’t you? Too frequently, though, parents let their child skip school thinking, “Its only one-day. What’s the big deal?” Many parents don’t realize, though, that school absence puts their child’s academics and educational future at risk.

What if a student could come to a place where he didn’t have those pressures? A place where someone helps him to improve his reading skills so he can read that textbook independently. A place where a hot dinner is served every night so he can focus on his academics without distracting hunger pangs. A safe place where he can play with his friends and still learn those darn times tables.

The Lehigh Carbon Community College SHINE (Students and Homes IN Education) after-school program aspires to be that place. At SHINE, we focus on working with families on the skill of educating children. Typically, children report to SHINE at the end of the school day and complete homework, get help with academics, work on STEAM projects, participate in physical fitness, or eat a meal.

In the summer, students are offered weekly home visits which allows families to get to know us and see how invested we are in their children’s success. Home visits also help us build vital relationships that enable us to call parents and have open conversations during the school year. And if attendance is poor, these relationships allow us to work with parents to solve the problem together.

Building relationships does take time and energy, but it pays off for students. When SHINE students are absent, they’ll often report first to me to let me know they’re there before even going to homeroom. I’ll see a head poke in my door in the morning to say, “Don’t worry, I’m back. My ear infection is gone.” The smile on their faces tells me that they are coming by, because they know I care.

In fact, students seem to track us down no matter where we are! Recently we had a little girl who was frequently absent, so we’d always remind her how much we missed her when we saw her. As I walked into the bathroom the other day, I heard a little voice say, “Hey Mrs. Kufro, I’m coming to SHINE today. Aren’t you happy?” It was the sweetest thing.

When you put your heart and soul into it, relationships are established. That’s how we create a place – a SHINE family – where everyone sees success.

Audra B. Kufro teaches third grade science at Mahanoy Area Elementary School, in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, and is a teacher with the SHINE After-School program through Lehigh Carbon Community College.

Hope for High Need Schools: Are We Listening?

I recently attended a Tea for Teachers with Acting Secretary John King, along with teachers from across the country who work to address Native American students’ unique needs. We were invited to introduce ourselves, including our tribal affiliation. As the introductions looped around the table, I was keenly aware that I have no tribal affiliation. I’m not even Native.

So, why am I here?

In South Dakota, many teachers ask the same question. In our high-need, reservation schools, we often have less than a single, certified applicant for each opening and find ourselves “getting by” with long-term subs much of the year. South Dakota salaries have vied for last place for decades, and our reservation schools aren’t “rural”; they’re “remote.”

More importantly, our Native students are taught by very few certified, Native teachers. They may have a local Lakota classroom aid helping out, or a volunteer Unci (Grandma) program, but the teachers are mostly white. Many of those teachers are asking, honestly, sincerely and with great love for their students, “Why am I here? I don’t know their stories; I fumble with their customs and their language. Why am I here instead of someone better suited to this community and these students?”


Educators discuss the unique needs of Native Americans students during Tea for Teachers gathering at ED.

At the Tea, we talked about certifying more Native teachers at the state and the National Board levels. We discussed language-immersion programs and curriculums embedded with cultural elements. We heard about models informed by traditional Native-teaching approaches. At the center was the idea of Self-Determination. South Dakota’s historically oppressed communities, still grappling with the audible echoes of U.S. “Kill the Indian to Save the Man” educational policies, need to be empowered now.

Why am I here? Partly because I want to stretch the typical one-year stint for a new teacher in a reservation school into two years… or five… or a lifetime of growing into the fabric of a community as authentic as pure-prairie soil or winter-blue South Dakota sky. But, first and foremost, I’m here to say we must listen

The dark history of colonialism begins and ends with non-listening. In our high-need schools, there is time for speaking, facilitating, nurturing, admonishing, researching, scaffolding, conferencing, and maybe even for testing… but none of it is worth one-allocated cent if it doesn’t begin with listening.

And so, this Tea for Teachers has given hope; staff at the Department of Education listened to these stories of our Native students and communities. Teach to Lead helped our WoLakota Project when someone said, “Hey… we ought to listen to teachers!” And after I returned to South Dakota from our Tea, I read words about the new, perfectly named Best Job in the World grants:

…a nationwide effort to dramatically transform the job of working in a high-need school in order to better attract and retain talented, committed and accomplished teachers…to support comprehensive, locally-developed, teacher-led efforts in our highest-needs schools.

Someone’s been listening.

Dr. Scott Simpson teaches South Dakota Indian Studies to teachers at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota, works with high-need schools, and is a Learning Specialist with Technology and Innovation in Education.

Teachers Campaign to Recover Love of Teaching

2014 National Teacher of the Year Sean McComb interacts with a student.

2014 National Teacher of the Year Sean McComb interacts with a student.

I learned a tough lesson my first year in the classroom – left to its own devices, my mind would focus with laser precision on my mistakes. Instead of celebrating the things that went well, I’d find myself sitting at my desk after dismissal stewing over a lackluster explanation, some mishandled mischief, or poor planning.

It’s good to be critical. It’s natural. In the big picture, it’s how we as humans evolved over the years. We’re the descendants of those cunning enough to survive long enough to have descendants themselves. But as a teacher, with all the challenges we face every day, an unchecked critical eye can become defeating.

A few weeks into that first year, I bought a fat stack of Post-it notes and started spending the first 10 minutes after school jotting notes to kids who had a good day, made a contribution, or conducted themselves with kindness. I chose to focus on the good, and it did me a world of good, too.

Last year I found myself, and many of my friends, caught up in the tempest surrounding the teaching profession. From viral resignation letters, to magazine covers, to court cases, our vocation seemed to be in everyone’s crosshairs. And for many, those narratives crowded out the joys, the laughs, the hard-fought victories, and the heart-wrenching challenges that give us such a deep love for teaching.

So last February a few friends and I decided to try to shine a light on our love for teaching. We asked our friends to join in. We also asked a few organizations to participate in the project. Those who were asked connected with others and pretty quickly there was a full-on campaign united by the #LoveTeaching hashtag. There were Twitter chats, and school “photo booths” and a flood of tweets and posts and pictures and blogs. Even Secretary Arne Duncan posted a video to say thank you and talk about what he loved about teachers. In the end, five million people interacted with the campaign—because, for all its challenges, there’s just so much to love about teaching.

This year, until Monday, Feb. 22, teachers – and friends – across the country are invited to join the #LoveTeaching campaign. I’ve used it as an opportunity to share a story about a student who changed my life. A Kentucky English teacher put together a list of twenty reasons she loves her work. What’s your story? Search the hashtag to gain inspiration from others, or just jump on and join in the love.

The teachers I admire start their day by thinking how they can do better for students. I urge you to take the opportunity to pause and remember the kids and colleagues, the personal champions and persistent challenges that make us #LoveTeaching.

Sean McComb is a high school English teacher in Baltimore, Maryland, and was the 2014 National Teacher of the Year.

One Step Forward: A National Summit on Teacher Leadership

An idea born of frustration from last year’s International Summit on the Teaching Profession came to fruition on February 5th and 6th. The first National Summit on Teacher Leadership was held in Washington, D.C., and for those in attendance there was an overwhelming sense that this is the right work at the right time. The Summit was another important step in the teacher leadership movement.

Educators who attended last year’s International Summit were disappointed that teacher representation and voice were sorely missing from many of the formal discussions that took place. We felt that if we wanted to move the profession forward, we needed to ensure that teacher voices were heard through the words of teacher leaders. We thought why not have a national summit on teacher leadership in the United States to raise these voices?

We presented the idea to the United States Delegation led by then Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, President of the National Education Association, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, and Executive Director of the Chief Council for State School Officers, Chris Minnich. They agreed and said they would commit to a summit.

Fast forward 11 months and the first National summit on teacher leadership took place in D.C. to great acclaim. Over 20 states sent practicing teachers, association leaders, and state policy makers to the summit where they heard from other states on the work they were all doing to promote teacher leadership. For two days, states worked together and made commitments to move forward with the implementation of teacher leadership policies and plans. This was not easy work because there was true collaboration taking place, which involved many hard conversations. It was truly amazing to see teacher leaders playing a lead role in this work.

At the end of the Summit each state made a commitment statement describing their next steps to keep the teacher leader movement going forward. There was palpable excitement in the room – from policy makers and teachers alike – as a result of sitting down together and, in some cases, even committing to host state summits.

In closing, Dr. Andy Hargreaves, the Chair of Education at Boston College, reminded participants of the many pitfalls associated with this type of endeavor. Don’t let the idea of teacher leadership get co-opted like the concept of professional learning communities, for starters. And don’t lose momentum that has been built throughout the Summit. His advice going forward: follow through with commitments, have short term plans, and share with each other.

We all know this work is hard but if we continue to meet, collaborate, and keep a solution-oriented mindset we can strengthen teacher leadership’s role in improving the lives of students. Frustration from last year’s International Summit led to this year’s National Summit which wisely included the many diverse voices of educators from across the country. There will inevitably be more missteps and frustrations, but it is exciting to think of the possibilities if we persevere and remain united in this very important cause.

Mark Sass teaches social sciences at Legacy High School in the Adams 12 School District in Colorado, and is a Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education.

Developing Young Agents of Change: Why I Teach in High-Need Schools

Former U.S. Department of Education Teacher Ambassador Fellow Geneviève DeBose reads with one of her students

Former U.S. Department of Education Teacher Ambassador Fellow Geneviève DeBose reads with one of her students

“The thing that made me change was the people that I know or see in Watts. The people in my hood is either gangbangers or crackheads and I don’t want to be neither.…I don’t want to be killed over some shoe or the way I look or the people that I hang out with.”

During my first year of teaching in 1999, I found this writing torn up and thrown in the trash. It was my student D’s response to the prompt, “What was a turning point in your life?” She decided not to turn it in, but instead to throw it away. Back then I didn’t recognize her response for what it was – a recognition of her own power, an opportunity to improve her neighborhood or a cry for help. And back then I probably didn’t recognize my own ability to support her development as a 6th grade change-maker. Nonetheless, I taped it back together and have kept it for the last 17 years as a reminder of why I teach in high-need schools.

I’ve always taught in high-need schools, and while I know that all students deserve great teachers, I feel strongly that my students need me most, and I need them. My students are my people. Many of us share a history of struggle as people of color in the United States. Me — an African American and Irish American woman. Them — Mexican and Central American, West African, Caribbean, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, African American, you name it.

I am a proud product of public schools and believe strongly that all students, regardless of their circumstances deserve access to an excellent education. By teaching in high-need schools, not only am I an agent of change, I also get to support my students in becoming agents of change – something very few of my teachers did for me. I left teaching for three years and realized almost immediately that the classroom is where I am of most service – and where I am happiest. Teaching brings me joy but teaching in high-need schools also grounds me in knowing that I am doing something transformative, not only for myself and my students, but for our country and our world.

I can’t deny that teaching in high-need schools can be tough. The social, emotional, and educational trauma that many of our students face greatly impacts their schooling and our teaching experiences. But the notion of what’s possible can outweigh what is. With time, collaboration, support, and relationships, my colleagues, my students, their families and I can thrive and collectively change our communities for the better.

I know that I can’t do this work alone. And 17 years ago, my student D knew that she couldn’t do it alone either. While I wasn’t sure how to best support D as a first-year teacher, the beauty of it all is that every single day I get to right that wrong. I get to shift students’ life trajectories by being a model of change and supporting them in becoming their own agents of change. Quite honestly, there’s no better place to be.

Geneviève DeBose, NBCT, teaches seventh grade Language Arts in the South Bronx in New York City. She was a 2011 Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education.

El presupuesto de educación para el año fiscal 2017 pide incrementar acceso, asequibilidad y graduación de la universidad

El presidente Obama ha dejado claro que en el último año de su mandato la educación seguirá siendo una prioridad, y saldrá adelante con iniciativas y fondos para que más personas obtengan un título universitario.

Como dijo en enero durante su discurso sobre el estado de la Unión, la nación ha hecho importante progreso en asegurar que más estudiantes se gradúen de secundaria con las habilidades que necesitan para tener éxito en la universidad, en sus carreras, y en sus comunidades. Pero persisten problemas, y tenemos que tomar soluciones audaces.

La universidad sigue siendo la mejor inversión que pueden hacer las personas para su futuro. Una buena educación es igual de importante para participar en la sociedad y salvaguardar nuestra democracia. Es por eso que todos, incluido las personas de bajos ingresos, poblaciones marginadas, estudiantes universitarios de primera generación, y adultos con empleos y familias, quieren una educación postsecundaria.

Esta Administración ha otorgado ayuda financiera como nunca antes a los estudiantes de educación superior. En 2014, el año más reciente del que se disponen datos, nuestro país vio la población más grande y diversa en nuestra historia de estudiantes matriculados en la educación superior. El número de estudiantes universitarios hispanos y negros en EE.UU. ha aumentado por más de un millón desde 2008.

Pero los obstáculos persisten para muchos estudiantes que dudan de asistir a la universidad debido al alto costo y un mercado universitario que puede ser confuso, especialmente para los estudiantes de primera generación. Además, solo alrededor del 60% de los que se matriculan en un programa de licenciatura obtienen su título dentro de seis años. Y al menos un tercio de los que se gradúan se toman más tiempo de lo debido, lo que significa mayores gastos para el estudiante y su familia.

Los prestatarios que no se gradúan tienen tres veces más riesgo de no pagar sus préstamos estudiantiles en comparación con los que sí se gradúan. Por esta razón, el presupuesto de 2017 propone reformas claves, proporciona ayuda institucional y estudiantil, y da incentivos para la obtención de un grado a tiempo o anticipado para que la universidad sea más económica, la ayuda estudiantil más accesible, y el pago de los préstamos sea más fácil. También se promueve la innovación y la protección financiera de los estudiantes y los contribuyentes. Las propuestas en el presupuesto incluyen:

Reducir drásticamente los costos educativos de los estudiantes y sus familias

  • El presupuesto pide fondos para la iniciativa America’s College Promise (ACP), una alianza con los estados para que los dos años de estudios en las universidades comunitarias sean gratis para los estudiantes responsables. Con financiación de $61 mil millones durante la próxima década, los estudiantes podrían terminar un grado de asociado o los dos primeros años de un título de cuatro años, que los prepare para el éxito laboral sin costo alguno al estudiante. ACP también proporcionaría subvenciones a las escuelas que dan apoyo a nuevos estudiantes de bajos ingresos, incluidos aquellos que se trasladan de otra universidad comunitaria. Los estudiantes podrían cursar los dos años de estudio en estas instituciones sin costo alguno o a costo muy reducido.
  • El presupuesto ofrece fondos para los estudiantes actuales y futuros del país con financiación máxima de las Becas Pell, que serán ajustadas a la inflación a partir del 2017 para asegurar que los fondos queden protegidos de la erosión de su valor en los próximos años.
  • Además de que la FAFSA estará disponible más temprano, como lo anunció el presidente Obama en septiembre de 2015, el presupuesto también simplificaría la FAFSA para eliminar preguntas onerosos e innecesariamente complejas para que sea más fácil para los estudiantes y sus familias acceder a la ayuda federal estudiantil y financiar su educación superior.
  • El presupuesto también crearía un fondo competitivo de $30 millones que sería otorgado a las universidades fundadas para los negros (HBCU) y las universidades que sirven a grupos minoritarios (MSI), para de tal manera alentar la graduación mediante estrategias que ayuden a estos grupos a graduarse y obtener un título.
  • El presupuesto propuesto por el presidente simplifica los planes de pago basados en los ingresos para limitar los pagos del préstamo a un precio razonable para los prestatarios, ayuda a los prestatarios a manejar su deuda con mayor eficiencia, y fortalece y simplifica los programas que perdonan los préstamos de los maestros.

Estimular y recompensar los buenos resultados de los estudiantes

  • Para apoyar y animar a los estudiantes a completar sus estudios en debido tiempo o antes de tiempo, el presupuesto incluye el programa Beca Pell para la graduación acelerada, que proporciona los fondos de la Beca Pell durante todo el año a los estudiantes que toman una carga completa de cursos, pero que ya han agotado su subvención existente.
  • El presupuesto proporcionaría $300 mediante un Bono Pell en Camino a los estudiantes que hacen progreso oportuno hacia su título universitario tomando por lo menos 15 horas crédito por semestre.
  • También proporcionará una tercera ronda de la Iniciativa Primeros en el Mundo con $100 millones para implementar y evaluar estrategias innovadoras y basadas en la evidencia que aumenten el éxito estudiantil, incluido $30 millones reservados para las instituciones HBCU y MSI. En 2014 y 2015, el Departamento vio notable interés en este programa, pero solo pudo financiar menos del 6 por ciento de todas las solicitudes recibidas.
  • El Bono de Oportunidad y Graduación Universitaria recompensaría a las instituciones que matriculan y gradúan a tiempo un número significativo de estudiantes de bajos recursos, y alentar a más universidades a mejorar sus resultados.
  • Y con planes para reformar la ayuda estudiantil ofrecida por las universidades, el presupuesto pide el financiamiento de las escuelas que proporcionan una educación de calidad a un precio razonable, especialmente para estudiantes de bajos recursos.

Ampliar las opciones de educación superior de los estudiantes

  • La Pell de Segunda Oportunidad que el presidente ha propuesto proporcionaría a los prisioneros que han cumplido su condena y están a punto reintegrarse a la sociedad con el apoyo necesario para enderezar sus vidas, ofreciéndoles acceso a los fondos Pell para que puedan estudiar y capacitarse en las habilidades que conducen a nuevas oportunidades y una vida estable.
  • Para complementar ACP, el presupuesto apoyará un Fondo de Formación Técnica de $75 millones que facilitará la creación y expansión de programas gratuitos de capacitación laboral rápida para ayudar a más trabajadores a obtener trabajos de alta demanda como la salud, fabricación e informática. Los departamentos de Educación y Trabajo colaborarán en el lanzamiento de este plan innovador.

En el siglo 21, las habilidades y la educación son indispensables para nuestro éxito como personas y como nación. El presupuesto del año fiscal 2017 aumenta la equidad y la excelencia en la educación superior, con propuestas ambiciosas para reducir los costos universitarios, promover nuevos enfoques y ampliar las prácticas probadas para servir mejor a los estudiantes y crear vías más amplias para todos, independiente de su origen o circunstancia, para que puedan alcanzar sus sueños y mejorar sus vidas.

Se puede obtener más información sobre el presupuesto de Educación aquí.

Melissa Apostolides forma parte del equipo para desarrollar conminaciones en la Oficina de Comunicaciones y Extensión del Departamento de Educación de EE.UU.

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