After barely surviving her confirmation battle and facing sporadic protests during visits to schools, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos could hardly have teed up a more fraught, emotional and divisive issue to launch her tenure: campus sexual assault.
Though almost no one is happy with the Obama administration’s efforts to prod colleges and universities to more aggressively combat and investigate sexual assault on campus, there is little agreement on how to make things better.
Alleged survivors, accused perpetrators and even school officials all complain that the current system isn’t working.
Last week, while the most in the media fixed their eyes on Donald Trump Jr., far-left activists geared up for a different kind of assault on the Trump administration: a full-court press to maintain a series of unlawful Obama-era policies that have stripped young men of their constitutional rights, ruined lives, and fostered politically correct (but factually challenged) hysteria on campuses from coast to coast. At issue is the Obama administration’s April 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter, a document that skipped the legally mandated regulatory rulemaking process to require colleges to adjudicate campus sexual-assault cases under a “preponderance of the evidence” standard without also securing adequate due-process rights for the accused.
Why do such a thing? Because campus activists (and Obama-administration allies) were convinced that colleges were in the middle of a “rape crisis.” Shoddy studies conducted with expansive definitions of sexual assault convinced the Left that an astounding 20 percent of college women are assaulted during their campus years, rendering the university a virtual war zone for women. It’s a rate that contradicts Bureau of Justice statistics showing that women are safer on campus than off, and that the real rate of sexual violence on campus isn’t one in five but closer to 6.1 per 1,000, a number that had been trending downward for 14 years as of 2013, the last year covered in the BJS report.
U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. today called for more high-quality education programs within correctional facilities – especially, since nearly all of America’s 1.5 million incarcerated individuals will eventually reenter society.
In a dear colleague letter that coincides with a report showing low-literacy skills among the incarcerated, King urged states to make use of expanded resources under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. With help from that law, states can shrink achievement gaps, equip prisoners with skills and credentials to find meaningful employment and support successful reentry.
“In order to reduce recidivism, it is important for these individuals to become productive and contributing members of our society,” King wrote. “Providing these individuals with opportunity, advancement, and rehabilitation is not only the right thing to do, it also positions our country to remain economically competitive in a global economy. To foster this reintegration and reduce recidivism, we as a nation must continue to expand and develop correctional education and reentry support programs.”
The U.S. Department of Education today announced more than $4.4 million in grants to improve literacy skills, outcomes and results for children with disabilities.
“When we improve literacy skills for children with disabilities, including those with dyslexia, we are not just teaching them how to read, we are opening doors to a lifetime of more positive opportunities, such as improved academic skills, reduction in behavioral incidences, increased school completion, and lifelong learning,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “These awards will continue to address inclusion, equity and opportunity for all children, including those with disabilities.”
The U.S. Department of Education today released a new toolkit to inspire and support current and former foster youth pursuing college and career opportunities. The Foster Care Transition Toolkit includes tips and resources intended to help foster youth access and navigate social, emotional, educational and skills barriers as they transition into adulthood.
Currently, there are over 400,000 children and youth in America’s foster care system and every year, more than 23,000 youth age out of the system, never having found the security of a permanent home.
“Many foster youth lack stable residences and strong support structures and face tremendous barriers,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “This toolkit offers practical tips on navigating those challenges – with education as the foundation.”
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students awarded Crazy Horse School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota a Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant totaling $107,631. The grant will be used to assist with ongoing recovery efforts following numerous student suicide deaths and attempted suicides during the last couple of years.
This is the third Project SERV grant awarded to a school on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The first grant was awarded to Pine Ridge School and the second to Little Wound School—both to assist with recovery efforts following record high student suicides and attempted suicides. Since 2010, the Department has awarded more than $650,000 in Project SERV grants to the three schools, including Crazy Horse, on the reservation.
“The youth of this community represent its future,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr., who was in Pine Ridge on Thursday for meetings and school visits. “The Department of Education is committed to helping this community recover from these tragedies. This grant will help Oglala educators strengthen the learning environment so that all students can reach their full potential.”
The U.S. Department of Education awarded more than $14.7 million to 40 school districts in 20 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 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-based counseling programs are a wonderful resource for students whose families may not be able to take advantage of outside services or programs,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “These grants will allow school districts to hire more professionals and provide additional services to those students who are struggling with mental-health and emotional issues, and their families.”
My thanks to CEO Edwards and President Dukes for their comments, and for that gracious introduction.
I thank you for your unwavering commitment to equal opportunity for all students and your leadership in rethinking school discipline in Maryland. And I’m so pleased to be joined here today by my good friend and colleague, Attorney General Holder.
The Attorney General and his team have been great partners in our work together to improve school climate and keep schools safe. I know this is a very personal issue for him–as it has been for me, and for the students we talked to just minutes ago at a roundtable here at Frederick Douglass.
We’re gathered here today to talk about school discipline—which, far too often, is not applied equitably or as effectively as it could be in our nation’s schools.
Annie, my wife, agrees. And if you knew Annie, she doesn’t overstate anything.
Don’t get me wrong, we had a lot of awesome things happen personally (I taught my daughter how to ride a bike… on Father’s Day!) and professionally (my second book came out), but the last year has been tough.
Honestly, we’ve sort of been reeling since Sept. 18, 2012. That’s the day we learned that our son Griffin might be on the autism spectrum. In 2013, after jumping through all sorts of hoops and watching our son be poked and prodded again and again in the name of evaluations, we learned that our little Griffy is autistic.
So much of our hearts and minds have been wrapped up trying to learn what autism means and what to do and how to feel. We struggled. We cried. Nothing we could say or do made it better. Much of whatever free time was left after a day of wiping ends of kids, feeding, bathing, and putting them to bed was spent talking about autism.
We took less photos. We spent less time with friends. We both were depressed.
More kids are being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than ever before, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 8.8% of children were diagnosed in 2011, compared with 7.0% in 2007.
An uptick was also witnessed in the number of parents choosing to medicate their children with stimulants such as Ritalin. That proportion now sits at two-thirds.
ADHD is perhaps childhood’s most common neurobehavioral disorder. It’s characterized by an array of symptoms, including squirming, excessive daydreaming, forgetfulness, and hyperactivity. Scientists still can’t precisely pinpoint what’s going on in the brain to trigger ADHD, but it’s evident that something is amiss. Children with ADHD generally have reduced brain volume in the left pre-frontal cortex.
But the lack of a conclusive causal mechanism in the brain leads many onlookers to conclude that ADHD is a manufactured condition. Its symptoms are merely side effects of childhood, they argue. But this is not in agreement with evidence stemming from genetics. Thanks to large twin studies, a number of genes have been implicated, particularly those that affect dopamine transporters. The dopamine system of the brain regulates a whole heap of processes, but it’s most commonly linked with reward seeking. As far as ADHD goes, we know that when dopamine levels are driven up within the brain, ADHD symptoms lessen in severity.