Thursday, October 21, 2010

President Obama Signs Executive Order On Education and Hispanics

In a ceremony in the East Room today, President Obama will sign an Executive Order to renew and enhance the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics so that it better serves communities across the country by engaging them in the process of improving the education of Latino students, who represent 1 of every 5 students in our nation’s schools.

The new Executive Order is based on feedback gathered by the Initiative in more than 100 community conversations across the country with experts in education, community leaders from more than 30 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and from comments from more than 10,000 Americans on how to develop real solutions to the challenges confronting the Hispanic community in education.

The signing ceremony follows a National Education Summit and Call to Action hosted by the U.S. Department of Education that began on Monday and brought together experts and community leaders from around the country on issues ranging from early childhood learning to higher education.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Community Colleges: The Gateway to Success

Community colleges have never been more important. They are educating the workforce of the future—the radiologic technicians; the registered nurses; the installation experts on solar and wind power; the IT and cyber-security technicians; the displaced workers in need of retraining and new careers; and scientists and other professionals.

President Obama set a goal that the United States will once again having the highest college attainment rate in the world by 2020. If we are to meet that goal, community colleges must lead the way. The math is stark. According to our projections, five million of the eight million additional college graduates needed to meet the 2020 goal will be community college graduates. All of higher education must contribute to reaching this goal. But community colleges will be the linchpin.

The Obama administration has committed unprecedented federal support for community colleges, but the financial pinch on community colleges is brutal—and it is unlikely to fade anytime soon. At the same time, full-time enrollment at community colleges increased nearly 25 percent in the two-year period from 2007 to 2009. Most revenue for community colleges comes from the states—and state revenue shortfalls stemming from the recession are making it tougher and tougher for community colleges to fulfill their promise of open door enrollment policies.

Yesterday’s summit was a beginning point, not an end point. We challenged those at the summit to replicate and take to scale the outstanding examples of community colleges. We have never before had more examples of success of community colleges boosting transfer and graduation rates with a certificate or degree; of schools building partnerships with industry that lead to real jobs; and of effective remedial instruction and online learning. But our students and our nation need success to be the norm, not a sometimes-thing.

In the years ahead, the overarching aim for community colleges must be dramatically boosting college completion and success. This is not about tinkering; it’s about transformation. This is not just about getting more students to enroll; it’s about getting more students to graduation day. To meet the President’s 2020 goal, we project that all institutions of higher education will need to increase their college attainment rates by 50 percent over the next decade.

At present, only one in four community college students earns a degree or certificate, or successfully transfers to universities for their baccalaureate degrees. That has to change if our nation, our communities, and our students are to thrive and remain competitive in the knowledge economy.

For the sake of our students and our nation, let us work together to strengthen community colleges. Let us build the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world, and let us nurture the citizens of tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How Modern Technology Can renovate Education

At New Salem-Altmont High School, Secretary Duncan and Representative Earl Pomeroy watched as students attended an anatomy class where a lead instructor teaches students in five schools at once through satellite television. It is one way the school is using technology to overcome distance and increase access to quality instruction. The video technology empowers the different classrooms to see and hear one another, and students can interact with the teacher and one another.

The program is available to even more communities, preparing students for college and careers in places where certain courses may not be available otherwise, given the struggle to find science teachers in North Dakota as it is nationwide. This distance learning classroom is one of many innovative approaches rural schools are using to boost learning and accelerate achievement. 

Secretary Duncan recognizes that small towns and rural schools face unique challenges and unique opportunities. They may have difficulty recruiting and retaining great teachers and offering a diverse array of courses, but the close-knit nature of their communities enables them to adopt changes quicker, get speedy approval to expand or replicate successful programs, and deliver more personalized instruction than in most urban districts.

The Obama administration’s proposal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act would reauthorize the Rural Education Achievement Program and other programs that support reform in rural schools. Representative Pomeroy has introduced a bill to reauthorize REAP. The Department makes sure the federal government better supports schools in rural areas by promoting the use of technology to deliver content, giving schools and communities support for programs that meet their specific local needs, and improving technical assistance to ensure that rural districts aren’t disadvantaged in competitive programs.

Secretary Duncan challenged his audience at New Salem-Altmont High School to be a part of the solution. “I want to challenge you to think about what else can be done at the local level to prepare all students to be career-and college ready, to prepare all students to have the skills necessary to succeed in the global economy of the 21st century. … The challenges facing our small-town districts and schools are considerable, but so is the opportunity to reshape the status quo for the better for our children.”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Best Ideas for studying abroad

The Institute of International Education's IIE Passport — search for learning opportunities to match the needs and interests you define.

The Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) is a private, not-for-profit organization that identifies reputable international youth exchange programs, provides leadership and support to the exchange and educational communities, and promotes the importance and educational value of international youth exchange. CSIET publishes an annual Advisory List of organizations that have been evaluated and deemed to meet CSIET standards.

The Institute of International Education administers the National Security Education Program (NSEP) to provide American undergraduates with the resources and encouragement they need to acquire skills and experience in countries and areas of the world critical to the future security of our nation.

The International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) is a membership organization of nearly 220 higher education institutions in the United States and 35 other countries that are committed to international exchange.

Mobility International USA (MIUSA)'s mission is to ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities in international exchange and development programs. With support from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, MIUSA serves as the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE).

Monday, October 4, 2010

Department Awards More Than $141 Million to State Agencies to develop College Access

The U.S. Department of Education today announced the award of more than $141 million from the College Access Challenge Grant Program to 50 states, five territories, the District of Columbia and the Republic of Palau. The program aims to increase college access for low-income students and help them complete their postsecondary education. 

Grantees are authorized to implement an array of activities and services, such as:

• Providing information to students and families on postsecondary education benefits, opportunities, planning and career preparation, financing options, financial literacy and debt management;

• Implementing professional development for guidance counselors at middle and secondary schools, and financial aid administrators and college admissions counselors at institutions of higher education, to improve such individuals' capacity to assist students and parents; and

• Offering need-based aid to students and repayment or cancellation of student loans, or lowering of interest rates for borrowers who are employed in a high-need geographical area or a high need profession.

You can find abstracts for all the FY 2010 grant awards on the CACG Web site,