Category Archives: Secretary Arne Duncan (Sec of Education)

First Lady Michelle Obama Announces Let’s Move Campaign’s Childhood Obesity Guidelines

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at an event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Tuesday, May 11, 2010, in Washington, to discuss the findings of the Childhood Obesity Task Force report. In February, Mrs. Obama launched the Let's Move, a campaign to solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. (Photos ObamaFoodorama and AP/Carolyn Kaster)

AP~Women could help reduce childhood obesity by maintaining a healthy weight when they become pregnant and by breast-feeding their babies, a government panel has found.

The suggestions were among 70 recommendations in the panel’s report. First lady Michelle Obama released the findings Tuesday as part of her campaign against childhood obesity.

“For the first time, the nation will have goals, benchmarks and measureable outcomes that will help us tackle the childhood obesity epidemic one child, one family and one community at a time,” Mrs. Obama said. “We want to marshal every resource – public and private sector, mayors and governors, parents and educators, business owners and health care providers, coaches and athletes – to ensure that we are providing each and every child the happy, healthy future they deserve.”

One in 3 American children is overweight or obese, putting them at higher risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other illnesses. Obesity is even more prevalent among black and Hispanic children. Some public health experts say today’s children are on track to live shorter lives than their parents.

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Take a Look at Our Action Plan to Solve the Problem of Childhood Obesity

Written by Melody Barnes

Let's Move!Today, the Childhood Obesity Task Force is excited to release our action plan to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.

The report reflects input from 12 federal agencies as well as the 2,500 submissions we got from parents, teachers, doctors, nurses and others. It includes 70 recommendations for public and private sector action, as well as concrete metrics and benchmarks to measure our progress towards our goal. Very broadly, the report makes recommendations in 5 key areas:

  1. Getting children a healthy start on life, with good prenatal care for their parents; support for breastfeeding; limits on “screen time”; and quality child care settings with nutritious food and ample opportunity for young children to be physically active.
  2. Empowering parents and caregivers with simpler, more actionable messages about nutritional choices based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans; improved labels on food and menus that provide clear information to help make healthy choices for children; reduced marketing of unhealthy products to children; and improved health care services, including BMI measurement for all children.
  3. Providing healthy food in schools, through improvements in federally-supported school lunches and breakfasts; upgrading the nutritional quality of other foods sold in schools; and improving nutrition education and the overall school environment.
  4. Improving access to healthy, affordable food, by eliminating “food deserts” in urban and rural America; lowering the relative prices of healthier foods; developing or reformulating food products to be healthier; and reducing the incidence of hunger, which has been linked to obesity.
  5. Getting children more physically active, through quality physical education, recess, and other opportunities in and after school; addressing aspects of the “built environment” that make it difficult for children to walk or bike safely in their communities; and improving access to safe parks, playgrounds, and indoor and outdoor recreational facilities.

Many of our ideas can be implemented right away, at little or no cost. With the First Lady’s leadership and working in strong partnership with states, local communities, and the private sector, we look forward to moving without delay to get this plan into action. Let’s Move!

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President Obama Honors 2010 National Teacher of the Year

Posted by: WillieBeyond
Written by Sarah Brown Wessling

Is this where I pinch myself?

2010 National Teacher of the Year award recipient Sarah Brown Wessling (C) of Johnson Community School District in Iowa speaks as President Barack Obama (R), and Education Secretary Arne Duncan (L) listen during a Rose Garden ceremony April 29, 2010 at the White House in Washington, DC. Presenting the award has been a presidential tradition since Harry Truman. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images North America)

Earlier today, I was honored to join President Obama, Secretary Duncan, and Dr. Biden in the Rose Garden of the White House to accept the National Teacher of the Year award.

I couldn’t be more overwhelmed and humbled by this honor. I was joined by the most remarkable assemblages of teachers – the 2010 State Teachers of the Year – I have known. Each is gifted and passionate about the work he or she does; yet, together we are galvanized in our shared vision of what teaching and learning can be. My family, my administrators, some of my own teachers and former students, along with many representatives from the State of Iowa were also in attendance. In front of us all is the collective responsibility to create hope and opportunity for every child in this country.

I think there is a misconception about this honor, that its purpose is to differentiates one teacher from another. Rather, this honor is about our similarities, about what unites us. It’s the deliberateness I share with Daniel, the design I share with Kate, the attention to students I share with Melissa, the pursuit of ideas I share with Ed – all of these teachers here and from home. It is about the purpose I share with each educator standing here today.

If you were to come into my classroom, the first thing you would notice is that my desk is in the back corner, despite the building design to make it otherwise. This placement is but an outward sign of an implicit philosophy, that teaching must be learner-centered.

“The desk in the back of the room” displaces hierarchies, creates an environment where a teacher becomes a lead learner, and evolves into a web of interdependence where the classroom walls become boundless. When we embrace this open-model of learning, the consumers of our curriculum will become designers of their own learning.

It is in these moments of learning that I fondly think of my students. I am here because my students couldn’t be. When we listen to them, their message is clear: Labria would say she deserves worthy learning experiences; Robert would want to be seen as an individual, not as a number or the score on an exam; Meredith would clamor for innovative curriculum; Jasmina would say she deserves passionate teachers. They all would say we need 21st century teachers, not just adults teaching in the 21st century.

Our dream for our students is the same dream we have for our own children, to be recognized for their strengths, to learn from their weaknesses and to be seen as a person of infinite potential.

We are facing tough times in education when it may be difficult to find what to hold onto, but each learner is a story. I see the world in stories and I believe it is these stories that will sustain and teach us. They will challenge and sometimes confuse us. But in the same way that I believe in the transformative power of language to unite us, I am certain that the stories of our students will sustain us.

The 2010 Teachers of the Year are here because our students couldn’t be, because their stories compel us to be here, because we couldn’t be anywhere else.

Sarah Brown Wessling is a high school English teacher at Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa, and the recipient of this year’s National Teacher of the Year Award.

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Sneak Peek of the Commencement Challenge Finalists

Posted by: Audiegrl

Written by: Lauren Paige

Starting on Monday the public will have a chance to weigh in on the six finalists in the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge, but we wanted to give you a sneak peek of the schools today.

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Over the past few weeks students from the six finalist schools worked with Get Schooled to create a short three minute video demonstrating how their school best meets the criteria of the Commencement Challenge.  We’ll debut those videos and a short essay by each school on Monday morning on WhiteHouse.gov/Commencement.  Visitors to the site will have a chance to rate each finalist on a scale of 1-5 and President Obama will choose one of the top three highest rated schools to visit and deliver the commencement address.  Be sure to check back Monday morning to weigh in on the finalists!

Lauren Paige is Director of Special Projects for White House Communications.

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Title IX: Giving Girls a Sporting Chance

Posted by: Audiegrl

Written by: Valarie Jarrett

Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks on Title IX at George Washington University in Washington DC, April 20, 2010. Also present are Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, and former intern Joy Cheek. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

As Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, I was honored and excited to join world-class women athletes, the Vice President, and the Secretary of Education in a Title IX Announcement event Tuesday afternoon at George Washington University.

Title IX was enacted in 1972 and mandates that all educational institutions receiving federal funding create equal opportunities, for both boys and girls, in both academics and all other school activities. The announcement by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan enhances and strengthens the standards for Title IX compliance.

In the 38 years since enactment, we have seen how Title IX has helped women compete at all levels, producing real benefits for them later in life. For example, Title IX has been critical in improving the health of women and girls. New economic research has found that the increase in girls’ athletic participation caused by Title IX was associated with a seven percent lower risk of obesity for those girls 20 to 25 years later. No other public health program can claim similar success. Title IX has also contributed to improving the economic well-being of women and girls. A recent study by the Wharton Business School shows that being a high school athlete is associated with 14 percent higher wages for women. Learn more about Title IX and the strengthened standards by reading Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights
Russlynn Ali’s blog post
.

At the event highlighting Title IX and women's athletics, girls participate in sports clinics with collegiate and professional athletes. (Photo by Joshua Hoover, U.S. Department of Education)

But there is perhaps no better evidence of the benefits of Title IX than seeing young girls interact with the WNBA players, the members of the Silver Medal-winning USA Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and the many skilled collegiate athletes who participated in Tuesday’s event. These all-star women shot hoops and practiced their volleyball serves in clinics during the program, and in doing so, may have inspired the next great WNBA player or Olympian.

This event was not only a reminder as to why Title IX is important, but more broadly, it was a reminder as to why the Council’s work through the agencies remains relevant and continues to make a difference in the lives of women and girls.

Valerie Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls

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Earth Day 2010 Round Up from Across the Obama Administration

Posted by: Audiegrl

It’s been a busy Earth Day here at the White House and around the Administration.  Yesterday Vice President Biden kicked off the Administration’s Earth Day Celebration by announcing $452 million in Recovery Act funding to support a “Retrofit Ramp-Up.” This program will create thousands of jobs and allow these communities to retrofit hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses while testing out innovative strategies that can be adopted all over the country.  President Obama also issued a Presidential Proclamation on Earth Day calling on Americans to join in the spirit of the first Earth Day forty years ago to take action in their communities to make our planet cleaner and healthier.

This afternoon, Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, hosted a live chat on WhiteHouse.gov to answer your questions about how the Administration is working to improve the environment and build a clean energy economy that supports the jobs of the future.  This evening, the President hosted an Earth Day reception in the Rose Garden at the White House where he discussed some of the challenges that lie ahead in achieving a clean energy economy:

I think we all understand that the task ahead is daunting; that the work ahead will not be easy and it’s not going to happen overnight.  It’s going to take your leadership.  It’s going to take all of your ideas.  And it will take all of us coming together in the spirit of Earth Day — not only on Earth Day but every day — to make the dream of a clean energy economy and a clean world a reality.

Over on the Social Innovation and Civic Participation blog, guest blogger and former Peace Corps volunteer Kelly McCormack shares here story about a community solution to an environmental problem in Gautemala.

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Finally, President Obama’s cabinet and other senior government officials fanned out across the country as part of the Administration’s 5-day celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.  From live chats, to announcing major investments in renewable energy, to appearing on the David Letterman show – all-in-all a busy day!

  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson
    Both EPA and Earth Day celebrate their 40th birthdays this year!  On Earth Day, Administrator Jackson joined Green For All at the Grant Houses Community Garden in Manhattan to take a tour of the garden, deliver remarks to students and volunteers and participate in a planting activity with volunteers.  Later tonight catch her on the David Letterman Show to talk about the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and the President’s clean energy and green jobs agenda. Check out EPA’s Earth Day website to learn more about what they are doing to celebrate 40 years of going green!
  • Energy Secretary Steven Chu
    On the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that the Department will invest more than $200 million over five years to expand and accelerate the development, commercialization, and use of solar and water power technologies throughout the United States.
  • Commerce Secretary Gary Locke
    Secretary Locke spoke in Jersey City, N.J., at the Lincoln Park restoration project that is turning a landfill into a healthy wetland. NOAA funded this habitat restoration project through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  • White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley
    Chair Sutley will deliver remarks at the Earth Day Network’s 40th Anniversary of Earth Day festivities on the National Mall this Sunday.  Today she shared her personal reflections on Earth Day on the White House blog.
  • Labor Secretary Hilda Solis
    Earlier today Secretary Solis hosted a webchat to discuss issues and opportunities related to Earth Day. The Department of Labor also issued a report detailing green job training opportunities made available over the past year, including $490 million in Recovery Act funding for green jobs training.
  • Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki
    Secretary Shinseki awarded $20.2 million to install solar energy systems at 18 VA medical centers through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  • Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus
    Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus celebrated Earth Day by attending a flight test of the “Green Hornet,” an F/A-18 Super Hornet multirole fighter jet powered by a biofuel blend. Secretary Mabus has made the exploration and adoption of alternative fuels a priority for the Navy and Marine Corps.
  • Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
    Secretary Salazar joined hundreds of children on the National Mall for a Buddy the Bison Hike sponsored by the National Park Service. Later he joined the Earth Day Network event on the mall to talk the need to address urgent environmental crises such as climate change.
  • Transportation Secretary  Ray LaHood
    Secretary LaHood celebrated Earth Day at a rally in Chicago with Mayor Daley and the Chicago Climate Action Plan.  You can read more about his day on his blog Fastlane.
  • Education Secretary Arne Duncan
    Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered remarks at a ceremony commemorating the 40th anniversary of Earth Day Thursday at the National Mall in Washington.
  • Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen
    Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen reflected on his blog “iCommandant” on the Coast Guard’s mission of saving lives and saving the planet by helping to protect and preserve marine life and habitats.

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First Lady Michelle Obama’s Childhood Obesity Forum ~ Live-Streamed

Today the White House will host a meeting on childhood obesity, bringing together experts and industry leaders from across the country to discuss ways to combat the growing health epidemic. First Lady Michelle Obama, Administration officials and Childhood Obesity Task Force members will discuss healthier food in schools, access to healthy, affordable food, empowering parents and more.

We want to hear from you too. Today the White House is collaborating with GOOD to ask:
What are your ideas to end childhood obesity within a generation?

Tell us your ideas on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. We look forward to hearing from you will feature some of the most interesting responses on the blog.
Please note that the username, personal identifier or icon affiliated with responses may be posted.

Tune in to a livestream of the Childhood Obesity Forum today

1:30 PM EDT: Opening Session with First Lady Michelle Obama

2:30 PM EDT: Breakout Sessions:

  • Empowering Parents and Caregivers
  • Healthier Food in Schools
  • Access to Healthy, Affordable Food
  • Increased Opportunities for Physical Activities

4:15 PM EDT: Closing Session with Melody Barnes, President’s Domestic Policy Council

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First Lady Michelle Obama Celebrates NEA’s Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss’ Birthday

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama prepares to read Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat, during an event at the Library of Congress on March 2, 2010 in Washington, DC. Over three hundred local students participated in the event to promote reading . and to mark Read Across America Day and the birthday of author Theodor Seuss Geisel. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America)

AP~First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated Dr. Seuss’ birthday Tuesday by reading “The Cat in the Hat” to a group of children wearing red-and-white-striped stovepipe hats like the book’s main character.

Mrs. Obama helped kick off the National Education Association’s 13th annual “Read Across America” celebration at the Library of Congress. The event marked the day that Dr. Seuss, or Theodor Seuss Geisel, would have turned 106.

Do you know the president of the United States reads all the time,” Mrs. Obama told a group of more than 200 students from elementary schools in Washington and Arlington, Va. “Our girls at home read every single night.”

The first lady said that her daughters, Sasha and Malia, are allowed to stay up 30 minutes later if they are reading.

Some of the first family’s favorite children’s books are “Horton Hatches the Egg,” by Dr. Seuss and “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak, Mrs. Obama said in response to one of the children’s questions.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan also read “Horton Hears a Who!

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel led the children in a rhyming pledge to read every day. It began: “I promise to read each day and each night. I know it’s the key to growing up right.”

On Monday President Barack Obama proclaimed March 2 Read Across America Day.

Read Across America Day
What is NEA’s Read Across America?

NEA’s Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss.

NEA’s Read Across America also provides NEA members, parents, caregivers, and children the resources and activities they need to keep reading on the calendar 365 days a year.

In cities and towns across the nation, teachers, teenagers, librarians, politicians, actors, athletes, parents, grandparents, and others develop NEA’s Read Across America activities to bring reading excitement to children of all ages. Governors, mayors, and other elected officials recognize the role reading plays in their communities with proclamations and floor statements. Athletes and actors issue reading challenges to young readers. And teachers and principals seem to be more than happy to dye their hair green or be duct-taped to a wall if it boosts their students’ reading.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Unveils Let’s Move…A Nationwide Campaign to Combat Childhood Obesity

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Obama Signs Childhood Obesity Memorandum

President Barack Obama signs the memorandum on childhood obesity, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010, in the Oval Office of the White House,Washington. Standing, from left are, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Health and Human Secretary Services Kathleen Sebelius, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

On Tuesday, First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled her nationwide anti-childhood obesity initiative. President Obama signed a Memorandum on Childhood Obesity with the First Lady proudly standing by his side.

Mrs. Obama’s East Wing said she will be “joined by members of the president’s cabinet, as well as media, sports, entertainment, and business leaders,” plus mayors, member of the medical community and others at the White House event. Her press office has confirmed the following attendees:

  • Mayors Chip Johnson of Hernando, Mississippi, and Joseph Curtatone of Somerville, Massachusetts, who are leading efforts in their communities to reduce childhood obesity
  • Dr. Judith Palfrey, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Will Allen from Milwaukee, WI, who is a leader in the effort to bring fresh produce to inner cities and urban areas
  • Local students, including a student from DC’s Bancroft elementary school, and members of the 2009 national championship pee-wee football team—Watkins Hornets
  • Tiki Barber, NBC correspondent and former NFL football player

“Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled; nearly one third of children in America are now overweight or obese,” the East Wing said in a statement. “The First Lady will announce the elements of the nationwide campaign, which will put us on track to solve the problem of childhood obesity in a generation.”

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First Lady Michelle Obama hugs student Tammy Nguyen in the Red Room of the White House before an event announcing a campaign to combat the rapidly growing problem of childhood obesity while Tiki Barber checks his notes before they take the stage, Feb. 9, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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First Lady Michelle Obama’s PSA for Let’s Move
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Let's Move

Click to visit Let's Move

Childhood obesity or excess weight threatens the healthy future of one third of American children. We spend $150 billion every year to treat obesity-related conditions, and that number is growing.

Obesity rates tripled in the past 30 years, a trend that means, for the first time in our history, American children may face a shorter expected lifespan than their parents.

We need to get moving. Join First Lady Michelle Obama, community leaders, teachers, doctors, nurses, moms and dads in a nationwide campaign to tackle the challenge of childhood obesity.

Let’s Move! has an ambitious but important goal: to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.

Let’s Move will give parents the support they need, provide healthier food in schools, help our kids to be more physically active, and make healthy, affordable food available in every part of our country.

On Tuesday morning, Mrs. Obama sat down with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, and in the evening with CNN’s Larry King to discuss her childhood obesity initiative Let’s Move Here’s are some excerpts of the those interviews:

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President Obama and Secretary Duncan Meet 6th Graders

Posted by: Audiegrl

Speeding Up the Race to the Top

President Barack Obama and Sec. of Education Arne Duncan, right, take questions during a group discussion with 6th grade students at Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, VA. January 19, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama announces a proposed $1.3 billion investment in Race to the Top, a program to encourage innovation and excellence in education through competitive grants, at an event at Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, VA. January 19, 2010.

This morning the President and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan paid a visit to Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia where they had a chat with about 30 6th grade students. The conversation put a face to the people they were trying to help with the President’s latest investment of more than a billion dollars in next year’s budget to amp up the President’s “Race to the Top” program – a competition to incentivize success that has already generated an overwhelming response from states, with over 30 states expected to compete for first-round funding.

You can learn more about Graham Road in the White House background release, but the school made a mark on its community by implementing a comprehensive strategy to turn around student achievement, adopting rigorous and high-quality student assessments, teacher evaluation and professional development, along with innovative and effective use of data systems to track student performance. As a result, in 2008 all of the school’s sixth-graders met Virginia’s reading standards, and 96 percent met math standards, despite being one of the lowest income schools in the county. The expansion of Race to the Top comes with a plan to encourage precisely this kind of visionary change in schools that apply for the challenge.

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In his remarks after the meeting with students, the President explained how it all works, and the logic behind “Race to the Top“:

Last year, we set aside more than $4 billion to improve our schools — one of the largest investments in reform in our nation’s history. But we didn’t just hand this money out to states that wanted it; we challenged them to compete for it. And it’s the competitive nature of this initiative that we believe helps make it so effective. We laid out a few key criteria and said if you meet these tests, we’ll reward you by helping you reform your schools.

First, we encouraged states to adopt more challenging standards that will actually prepare our kids for college and their careers. We also encouraged schools to adopt better assessments — not just one-size-fits-all approaches — to measure what our kids know and what they’re able to do.

Second, we urged schools and school districts to make sure we have excellent principals leading our schools and great teachers leading our classes by promoting rigorous plans to develop and evaluate teachers and principals and by rewarding their success.

Third, we urged states to use cutting-edge data systems to track a child’s progress throughout their academic career, and to link that child’s progress to their teachers so we know what’s working and what’s not working in the classroom. Fourth, we encouraged states to show a stronger commitment to turning around some of their lowest-performing schools.

And even before states have received a single dime of taxpayer money, many of them have committed to instituting important reforms to better position themselves for a Race to the Top grant. Forty-eight states have now joined a nationwide partnership to develop a common set of rigorous, career-ready standards in reading and math. Wisconsin has enacted legislation permitting schools to link student achievement to the performance of teachers and principals. In Illinois, Louisiana, Tennessee, California, we’ve seen changes in laws or policies to let public charter schools expand and succeed. These are public schools with more independence that are formed by teachers, parents, and community members.

So by rewarding some of these states submitting applications today, by extending the Race to the Top for states, by launching a Race to the Top among school districts, and by applying the principles of Race to the Top to other federal programs, we’ll build on this success. We’re going to raise the bar for all our students and take bigger steps towards closing the achievement gap that denies so many students, especially black and Latino students, a fair shot at their dreams.

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