Education Department Awards $270 million for 968 Student Support Services Program Projects to Help Students Succeed in Higher Education

The U.S. Education Department today announced the award of $270 million to 968 institutions of higher education to provide thousands of students with academic and other support services they need to succeed in college.

The grants are aimed at helping increase the number of low-income college students, first-generation students and those with disabilities to successfully complete a program of study at the postsecondary level.

“Every student has the right to an equal opportunity to learn and succeed in college,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “These grants provide critical support to students who can benefit from extra help and encouragement along their college journey, enabling them to reach their personal goals and contribute to the economic vitality of our nation.”

Full story of student support services program at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Approves ESEA Flexibility Renewals for 5 States, Puerto Rico

Building on the significant progress seen in America’s schools over the last six years, the U.S. Department of Education announced today that Delaware, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Puerto Rico have each received continued flexibility from provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

These states and Puerto Rico are implementing comprehensive state-designed plans to ensure student success and a continued commitment to college- and career-readiness for every student.

“The last six years have seen dramatic progress for America’s school children. The high school dropout rate is down, and graduation rates are higher than they have ever been,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “As a result of our partnerships with state and district leaders to couple flexibility with reform, we are seeing remarkable strides and bold actions to improve student outcomes. States, districts, principals and teachers are showing incredible creativity in using different means to achieve the same goal – getting every student in America college- and career-ready.”

Full story of approval of ESEA at ed.gov

U.S. Education Department Reaches Agreement with Chicago Public Schools to Increase Athletic Opportunities for Girls to Comply with Title IX

The U.S. Department of Education today announced that its Office for Civil Rights has reached an agreement with the Chicago Public Schools to ensure that Illinois’ largest school district complies with Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.

OCR’s investigation revealed significant disparities between the enrollment of female students and their participation in high school interscholastic athletics at the majority of district high schools. OCR determined that 6,200 additional athletic participation opportunities would be available if girls’ enrollment and participation were proportionate.

“With this resolution agreement, the district has committed to provide, on a school by school basis, an equal opportunity for high school girls to participate in interscholastic athletics at all 98 high schools,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “I am delighted that the new accountability measures put in place by the district, including a new Title IX Sports Compliance Coordinator, new sports participation database, and new website that provides a description of sports offerings at each high school and a process for students to request additional sports opportunities, will help ensure equal athletic opportunity for another 6,200 Chicago girls and equal opportunity in school for all Chicago students.”

Full story of public school athletic opportunities at ed.gov

Obama Administration Expands Efforts to Help Americans Manage Student Loan Debt

Continuing its work to make student loan debt more manageable, the U.S. Department of Education today announced its plans to provide an additional six million federal loan borrowers access to student loan payments capped at 10 percent of income.

Last year, as part of his year of action to expand opportunity for all Americans, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department to propose regulations to ease the burden of student loan debt by expanding repayment options available to borrowers and building awareness of income-driven repayment plans.

“A college education is one of the most important investments that Americans can make in their futures. Unfortunately, for too many hardworking families, it feels like a higher education is simply slipping out of reach,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This proposal is an investment in our economy’s future that provides targeted benefits to even more borrowers, so they can stay current on their loans and furthers our commitment to lifting the burden of crushing student loan debt.”

Full story of options to manage student loan debt at ed.gov

A Phys Ed Teacher Battles Tight Budgets And Childhood Obesity

First rule of Brinton Elementary School run club: Keep those legs moving. Second rule of run club: Have fun.

For 13-year-old Kaprice Faraci and her sister, Kassidy, inspiration to keep moving struck one after school afternoon in the third grade. Video games and TV bored the twins. They were outside when they spotted a small pack of children chugging down their street.

“We saw some girls running around the school in the neighborhood and we were like, ‘Hey, we wanna do that!’ ” Kaprice says. She’s wearing a pink tank top with the words “Yeah I run like a girl, try to keep up!”

“It took a lot of effort to start and push ourselves, but she was really encouraging and helped us gain more confidence to run a 5K race at the end of the season.”

Full story of phys ed teacher and his obesity battle at NPR

Fact Sheet: Obama Administration Increases Accountability for Low-Performing For-Profit Institutions

Over the past six years, the Obama Administration has taken comprehensive action to tackle one of the biggest problems in higher education: abusive practices in the career college industry. Today marks a milestone in that fight, as the Administration’s signature effort to protect students and taxpayers – the gainful employment regulations – go into effect, strengthening oversight that will end the flow of federal student aid to career training programs that leave students buried in debt with few opportunities to repay it. In addition, as part of the Department’s work to call for shared responsibility in holding colleges accountable, states now must meet minimum requirements in approving institutions that operate in their state and make sure students have a system through which they can file complaints.

“The clock is ticking for bad actors in the career college industry to do right by students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “We know many have taken steps to improve or to close programs that underperform, but we believe there is more work to be done across the board so students get what they pay for: solid preparation for a good job.”

Full story of low-performing for-profit institutions at ed.gov

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan Announces a Set of Rights to Help Parents Seek High-Quality Education for Their Children

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today released a set of rights that outlines what families should be able to expect for their children’s education.

“I want to describe educational rights that I firmly believe must belong to every family in America — and I hope you’ll demand that your leaders in elected or appointed offices deliver on them,” Duncan said during a speech to the 2015 National Parent Teacher Association Convention and Expo in Charlotte, North Carolina. “They come together as a set of rights that students must have at three pivotal stages of their life, to prepare them for success in college and careers and as engaged, productive citizens.”

To help prepare every student for success in life, families have the right to:

  • Free, quality preschool;
  • High, challenging standards and engaging teaching and leadership in a safe, supportive, well-resourced school; and
  • An affordable, quality college degree.

Full story of helping parents finding education for kids at ed.gov

Education Department Appoints Special Master to Inform Debt Relief Process

As a next step to provide students who attended Corinthian Colleges the debt relief they are entitled to, Under Secretary Ted Mitchell announced today that he has appointed Joseph A. Smith, a distinguished advocate for consumers and taxpayers, as a Special Master to guide a fair, efficient process.

In addition to advising the Department on issues related to Corinthian, Smith will help develop a broader system to aid students at other institutions who are seeking debt relief of their federal Direct Loans because they believe they were defrauded.

“The Department’s aim is to make the process of forgiving loans efficient, transparent, and fair—and to ensure students receive every penny of relief they are entitled to under law,” said U.S. Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell. “This is uncharted territory for the Department, and we are glad that Mr. Smith will be helping us. He brings tremendous experience to this process, and is committed to working on behalf of students. He will be critical to helping us develop a broader system that will support students at other institutions who believe they have a defense to repayment.”

Full story of special mastger on debt relief process at ed.gov

A Visit From Kendrick Lamar — Best Day Of School Ever?

At around midday Monday at High Tech High School in North Bergen, N.J., about 40 students are crammed into a small classroom, anxiously waiting for Kendrick Lamar to walk into the room.

He glides in with crisp white kicks, a grey long-sleeve shirt, and hair twisting every which way. The 27-year-old rapper has a broad smile on his face. He seems almost as excited as the students, who just might be having their best day of school … ever.

Lamar is on top of the rap game at the moment. His latest album, To Pimp a Butterfly,came out earlier this year and debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s albums chart. It’s a complex, multilayered piece of work that wrestles with themes around blackness and beauty.

Full story on star visiting high school at NPR

From ‘Dropout Crisis’ To Record High, Dissecting The Graduation Rate

In his State of the Union address in January, President Obama had some sure-fire applause lines: “More of our kids are graduating than ever before” and “Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high.”

Which raised some interesting questions: “Is that really true?” and “Why?” and “How do we know?” and “So what?”

A seed was planted that grew into our project this week examining that number. Our reporting shows many of the individual stories behind a single statistic: 81 percent, the current U.S. graduation rate.

But in the course of pulling this project together, our team fell into a rabbit hole over something that doesn’t often get attention: the origin of the statistic itself. It turns out to be a fascinating story, and not just for data wonks. It’s a story of collaboration across the political aisle, heroic efforts and millions of dollars spent by state governments, and dogged researchers uncovering new insights that arguably changed the lives of tens of thousands of young people.

Full story on the dropout crisis at NPR