More young people are graduating from high school today than ever before—and gaps in graduation rates are closing—even as standards are rising. The credit for these gains goes to educators, students, parents and community partners. Yet we know that, in today’s knowledge-based economy, a high school diploma isn’t enough. So while we should be encouraged by projections like the one in this year’s Grad Nation report, we know that more hard work remains to truly prepare all—not just some—students for success in college, careers and life. Education must be the equalizer that can help overcome the odds stacked against too many of our students.
As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to drive innovations in higher education and increase college completion, affordability and quality outcomes, the U.S. Department of Education today announced the availability of $60 million in Fiscal Year 2015 in the First in the World (FITW) program. FITW grants will fund the development and testing of innovative approaches and strategies to improve postsecondary education attainment. Of the $60 million available this year, the competition has a set-aside of $16 million for institutions designated as minority-serving institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“Through the First in the World program, the Obama Administration is calling on colleges and universities to help develop the most promising approaches to improve outcomes for students, particularly for those who are underrepresented, underprepared or from low income backgrounds,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.” We look forward to hearing from institutions as they seek to pioneer new and innovative ways to increase college success.”
The U.S. Department of Education awarded more than $24.8 million to 67 schools districts in 26 states across the country to establish or expand counseling programs. Grantees will use funds to support counseling programs in elementary and secondary schools. Specifically, the new Elementary and Secondary School Counseling grant awards will aid schools in hiring qualified mental-health professionals with the goal of expanding the range, availability, quantity and quality of counseling services. Parents of participating students will have input in the design and implementation of counseling services supported by these grants.
“School counselors are a vital resource for students and educators, and play a key role in creating safe and productive learning environments,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These grants will enhance school-based counseling programs, which have proven to be a great source of help for students and families with mental health and emotional issues.”
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the 51st class of U.S. Presidential Scholars, recognizing 141 high school seniors for their accomplishments in academics or the arts.
“Presidential Scholars demonstrate the accomplishments that can be made when students challenge themselves, set the highest standards, and commit themselves to excellence,” Duncan said. “These scholars are poised to make their mark on our nation in every field imaginable: the arts and humanities, science and technology, law and medicine, business and finance, education and government—to name a few. Their academic and artistic achievements reflect a sense of purpose that we should seek to instill in all students to prepare them for college, careers, civic responsibilities, and the challenges of today’s job market.”
The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, appointed by President Obama, selects honored scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals. Of the three million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 4,300 candidates qualified for the 2015 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams, and through nominations made by Chief State School Officers or the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts™ competition.
Shanna Peeples works at Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, Texas. Most of the students come from poor families. Some are refugees from East Africa — coming through the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.
The week’s news also includes this – the White House honored the national teacher of the year. She is Shanna Peoples. She works at Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, Texas. Most kids at that school are poor and many are refugees. Amarillo is popular for resettlement because feedlots and slaughterhouses provide jobs, but that reality also provides challenges for teachers like Peoples. Jennifer Schmidt reports.
JENNIFER SCHMIDT, BYLINE: When East African refugees began arriving at Palo Duro High School a few years ago, Shanna Peoples went online to learn more about them.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear what do you see?
I see a blue horse, a purple cat, and a new program — unveiled today by President Obama — with one goal in mind:
To put good books in the hands of low-income kids.
More specifically, $250 million worth of e-books available to young, low-income readers — free. The effort will work through a new app, being developed by the New York Public Library, that has the buy-in of all the major publishers.
“Children should not be unable to get reading materials because their parents don’t have money,” says Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster, which has offered up all of its titles for kids from 4 to 14.
How many different flavors of jam do you need to be happy?
In 2000, a famous experiment showed that when people were presented with a supermarket sampler of 24 exotic fruit flavors, they were more attracted to the display. But, when the sample included only six flavors, they were 10 times more likely to actually buy.
This experiment contributed to the literature of what’s known as “the paradox of choice.” Too many choices can lead to feelings of frustration, dissatisfaction and paralysis, which is especially bad in cases where not making a choice is the worst one of all.
Think, for just a moment, about the last job you applied for.
If you didn’t get the job (apologies), did you get an interview? If not, did you feel some hidden forces, beyond your control, working against you?
Perceived hiring biases against women working in science, technology, engineering and math have been around as long as women have been graduating from STEM programs. From 2008 to 2010, women received the majority of doctorate degrees in life and social sciences but only 32 percent of the open assistant professorships.
Now comes a study that offers something of a counter-narrative — that, given the chance, universities would rather hire women for STEM tenure-track positions.
A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Education brought by four of its contracted student loan debt collectors after the department decided not to award them additional business.
Judge Francis Allegra of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims tossed the lawsuits in a sealed order, court filings show. Most of the documents in the case are either secret or heavily redacted. The Huffington Post was unable to obtain a copy of the court order on Tuesday.
Coast Professional, Enterprise Recovery Systems, National Recoveries, and Pioneer Credit Recovery sued in March after the Education Department said it wouldn’t send them any more accounts under their current contracts. The Education Department said Feb. 27 that the four firms and West Asset Management had misled distressed borrowers “at unacceptably high rates.”
The U.S. Department of Education took additional steps today to protect students and taxpayers and crack down on abuses within the for-profit sector by continuing its enforcement actions against Corinthian Colleges Inc. After a comprehensive review, the U.S. Department of Education has confirmed cases of misrepresentation of job placement rates to current and prospective students in Corinthian’s Heald College system. The Department found 947 misstated placement rates and informed the company it is being fined about $30 million.
Specifically, the Department has determined that Heald College’s inaccurate or incomplete disclosures were misleading to students; that they overstated the employment prospects of graduates of Heald’s programs; and that current and prospective students of Heald could have relied upon that information as they were choosing whether to attend the school. Heald College provided the Department and its accreditors this inaccurate information as well.