One of the most critical challenges illuminated by the recent period of emergency remote learning has been providing access to reliable, high-speed internet and connected devices to facilitate everywhere, all-the-time learning. Data clearly show the lack of these essential technologies impact communities of color and low-income communities to a disproportionate extent. As schools recover from the pandemic, several federal agencies and the Office of Educational Technology (OET) are stepping up to provide resources to close the digital divide.
This is our moment to truly reimagine education. This is our moment to lift our students, our education system, and our country to a level never before seen. As the great Congressman Lewis said, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”
-Secretary Cardona’s Vision for Education in America (2022)
Imagine a high school in which every single student is energized, excited, and engaged in powerful learning that connects them to their communities, nurtures their career aspirations, and provides them with a head start on college. These students are thriving in rigorous academics, earning several college credits before graduating from high school—including their first college math and English classes, and two classes connected to their possible future careers. These students, along with their families, receive personalized and ongoing career and college advising and navigation supports so that they make informed decisions about the classes they take, the pathways they pursue, and the goals they set for their lives.
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.
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.
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.
A 2015 Presidential Executive Order expanded the Presidential Scholars award to recognize students on the basis of outstanding scholarship, demonstrated ability, and accomplishment in career and technical education (CTE) fields. February is CTE Month, and in the spirit of celebrating the unique and valuable opportunity CTE provides, we checked back in with a few of the 2016-2018 Presidential Scholars in CTE to learn more about where their educational journey has led them.
This week, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) approved all remaining American Rescue Plan Act of 2021’s Homeless Children and Youth Fund (ARP-HCY) state plans. With today’s approval of Mississippi’s state plan, all 52 ARP-HCY state plans are approved by the Department. The $800 million in funding provided by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) will continue to identify and support students experiencing homelessness and connect them with necessary resources and supports, and work to enable them to attend school and fully participate in school activities.
By Maria Rowan, Education Program Specialist, OESE, Disaster Recovery Unit
Since 2017, over 300 presidentially declared major disasters have occurred across all 50 states and all U.S. territories. In 2021 alone, the U.S. experienced 56 major natural disasters in the form of fires, floods, hurricanes, mudslides, tornados, and severe storms. Whether we witness the aftermath first-hand in our own communities or through our work with affected schools, we know disasters like these can negatively impact the emotional, academic, financial, and physical well-being of students. In 2018, to better assist schools in dealing with impacts of natural disasters ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education formed a Disaster Recovery Unit (DRU) with the goal of increasing resources dedicated to education disaster recovery efforts.