Exemplary Student Art and Writing Honored at U.S. Department of Education

Scholastic, Association of Art Museum Directors, Encourage Students’ Education Through the Arts

The braces aren’t immediately detectable, tucked inside the pant legs of their owner, 17-year-old Tim Farmer. They are a vital part of Tim’s life, however, and are the focus of his photograph and essay on display at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Tim travelled recently from Bentonville, Arkansas, to attend a joint celebration at ED of exceptional student art and writing. Some of it, like Tim’s, came to ED from 11 museum members of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), which views art education and the promotion of student art as central to its and its members’ mission; others won top honors in the national Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition. On hand for the art exhibit opening were student artists and writers from across the country, their families, arts educators and leaders, congressional staff, and ED staff.

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#RethinkSchool: iLEAD Academy Students Take the Lead in Northern Kentucky

“Strangely, I’ve started a school, and I am not an educator,” said Alicia Sells, founder of iLEAD Academy, a STEM high school in northern Kentucky.

Sells’ background is in public policy. She noticed that neighboring Kentucky school districts of Gallatin, Carroll, Henry, Owen and Trimble did not offer a dedicated STEM program and, as a result, many students’ needs were not met in their preparation for the workplace.

iLEAD Academy is in session as students receive instruction, have discussions, and create in the maker spaces. (Photo credit: Alicia Sells)

Robert Stafford, superintendent of Owen County Schools, is the only current superintendent among the five districts who was present at the creation of iLEAD Academy. “When we initially got together – the five districts – we wanted to offer a really robust STEM program in engineering. It was driven by Alicia [Sells] pulling us all together to create the iLEAD Academy,” Stafford said.

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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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ED’s Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives Hosts Opioid Prevention Listening Session

In 2016 alone, 42, 249 Americans died of opioid overdoses.  President Donald J. Trump declared the nation’s opioid crisis a public health emergency in October 2017 as the crisis continued to persist.  More than 300,000 Americans have died from overdose since 2000 and this public health emergency has had a profound effect on students and families.  Opioid addiction and overdose has been coined the “crisis next door” as it plagues American communities from cities to suburbs and rural areas.  On October 2, 2018, the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives (CFOI) hosted an opioid prevention listening session with faith leaders who work with students in opioid abuse prevention and recovery to educate and engage stakeholders.

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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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Sustainable School Successes in the “Show-Me” State

Imagine asking a group of urban students how they upcycle. I assumed I would get answers such as, ‘We keep scrap paper and use it for other projects’ or ’We reuse cardboard paper towel inserts for various projects in our classes’. However, after participating in this year’s “Living School Grounds” 2018 Green Strides Tour in St. Louis, Missouri and seeing the innovative efforts of nine unique schools, I have a new understanding of what it means to be green.

Each of the schools we visited on the 2018 Green Strides Tour demonstrated progress in the three Pillars of ED-GRS: 1) sustainable facilities and grounds, 2) health and wellness and 3) environmental and sustainability learning. These award Pillars are excellent areas to tackle if our overarching aims are to advance student and community engagement; reduce school operating costs and improve health.

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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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National Apprenticeship Week: The Time to Rethink Apprenticeships is Now

In June of 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order titled, “Expanding Apprenticeships in America.” This order called for the creation of a special Task Force to identify strategies and proposals to promote apprenticeships in the United States. To meet this challenge, Department of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta brought together representatives from companies, labor unions, trade associations, educational institutions and public agencies. On May 10, the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion submitted a report to the President that provided a strategy to create more apprenticeships in the United States through an Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship model.

The centerpiece of the proposal is to build on the traditional registered apprenticeship concept by creating a pathway to new, industry-recognized apprenticeships. The final report lays out that proposal as the first step toward the goal of expanding apprenticeships broadly over the next five years. Secretary DeVos helped lead the Task Force, saying, “Apprenticeships give students proven and meaningful ways to gain skills and kickstart fulfilling careers…We must continue our efforts to strengthen workforce readiness and increase the number of pathways available to students after high school.”

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Succeeding Globally Through International Education and Engagement

#CTEGlobalized panel discussion on the intersection of Career and Technical Education and Global and Cultural Competencies. From left: Maureen McLaughlin, Senior Advisor and Director of International Affairs, U.S. Department of Education; Scott Stump, Assistant Secretary, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education; Mauro Moruzzi, Ambassador, State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, Switzerland; Robert Burch, Acting Director, Office of Education, Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and Environment (E3), USAID; and Stephanie Zhang, Junior, Fashion Institute of Technology, and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) Alumna.

Each year in November, we pause to celebrate International Education Week (IEW), a joint initiative of the U.S. Departments of State and Education. This week recognizes the important role education plays in connecting us across the globe and highlights the benefits of international education and the exchange of ideas, cultures and languages.

On this occasion, the U.S. Department of Education has updated its international strategy, Succeeding Globally Through International Education and Engagement, which reaffirms our commitment to preparing our students for an interconnected and competitive world. It lays out the three key objectives of our international work: increasing global and cultural competencies for all students, learning from and with other countries to strengthen U.S. education, and engaging in education diplomacy.

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School Principals at Work—Sage Advice for New Principals

Principals lead schools in preparing students for successful lives.  They are expected to be leaders and guide administrators through vision, instructional leadership, data analysis and planning.  It seems pretty clear and defined, right?  Yet, most often, if you ask veteran principals if they were prepared to become a principal, they will say “I thought I was until I found myself sitting in that chair.”  That answer doesn’t mean they weren’t adequately trained and didn’t have sufficient teaching experiences or internships.  It simply means comprehending the significance and complexity of the principalship isn’t something you can fully appreciate until you have walked in the shoes of the principal.

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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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