New Grant Awards for American History and Civics Education

Today, the U.S. Department of Education awarded three new grants under the American History and Civics Education’s Academies and National Activities programs to provide students greater opportunity to learn about the rich history of our nation and build the skills needed to fully participate in civic life. The American History and Civics programs enable institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, and other interested applicants to explore innovative and creative ways to support educators and the teaching of American history and civics to students. This program aims to develop more active and engaged citizens, but does not dictate or recommend specific curriculum, as these decisions are – and will continue to be – made at the local level. 

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Celebrating School Sustainability Achievements and Announcing the Green Strides Tour

Celebrating school sustainability achievements and announcing the green strides tour

By Andrea Suarez Falken, Director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program, ED’s Facilities, Health, and Environment liaison, and Director of the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees Award program

Responding to feedback from the 2020 ED-GRS cohort that a recognition award—without a recognition ceremony—doesn’t feel the same, we offered as much in-person recognition as we could for this year’s ED Green Ribbon Schools honorees. On Sept. 28, we recognized 27 schools, three early learning centers, five school districts, five postsecondary institutions, as well as three state education agency officials at a Washington, D.C., ceremony for their efforts to cultivate sustainable, healthy facilities, wellness practices, and authentic place-based learning. Prioritizing climate and sustainability in schools and school systems is central to President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda, which includes a $100 billion investment in rebuilding our nation’s public schools to create safe and healthy learning environments for all students.  

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American Rescue Plan Funding Supports Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Students: $186 Million in New Projects Announced

By Patrick Carr

Today, the U.S. Department of Education awarded 68 new grants totaling $185,511,391 million through the Alaska Native Education (ANE) and Native Hawaiian Education (NHE) programs. ANE grants were made to Alaska Native Organizations and entities located in Alaska that are governed predominately by Alaska Natives and support innovative projects that recognize and address the unique educational needs of Alaska Native children and adults. Similarly, NHE grants were made to Native Hawaiian educational organizations; Native Hawaiian community-based organizations; and public and private nonprofit organizations, agencies, and institutions with experience in developing or operating Native Hawaiian programs or programs of instruction in the Native Hawaiian language address a significant need to assist Native Hawaiians and to supplement and expand educational programs. The American Rescue Plan made available an additional $170 million to support these programs.

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Open Letter Sessions – Jonnai

To the educators who are preparing for this upcoming school year or those who have
already begun,

After a school year of uncertainty, this is a reminder that you are valid in your feelings
about this school year. Whether you are eager to begin or are still recovering from the
previous year, I want to encourage you to think back to your “why”. In the midst of it all,
it is easy to forget what brought us to this profession. We all have different stories that
led us to become educators. So throughout this school year, I challenge you to take a
moment and reflect back to the beginning of your story.

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Recognizing Inspiring School Employees for a Second Year

Even a pandemic cannot stop the arrival of year two of the newest recognition award at the U.S. Department of Education (ED).  Designed to shine a spotlight on good work and ignite more positive contributions, while engaging state and local stakeholders, the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award is kicking off its second award cycle, with nominations due to ED this fall. ED is also seeking peer reviewers to help select the single national honoree this winter. 

This award was inaugurated back in April 2019, when Congress passed the Recognizing Achievement in Classified School Employees Act, enabling ED to begin honoring one extraordinary education support professional annually.  The subsequent fall, ED officially launched the first award cycle.   

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Update on the Free Inquiry Rule

By Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D., Acting Assistant Secretary for Office of Postsecondary Education, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Higher Education Programs 

Protecting First Amendment freedoms on public university and college campuses is essential. Whether it is having the freedom to debate the issues of the day, to gather for expressive purposes, or to engage in protected religious practices, safeguarding First Amendment liberties for students, faculty and administrators serves us all. 

For some, expressing their faith is an important aspect of their identity as well as their college experience.  The United States Constitution provides strong protections for students to express and practice their faith on public college and university campuses.  In particular, the First Amendment requires that public colleges and universities not infringe upon students’ rights to engage in protected free speech and religious exercise, such as associating with fellow members of their religious communities and sharing the tenets of their faith with others.  

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Meeting the President’s Call to Support the Safe and Sustained Reopening of Schools

Meeting the president's call to support the safe and sustained reopening of schools

By the end of this week, more than 62 percent of students across the country will complete their first day of school. 

As a teacher, a principal, and a parent, I always loved those first few days – students seeing each other for the first time after summer break, getting to know their teachers, reading a book or participating in a club or a sport that sparked a new passion. 

But this year, the joy that students and educators are feeling as they return to in-person learning is mixed with uncertainty and a sense of urgency as a result of the pandemic. As educators, we know in our hearts how important in-person learning is for student success—even before the data emerged on the devastating impact of school building closures during the past 18 months.   

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Cumpliremos con el deseo del presidente de apoyar la reapertura segura y sostenida de las escuelas

Para fines de esta semana, más del 62 por ciento de los estudiantes de todo el país completarán su primer día de clases.

Como maestro, director de escuela y padre, siempre me han gustado los primeros días de clase, porque es cuando los estudiantes se ven por primera vez después de las vacaciones de verano, conocen a sus nuevos maestros, leen sus libros, y se unen a un nuevo club escolar o equipo deportivo.

Pero este año la alegría que normalmente sienten los estudiantes y educadores cuando regresan al aula está ensombrecida por las preocupaciones de la pandemia. Como educadores, entendemos muy bien lo importante que es el aprendizaje en el aula para el éxito de los estudiantes, incluso antes de tener los datos que demuestran el impacto devastador que ha tenido el cierre de las escuelas sobre los estudiantes en los últimos 18 meses.

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From Deficit Messaging to Asset Thinking: How Can Schools Frame Pandemic Learning & SEL?

By Tanasha Mahone

While districts plan and support the return for more schools implementing in person learning across the nation for the upcoming school year, the ongoing pandemic creates unforeseen challenges for schools. The meticulous rollout of safety plan guidelines and methods accommodating academic programming to meet the needs of school communities will require increased efforts of collaboration and discipline throughout the 2021 –2022 academic year and beyond. Embracing these challenges while sustaining work-life-balance for those in the education profession involves an immediate attention to self-care practices and high levels of flexibility and creativity.

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Top Five Takeaways for Supporting Teacher Leadership

By Meghan Everette, School Ambassador Fellow

Research shows that teachers who identify as leaders are more likely to stay in the profession longer and have a greater impact on student achievement. Teacher turnover and shortages in certain subjects and geographic areas have been an ongoing concern, and there are fears this shortage will continue to spread throughout the country. Recruiting more teachers can’t offset turnover alone, so retaining teachers is important. We know the value of experienced teachers and districts saves money in onboarding and training costs when they are able to keep teachers in the profession. Teacher leadership fosters collaboration, excitement about the profession, increases teachers’ skills, and benefits communities. Donna Harris-Aikens, Senior Advisor for Policy and Planning, met with teacher leaders to talk about the kind of experiences that foster and support teacher leaders in the classroom and throughout their educator networks. Here are the top five takeaways from teachers across the country on engaging and supporting teacher leaders.

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New Efforts to Increase Access to Pell Grants for Incarcerated Students

By: Amy Loyd, Acting Assistant Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Strategic Initiatives, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona recently invited students who had attended college-in-prison programs to share their experiences. Their stories were moving; all of the students who attended the virtual roundtable told the Secretary that they truly realized their potential while participating in education while in prison, thanks in large part to the efforts of educational institutions that offered them a second chance. Today, those students have rewarding careers and full lives. Most are also actively engaged, in one way or another, in ensuring that people who are currently incarcerated received a second chance just like they did. Postsecondary educational programs offered in prisons give students who are incarcerated new opportunities to improve their education, obtain employment, reconnect with family, and re-engage with their communities.

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