Since 1968, Congress has charged the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to administer the Civil Rights Data Collection, or CRDC, collecting information from public elementary and secondary schools and districts about equity in students’ access to education. The CRDC has collected information about student access to courses, teachers and other school staff, and positive school climates. These data provide crucial information to OCR and to school communities and researchers about students’ educational experiences.
By Amy Loyd, Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary
Lightning flashed above the mountains, brightening the rain-soaked desert as we drove into the Tohono O’odham Nation in Southwestern Arizona. The Nation’s 28,000 members live throughout a Tribal land base that comprises 4,460 square miles, roughly the size of Connecticut. The Nation invited Secretary Cardona to visit their Tribal college, Tohono O’odham Community College (TOCC), to learn about the essential role it plays in the community, and to get feedback on our Administration’s Build Back Better agenda.
By Levi Bohanan, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
Today, the U.S. Department of Education approved the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021’s Homeless Children and Youth Fund (ARP-HCY) State Plans for 15 states. These state plans represent commitments to utilizing the $800 million in funding in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) designated to identifying and supporting students experiencing homelessness and connecting them to wrap around services.
School psychologists are trained to wear many hats such as providing direct support and interventions to students, consulting with teachers, families, and other professionals, working with administrators to improve school-wide practices and policies, and collaborating with community providers to coordinate needed services. School psychologists strive to meet each student where they are emotionally and academically, and work with them to address needs and improve skills. This could include teaching social skills, conducting small groups targeting specific issues and practicing coping strategies, and working one-on-one with students who have more intensive needs. School psychologists also work with families to understand their child’s learning and behavior needs and assist them in navigating the special education process. They are regular members of school crisis teams and collaborate with school administrators and other educators to prevent and respond to crises.
Gun violence has become an all too common part of American school life. Yet the gun violence we often associate with schools, mass shootings that make headlines and capture the national psyche, are rare. While the possibility of mass shootings is a fear among educators, the reality is that many educators work in schools at risk of a more constant threat to their students – community violence. A 2020 GAO study found that most shootings that occur on school campuses are related to interpersonal conflict and occur outside the school building. Community violence is a persistent, daily threat in lower income and mostly of color neighborhoods that doesn’t receive the same level of attention and action that mass school shootings do.
Of all the traits of a strong school leader, one of the most important is listening to students. By addressing their concerns & suggestions, school leaders can build environment where students are seen & heard.
That’s what we found when ED recently visited Western Branch Middle School in Chesapeake, VA to interview Principal S. Kambar Khoshaba, recently named Virginia’s 2021 Outstanding Middle School Principal of the Year by the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals. As we talked with Dr. Khoshaba about his leadership style, we saw the pride he takes in helping to make Western Branch a place where everyone has a voice.
Ten years ago I was hired by a rural school district in Arizona to serve as Superintendent. In my first year, I was learning the intricacies of the superintendency, was responsible for mentoring a first-year principal, and was learning the roles of Business Manager and Federal Grants Director. Nothing in my educational background and coursework prepared me for the many hats that I would be required to wear. In fact, when my husband learned I would be responsible for managing an $8 million budget, he looked at me askance and said, “You can’t even balance your own checkbook!”
by North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) welcomed U.S. Department of Education (ED) leadership including Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary Staci Monreal, and U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) Director Andrea Suarez Falken, to Raleigh on Oct. 19, as part of ED’s annual Green Strides Tour. The three-day visit in the Tar Heel state honored past and present recipients of the ED-GRS recognition award. These schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions have received recognition for their progress in the three Pillars of ED-GRS. They each demonstrate efforts in all three of the following areas: 1) reducing environmental impact and costs; improving health and wellness; and ensuring effective environmental and sustainability education.
This past year-and-a-half challenged everyone on such a huge scale. And our students were among the hardest hit by the disruptions of the pandemic. Without in-person classes, Friday night football games, spring musicals, and so many other opportunities to develop deep and nurturing in-person relationships and make lasting memories in school, it was a challenge to create a strong sense of community. As a former administrator and teacher, I understand how important that feeling of togetherness is to achieving school success.
Of all the topics of conversation taking place in preparation for in-person learning none is more important than the topic of teacher and principal retention. Throughout the month of June, I experienced what I can only call a “retirement party circuit” as I bid yet another colleague farewell after a multi-decade career in education. These veteran teachers and administrators expressed a level of disdain for remote learning stating such an approach to teaching wasn’t what they were trained to do, nor did it satisfy their need to be in the classroom with students feeling the synergy that characterizes engaging learning. I cannot fault these educators for their decision to retire and many self-described themselves as having “done their duty” throughout the pandemic but could no longer maintain the stamina to meet the challenges the post-COVID-19 classroom will present. They were simply burned-out.
President Biden has a bold vision for the future of country in his Build Back Better agenda, and critical education investments like the free community college and advancing affordability proposals are about opening opportunity for all Americans. As we close out National Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s also a time to celebrate what these proposals would mean for Latino students trying to pursue a postsecondary degree or certificate.
By Ruth Ryder, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
Today, the U.S. Department of Education awarded $17 million to 27 grants representing 15 states through the Assistance for Arts Education (AAE) program. These grants were made to national nonprofit organizations, local school districts, colleges and universities, and other arts organizations to enrich the academic experience of and promote arts education for students, including disadvantaged students and students who are children with disabilities. The Arts play critical role in a child’s education. They allow students to become creative thinkers, to connect, design and apply their learnings which in turn prepares our children for the future workforce with the skills and capacity to think outside the box with creative solutions.