The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it has not only fulfilled but surpassed President Trump’s directive to invest $200 million in high-quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), including computer science, education. In total, the Department obligated $279 million in STEM discretionary grant funds in Fiscal Year 2018.
“It’s important that all students have access to a high-quality STEM education,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said. “These discretionary grant programs and this Administration’s increased focus on STEM will help ensure our nation’s students are exposed to STEM early in their lifelong education journeys and will have the tools needed for success in the 21st century economy.”
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Education is a top issue in the midterms
From the 36 gubernatorial races to some key state congressional races, education will be a major issue on Election Day. We’ve reported previously on how a record number of educators who are themselves running. There were teacher walkouts in six states this year. That issue alone has gotten people mobilized.
There’s something else that’s bringing education to the midterms: Betsy DeVos, the polarizing education secretary.
She has been mentioned in $3 million worth of political TV ads and dozens of Facebook ads, according to a new analysis by Politico. One analyst called her “shorthand” for “a lot of Trump administration bad stuff.”
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today recognized 349 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2018. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.
“I’m pleased to celebrate with you as your school is named a National Blue Ribbon School,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a video message to the honorees. “We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives. Congratulations on your students’ accomplishments and for your extraordinary commitment to meeting their unique needs.”
The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.
The new school year marches on, and so does our weekly roundup.
Tropical Storm Florence closes schools in the Carolinas
Rain measured in feet, not inches. Storm surges and power outages are the reality of this huge, slow-moving storm. Schools were closed Friday across coastal North Carolina and South Carolina. In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district, leaders made the controversial choice to keep nearly 150,000 students home under blue skies on Thursday to prep some schools as shelters.
DeVos loses court case on borrower forgiveness
A federal judge ruled this week that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ delay of a key Obama-era student borrower protection rule was unlawful. The judge is expected to order a remedy next week.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos earlier this week visited with sixth through eighth grade girls participating in the Smithsonian’s “She Can” STEM Summer Camp to highlight the exciting opportunities available in STEM fields. The camp, which was open to Washington, D.C. area girls who attend Title 1 Schools, doubled in size with support from the Department of Education. President Donald J. Trump donated his second quarter salary to the Department of Education to fund a STEM-focused camp.
At the camp, students learned about the science of flight and were exposed to a wide array of aviation-related activities and career paths. During the Secretary’s visit she worked with a group of girls to build and fly their own drones, was a passenger in an FAA-certified flight simulator and toured the Boeing Aviation Hangar.
From the policy of separating immigrant families, to limiting the power of labor unions, to naming the next justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, this summer the DeVos family name has been all over the news.
Over the years, the parents, in-laws and husband of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have given hundreds of millions of dollars to conservative causes. And many of those causes are front and center of policy initiatives and goals of the Trump administration right now.
Those foundations include the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation (founded by the education secretary and her husband); the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative (formerly the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation), founded by Betsy DeVos’ in-laws; and the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, founded by her parents.
WASHINGTON – The Institute of Education Sciences today released the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), commonly referred to as the “Nation’s Report Card”. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued the following statement in response:
“The report card is in, and the results are clear: We can and we must do better for America’s students. Our nation’s reading and math scores continue to stagnate. More alarmingly, the gap between the highest and lowest performing students is widening, despite billions in Federal funding designated specifically to help close it.
“One bright spot in today’s report is Florida, where Sunshine State students are bucking the national trend, showing significant improvement in 4th and 8th grade math and in 8th grade reading. Both low and high performers in Florida demonstrated that improvement, again bucking the national trend and narrowing the achievement gap.
Today U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced full forgiveness of the hurricane relief loans provided to four Historically Black Colleges and Universities after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast in 2005.
“This additional disaster relief will lift a huge burden and enable the four HBCUs to continue their focus on serving their students and communities,” said DeVos. “This relief provides one more step toward full recovery.”
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 made funds available to fully forgive the loans of Dillard University, Southern University at New Orleans, Tougaloo College and Xavier University of Louisiana under the HBCU Hurricane Supplemental Loan program.
Addressing the nation’s chief state school officers, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos delivered some “tough love” regarding progress under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA is the bipartisan education legislation passed by Congress in 2015 that returned power over education back to states.
DeVos’ remarks came after her review and approval of a majority of states’ ESSA plans. The law requires a federal review to ensure compliance with the law but then gives latitude to the states to determine how best to ensure educational success. DeVos challenged the chiefs to embrace the flexibility afforded them by ESSA and innovate on behalf of their students. “Just because a plan complies with the law doesn’t mean it does what’s best for students,” said DeVos.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Education today released the Administration’s budget request for the 2019 fiscal year. The budget builds upon President Donald J. Trump’s commitment to expand education freedom for all families and return power to local leaders.
“The president’s budget request expands education freedom for America’s families while protecting our nation’s most vulnerable students,” said Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “The budget also reflects our commitment to spending taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently by consolidating and eliminating duplicative and ineffective federal programs that are better handled at the state or local level. I look forward to working with Congress to pass a budget that puts students first and returns power in education to where it belongs: with states, districts and families.”