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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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President Obama Honors Educators in Math and Science

Posted by: Audiegrl

white house gov logoPresident Obama honors educators who have shown excellence in teaching and mentoring students in mathematics and science at an awards ceremony at the White House. January 6, 2010.

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A Streamlined FAFSA by Dr. Jill Biden

posted by: Audiegrl

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Dr. Jill Biden, Senator Jack Reed join students and guidance counselors from Banneker Senior High School to discuss the FAFSA, January 5, 2010.

Dr. Jill Biden~~I know first-hand as a parent and as a former high school and current college instructor just how challenging and overwhelming all of the financial aid forms and paperwork can be – and it was great to see how the current forms have fewer questions, easier navigation and are more user-friendly. I spoke with students at the computer lab who expressed relief to be working on the more user-friendly FAFSA.

President Obama has challenged the nation to have the highest percentage of college graduates by 2020, and simplifying the FAFSA form is a huge step toward removing barriers to financial aid and access to higher education for all.

If you are considering applying for financial aid, you can learn more here: www.fafsa.ed.gov

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Conservatives Urge ‘National Truancy Day’ For Obama’s Back-to-School Speech

Vice-President Joseph Biden, President Obama and Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan

Vice-President Joseph Biden, President Obama and Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan


Posted by Audiegrl
On Tuesday, President Obama will be delivering a speech to American school kids encouraging them to study hard and stay in school. Sounds good, right? Not so fast, to the folks on the right, this is all a super secret plot of our Socialist/Marxist/Communist/(Any-other-word-you-can-add-ist-to) President. Oh, my God! Obama is trying to indoctrinate our kids…(of course this is only after he kills your grandma..).

The over-the-top drama is being led by conservative blogger/nutcase Michelle Malkin and conservative radio screecher Dana Loesch. They are so offended that they are calling September 8th the “National Truancy Day.” Yes, you got the right. They are asking people to pull their kids out of school that day!

Surely they realize that August was “National Truancy Prevention Month”, where people around the country were actually trying to keep kids in school. So far schools in Texas are making the viewing optional, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Others in Columbia, Missouri are ignoring the address altogether.

Lets start with Texas. Great state, lots of cool places to see, popular sports teams, but if you are interested in geting a great education in Texas, I have bad news for you. Out of all of our states literacy rates, Texas ranks 49, next to last place, which is held by Mississippi. Missouri fares a little better with a ranking of 30. So if I was an educator in these two states, having my students listen to a positive message from the President that tells them about the importance of education, it would be a no-brainer. Unless I was a Conservative…

National  Day of Silence

National Day of Silence

We shouldn’t be surprised by these actions. Earlier this year, a national coalition of right wing Christian and anti-tolerance organizations promoted truancy as a response to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s 13th Annual National Day of Silence on April 17. Students were asked to take some form of a vow of silence on that day to bring attention to anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Students from more than 7,500 middle and high schools participated in 2008. But of course, the right wing groups called it the equivalent to the Hitler Youth. Sound familiar? What is the right-wings fascination with describing Progressive programs they don’t like by using Hitler comparisons. What’s up with that?

According to ThinkProgress..On Fox News this morning, NPR’s Juan Williams defended Obama’s effort as “innocuous,” saying that “on the face of it, it seems to be almost patriotic…you should hear the president speak about the value of education, staying in school, hard work.” But Family Research Council President Tony Perkins wasn’t convinced that the speech would be benign. To buttress his argument, Perkins asserted that “the president really hasn’t pushed any educational reform issues yet in his administration”:

Perkins is speaking without regard for the facts when he says that Obama hasn’t “pushed any educational reform issues yet.” In fact, Obama has put a strong emphasis on education reform. For instance, the stimulus bill contained an unprecedented investment in education, which was aimed at incentivizing reform:

To help struggling schools, the federal government will use stimulus funding to encourage states to expand school days, reward good teachers, fire bad ones and measure how students perform compared with peers in India and China, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said yesterday.

So ok, I understand we have a two-party system and that they are the supposedly loyal opposition party…I get that. But why should we allow them to politicize education for our kids? Seriously, if the kids survived George W. Bush reading them ‘My Pet Goat‘, I’m sure they can survive a educational pep talk by President Obama.

My message to them, leave the damn kids alone and stop makin’ stuff up!

****Update
Hat tip goes out to Jed Lewison of DKosTV, for finding this video. On the eve of the 1992 presidential campaign — October 1, 1991, to be exact — President George H. W. Bush pitched his education plan in a speech broadcast live to school classrooms nationwide. Please take a moment to read Jed’s diary entitled Another wingnut meme goes down the drain .

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