Create, Share, Empower: January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month and this year young people are invited to shed light on this humanitarian crisis within a high-risk population – their peers.

#WhatIWouldMiss, a campaign sponsored by President Lincoln’s Cottage, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Education, encourages teenagers to think about aspects of their daily lives that they would miss if they were a victim of human trafficking.

Teenagers are invited to answer this question using social media. Posts must contain a statistic about human trafficking and the hashtag #WhatIWouldMiss.

A jury of representatives from anti-trafficking organizations, including President Lincoln’s Cottage, will judge all responses posted to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, YouTube, and Tumblr. All posts must be created by Feb. 27, 2015.

One teenager will win a spot at President Lincoln’s Cottage’s third annual Students Opposing Slavery (SOS) International Summit in Washington, D.C., and five additional teenagers will receive awards of recognition.

Join the #WhatIWouldMiss movement! Flyers, graphics, human trafficking resources, and campaign information are all available online at www.StudentsOpposingSlavery.org/WhatIWouldMiss.

ED Seeks Summer Interns

Become a part of the team! ED’s 2014 summer interns participated in a brown bag lunch with Secretary Duncan during their time with the department. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)

Become a part of the team! ED’s 2014 summer interns participated in a brown bag lunch with Secretary Duncan during their time with the department. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)

Have you ever wondered about pursuing a federal career? Are you interested in public service? Would you like to gain valuable work experience and help move the needle on education issues in this country?

The Department of Education may have opportunities that match your interests – and we’re currently accepting applications for interns!

Our Department is a place where you can explore fields like education policy, education law, business and finance, research and analysis, intergovernmental relations and public affairs, or traditional and digital communications, all while learning about the role federal government plays in education.

Our interns also participate in professional development sessions and events outside of the office, such as lunches with ED and other government officials, movie nights, and tours of the Capitol, the Supreme Court and other local sights.

One of the many advantages of interning at ED is our proximity to some of the most historic and celebrated sites in our nation’s capital, all accessible by walking or taking the Metro.

ED is accepting applications for Summer 2015 internships through March 15, 2015.

If you are interested in interning during the upcoming term, there are three things you must send in order to be considered for an interview:

  1. A cover letter summarizing why you wish to work at ED and stating your previous experiences in the field of education, if any. Include which particular offices interest you. (But, keep in mind that – due to the volume of applications we receive – if we accept you as an intern we may not be able to place you in your first-choice office.)
  2. An updated resumé.
  3. A completed copy of the Intern Application.

Prospective interns should send these three documents in one email to StudentInterns@ed.gov with the subject line formatted as follows: Last Name, First Name: Summer Intern Application.

(Note: For candidates also interested in applying specifically to the Office of General Counsel, please see application requirements here.)

An internship at ED is one of the best ways students can learn about education policy and working in the civil service. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to develop crucial workplace skills that will help you in whatever career path you choose. And, it’s an opportunity to meet fellow students who share your passion for education, learning, and engagement.

Click here for more information or to get started on your application today.

De’Rell Bonner is a special assistant and youth liaison in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

Resources to Help You Fill Out the FAFSA

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FAFSA®: An Introduction

If you or someone you know is considering enrolling in college, now is the time to complete the financial aid application – the FAFSA. Students of all ages complete the FAFSA to be considered for financial aid from the federal government, and in most instances, additional money from the state in which they reside and the college they want to attend. That’s why the FAFSA is so important – it is the gateway to three potentially big sources of financial aid from federal, state, and college entities. If you don’t complete a FAFSA, you could be missing out on a lot of financial aid. The data you enter on your FAFSA is used to calculate an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the number that’s used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid and is an indicator of your family’s financial strength to pay for college or career school.

FAFSA: Before you file

A wide array of resources is available to help you navigate the college financial aid process. Before you file your FAFSA, you might want to check out some of the most popular sites to get more information. For a comprehensive source of information on preparing, planning and attending college, take a look at StudentAid.gov. This U.S. Department of Education website is a one-stop source of information for students and their families and is designed to help you through every step of the financial aid process.

You can find general information about federal student aid and many of our publications, brochures, and fact sheets by going to StudentAid.gov/resources. Check the above website for the availability of our publications in English, Spanish, PDF, and Braille. Examples of these publications are listed below:

    • Funding Your Education: The Guide to Federal Student Aid helps students and parents understand the financial aid process and directs them to resources.
    • Financial Aid for Graduate and Professional Students helps graduate and professional degree students understand what types of federal student aid are available to them. It tells them how to apply for aid, what to consider when taking out a student loan, and where else they can look for graduate school funding.
    • College Preparation Checklist explains how to prepare academically and financially for college through “to do” lists aimed at elementary and secondary school students and their parents, as well as adult students. This is the primary publication for any student considering college.
    • My Future, My Way: First Steps Toward College is a workbook for middle and junior high school students that explains how to prepare academically and financially for college. The publication includes charts, checklists, and other activities to engage students as they gain more information about college preparation and costs.

You also may want to check out FAFSA4caster – an early eligibility estimator that can help you plan ahead when it comes to paying for college.

FAFSA: Ways to File

There are three ways to complete a FAFSA:

1) Online at fafsa.gov, (This is the quickest and easiest option!)

2) Access FAFSA to print out a FAFSA PDF

3) Call 1-800-4-FED-AID [1-800-433-3243] to request that a paper FAFSA be mailed to you.

In some cases, you might be able to apply directly through your school. You should check with the financial aid administrator at the school you are interested in attending to see if the school can assist you with your application.

If you need help understanding a specific question on the FAFSA, this guide . Online filers who need additional assistance with a particular question can use the online help or the “Help and Hints” box on the right-hand side of the screen for each question. Keep in mind that filing a FAFSA online is faster and will enable you to benefit from multiple checks to make sure your form is fully complete. (The paper versions, obviously, don’t have this benefit.)

FAFSA: Next Steps

Wondering what happens next? Here are 5 Things To Do After Filing Your FAFSA.

Adam Essex is a Management and Program Analyst at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid.

Let’s Read! Let’s Move! at the White House

Cross-posted from the Let’s Move blog.

Let’s Read! Let’s Move! hosted their first White House event on Wednesday to educate and entertain a group of local DC students on healthy and active living. The typically grandiose ballroom was transformed into a kaleidoscope of color with life-sized balloons, Seuss characters, and Cat-in-the-Hat accouterments to match! Forty students from Seaton, Kendall Demonstration, and Drew Elementary schools (DC Public Schools) participated in the event with the First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Let’s Move! Executive Director, Deb Eschmeyer, welcomed students and was joined by a student from Kendall Demonstration Elementary school to introduce the First Lady. Mrs. Obama treated students to a rousing read of the brand new Dr. Seuss book titled, Oh, the Things You Can Do That Are Good for You.  The First Lady was also joined by Dr. Seuss characters and local volunteers from the YMCA and AmeriCorps.

 

First Lady Michelle Obama, as part of her Let's Move! and Let’s Read! Let’s Move! initiatives, hosts local students for a special reading of Dr. Seuss's "Oh, The Things You Can Do That Are Good for You: All About Staying Healthy" during an event in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 21, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

First Lady Michelle Obama, as part of her Let’s Move! and Let’s Read! Let’s Move! initiatives, hosts local students for a special reading of Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, The Things You Can Do That Are Good for You: All About Staying Healthy” during an event in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 21, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

The team partnered together to lead students in interactive read-along exercises, and challenged students to incorporate physical activity into a traditionally sedentary story time. Throughout Oh, the Things You Can Do That Are Good for You, The Cat in the Hat explains the importance of eating right based on the latest USDA My Plate recommendations; staying active; getting enough sleep, and a host of other daily activities.

Following the story, students reenacted the highlights of the book with the First Lady, which included an impromptu limbo contest and plenty of dancing. Afterwards the students were treated to healthy snacks crafted from recipes in the back of the book and prepared by the White House Kitchen.  These tasty treats, and room with flare, demonstrated to the students that food can be healthy and still taste good.  

This book was made possible with the help of Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) who worked with Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) and Random House Children’s Books (RHCB) to celebrate reading and healthy lifestyle choices for children and families, anchored by a newly updated edition of The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library™ title, Oh, the Things You Can Do That Are Good For You. Thanks to the expertise of PHA, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to make healthier choices easier for busy children and families the book was updated with 15 pages of brand new content.

“Let’s Read! Let’s Move!” is the Let’s Move! sub-initiative that aims to increase awareness about the critical importance of summer learning, nutrition and physical activity. The U.S. Department of Education launched “Let’s Read! Let’s Move!” in 2010, following an Administration-wide effort by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency which administers AmeriCorps and other service programs. These events bring together hundreds of early learning students—pre-kindergarten through third grade—across a diverse demographic stretching from the Washington D.C. metropolitan area and beyond. To promote community service, volunteers from AmeriCorps and the YMCA assist at Let’s Read! Let’s Move! events.

Check out video from the event:

ED Celebrates Award-Winning Student Art in the National PTA’s Exhibit ‘Believe, Dream, Inspire’

Travez Bradford, recipient of a National Award of Excellence for Music Composition/High School Division, performs his winning rap Believe, Dream, and Inspire. (Photo credit: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

Travez Bradford, recipient of a National Award of Excellence for Music Composition/High School Division, performs his winning rap Believe, Dream, and Inspire. (Photo credit: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

On January 13, 2015, more than 200 teachers, family members, arts education leaders, PTA members, policymakers, and local-area students came together to honor student artists from 21 states at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) auditorium and art gallery. The young artists – and winners of the 2014 National PTA Reflections program — came to celebrate their works of visual art, film, dance, music, and creative writing based on the theme Dream, Believe, Inspire.

Two dynamic artists performed their winning pieces. Travez Bradford, recipient of a National Award of Excellence for Music Composition, performed his rap Believe, Dream, and Inspire. With a whirlwind of energy, Jillian Miller, winner of a National Award of Merit for Dance Choreography, performed her lyrical dance You Can Be Anything.

Jillian Miller, recipient of a National Award of Merit for Dance Choreography/Intermediate Division, performed her lyrical dance You Can Be Anything. (Photo credit: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

Jillian Miller, recipient of a National Award of Merit for Dance Choreography/Intermediate Division, performed her lyrical dance You Can Be Anything. (Photo credit: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

Prior to the start of the ceremony, Travez, who had traveled with his grandfather from Natchez, Mississippi, talked about his musical inspiration: the gospel rap he experienced at church. His winning composition is in response to his classmates’ fear of performing poorly on tests and failing to graduate, “Believe in yourself when other people doubt you. Dream big, even when some dreams don’t come true. Inspire yourself when others don’t.” Travez now attends community college in Mississippi.

Secretary Duncan launched the celebration by championing arts education, “The arts should be — must be — part of a well-rounded curriculum for every single child.” The National PTA’s Reflections program, he noted, “helps students gain core knowledge — in areas like history, geography, and math — alongside 21st-century skills like critical thinking and problem solving. This program prepares students for success not just in school but in life as well.”

Echoing the secretary, Dawn Small, chair of the Reflections program, observed, “These students … have gained … the ‘arts advantage.’ Their creativity is alive. … Their mind’s eye is awake. … We look forward to great things from them.”

Robert Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, underscored the value of the exhibit and audience to help decision makers learn about the transformative power of arts education. To demonstrate that, he presented an information tool developed by Americans for the Arts, a national nonprofit organization for the advancement of arts and arts education. “If we do it right,” he charged, “the return on investment is a better child … a better nation and a better world.”

Otha Thornton Jr., National PTA president, stressed the importance of promoting arts education, observing that, “our children’s education is our future … we are their advocates. We are the conduits of their dreams.”

After the ribbon cutting, Vy Nguyen of Texas talked about her acrylic painting Dream with Eye Wide Open. A recipient of an Award of Excellence for Visual Arts, she developed her skill through sheer determination. Blinking away tears of joy, she shared her dream to graduate from high school and attend college. The silhouetted figure depicted in cap and gown represents this dream amid a class of graduating seniors in an eye full of awareness and hope.

Vy Nguyen, recipient of an Award of Excellence for Visual Arts/Intermediate Division, shares the inspiration for her painting Dream with Eye Wide Open. (Photo credit: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

Vy Nguyen, recipient of an Award of Excellence for Visual Arts/Intermediate Division, shares the inspiration for her painting Dream with Eye Wide Open. (Photo credit: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

One of the most exciting sights of the day was the middle school class from Jefferson Academy of Washington, D.C., critiquing student art. Their art teacher Michelle Green explained their presence, “It’s been a long and arduous process of getting them comfortable with the [art criticism] vocabulary. This is a great opportunity for us to see other kids their own age from around the nation looking at artwork” and to get the desire to “join in these competitions!”

Students from Jefferson Academy in Washington, D.C. critique artwork in the student art gallery. (Photo credit: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

Students from Jefferson Academy in Washington, D.C. critique artwork in the student art gallery. (Photo credit: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

Isadora Binder is on the staff of the Office of Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education.

All Department of Education photos are by Paul Wood. More photos from the event may be viewed on the Department of Education’s Flickr

The Department’s Student Art Exhibit Program provides students and teachers an opportunity to display creative work from the classroom in a highly public space that honors their work as an effective path to learning and knowledge for all. To visit the exhibits or for information about exhibiting, contact Jackye Zimmermann.

New Ed.gov Homepage and More

You may have noticed we launched our new Ed.gov homepage today. This completes the third and final phase of our visual refresh for our main website. We released the second phase of the refresh back in June.

So, what’s new?

Streamlined Homepage

The new homepage takes our efforts to streamline navigation on the website one big step further. There are fewer links and more open space on the homepage.

homepage-Ed.gov3.0

How did we decide what links and content are on the homepage? We used data that we get through the Digital Analytics Program and other feedback tools. The most popular, highest traffic sections and pages on the website have a spot on the homepage or in the navigation. Links that didn’t get many clicks moved to pages a level down.

The data shows that our customers use external search engines and site search as the primary ways to enter and navigate the site. In a way, every page is our homepage, and although it gets a lot of traffic, the homepage isn’t always the first stop or entry point.

After we rolled out the new top, bottom and side menus back in June, we’ve seen an upward trend in our online customer satisfaction score overall, and in navigation and look-and-feel in particular. More customers who reply to the satisfaction survey say they find what they’re looking for.

More Mobile-Friendly

Now the entire flagship Ed.gov site offers a mobile-friendly web experience. All of our main website and blog content layouts use responsive design and Bootstrap styling, which means each webpage automatically adjusts to the size of your smartphone or tablet. There’s no more need to do that reverse pinch gesture to zoom in and so you can read the text on your phone.

Online Press Room Updates

The press room content – press releases, media advisories, and speeches – are more easily readable anytime, anywhere and on any device.

You can get to the online press room quickly by visiting ed.gov/news or clicking on the “More News” link on the homepage.

We also launched a refreshed video page today that pulls in a feed of our most recently posted videos.

Technical Upgrades

We made a number of improvements under the hood. We upgraded our content management system, Drupal, from version 6 to version 7, so we are keeping current with the version supported by the open source community. Moving from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 also made it easier to convert to a mobile-friendly, responsive design theme. Other technical improvements should mean that our webpages load more quickly now.

We hope these updates improve your Ed.gov experience! If you have comments or suggestions, please share them here on the blog.

Jill James is web director at the U.S. Department of Education and co-chair of the Department’s Open Government Working Group.

Help Us Get the Word Out About the FAFSA

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For us at the U.S. Department of Education, the start of a new year provides a fresh opportunity to remind parents, students, educators and others about the importance of submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA ®). The Department’s office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) provides more than $150 billion in grants, loans, and work-study funds each year to help students pay for college or career school. Completing the FAFSA is the primary step for determining eligibility for federal student aid and subsequently accessing these funds. With the 2015-16 FAFSA having gone live on January 1, FSA is requesting your assistance in promoting FAFSA completion.

We are asking for your help in getting the message out through your social media channels about the importance of completing the FAFSA early in the year. To help you do that, FSA has developed some resources for you to use. They include sample Facebook posts, tweets, blogs, informative videos, photos and infographics. These and other great resources can be found on FSA’s Financial Aid Toolkit. These resources can be tailored to best fit your needs. If you’re new to social media or just looking for ideas on how to easily use these resources or how others are using them, view this presentation.

In addition, over the next few months, FSA’s Digital Engagement Group will be actively managing our own presence on social media with a strong focus on FAFSA completion. We highly encourage you to use and repost our content whenever applicable. Here are the places you can find us:

facebook      twitter     youtube     storify
Thanks for your support and commitment to advancing the higher education goals of students and families across the country.

Susan Thares is the Digital Engagement Lead at the Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid.

A #SOTU Twitter Chat with Secretary Duncan

Last night, the President delivered the State of the Union Address. Following the Address, Secretary Duncan jumped on Twitter to hear your initial reaction to the SOTU and answer your questions.

The Secretary finished off the quick chat by thanking everyone for the feedback and encouraging everyone to read or listen to the President’s speech.

America’s College Promise: A Ticket to the Middle Class

During last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama reiterated his commitment to make two years of community college free for all Americans who are willing to work hard toward graduation. Inspired by similar programs in Tennessee and Chicago, the President’s proposal—America’s College Promise—would allow students to complete a certificate, an associate’s degree or the first two years of a bachelor’s degree at no cost.

This proposal comes at a time when it’s never been more important to earn some form of higher education. In previous generations, a high school diploma was sufficient to secure a middle-class job and support a family. Today, however, going to college and earning a credential has become a prerequisite for joining the middle class. Labor market projections show this trend is only going to increase. By 2020, economists predict that nearly two thirds of jobs will require some level of education and training beyond high school.

Over the last three decades, however, the cost of earning a college degree has risen sharply. During this period, the tuition for in-state students at public, four-year colleges increased by more than 200 percent, and the charges at community colleges increased by 150 percent, even after taking inflation into account.

As a result, today’s college students have to take on much more debt than their parents’ generation to access middle-class jobs. All hard-working Americans should have the opportunity to attain the knowledge and skills they need for good, well-paying jobs without having to take on unmanageable debt.

Given the demands that individuals face in the job market today and our need as a country to have the most educated and competitive workforce in the world, we must make two years of college as free and universal as high school. America thrived in the 20th century in large part because the movement to make high school widely available allowed us to dramatically improve the education and skills of our population. But other countries have caught up with us, and some are passing us by. The time has come for America to once again “skill-up.”

Community colleges are the natural focus of this effort. They are the backbone of the U.S. higher education system, enrolling about 40 percent of all college students each year. As low-cost, open-access institutions, community colleges also serve a high percentage of low-income, first-generation, and older college students. Community colleges provide an affordable option for millions of Americans to start college and work toward a bachelor’s degree. Community colleges educate more African American and Hispanic undergraduate students than any other higher education segment. They also have strong partnerships with local and regional businesses to develop critical training programs to meet the skilled workforce needs of high-demand industries like nursing, information technology, and advanced manufacturing.

As the President has said, this proposal will require everyone to do his or her part. Community colleges will need to offer high-quality programs and implement evidence-based reforms to increase the number of students who persist, graduate or transfer. Additionally, participating states must contribute matching funds, invest in higher education and training, and allocate a significant portion of funding based on performance, not enrollment alone.. And students must enroll at least on a half-time basis and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA so they can stay on track to graduate.

America’s College Promise will yield tremendous benefits to an estimated 9 million hard-working Americans who dream of earning a college degree and joining the middle class. Pamela Garcia, a recent graduate of Valencia College and the University of Central Florida, is someone who comes to mind. Pamela grew up in a low-income family with seven children and didn’t have many options to attend college. But her parents believed strongly in the value of education. So Pamela enrolled at Valencia College in Orlando, where she earned two associate’s degrees in electrical engineering technology, one with a specialization in electronics and another focused on laser and photonics. Based on her talent and strong work ethic, one of her professors recommended Pamela for an internship with a defense contractor – and she was subsequently hired for a job.

Pamela Garcia with Dr. Jill Biden. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)

Pamela Garcia with Dr. Jill Biden. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)

While working, Pamela chose to continue her education and eventually earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Central Florida. For the past 18 months, Pamela has been employed as an electrical engineer in Melbourne, Florida and earns more than $60,000 a year. Pamela credits her success to the affordable and high-quality education she received at Valencia College. America’s College Promise will ensure more hard-working students like Pamela have access to these kinds of life-changing opportunities.

Ted Mitchell is Under Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education.

Expanding Opportunity for Every American: Education and the State of the Union

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


“I want our actions to tell every child, in every neighborhood: your life matters; and we are as committed to improving your life chances as we are for our own kids.” – President Barack Obama


On Tuesday, President Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address. The President’s speech reflected his strong belief that education is a vital investment in America’s economic competitiveness, in its communities, and in its people.

The President discussed America’s economic recovery, noting that since 2010, our nation has put more of its citizens back to work than Europe, Japan, and all advanced economies combined.  At a time when millions of Americans now work in jobs that didn’t exist even 10 or 20 years ago, education—particularly higher education—is more important than ever before in the effort to equip our young people with the skills they’ll need to succeed in the well-paying jobs of the 21st century knowledge economy.

In his speech, the President noted the significant educational progress that our nation’s schools, teachers, and students have made – including young students earning math and reading scores at record levels, a high school graduation rate at an all-time high, and more Americans finishing college than ever before.

While celebrating progress, the President noted we must work to ensure that education lives up to its promise of bolstering and expanding the middle class and helping more young people to achieve their greatest potential.

He stated: “America thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free, sent a generation of GIs to college, and trained the best workforce in the world. But in a 21st century economy that rewards knowledge like never before, we need to step up our game; we need to do more.”

By the end of this decade, two in three jobs will require some form of higher education. Yet, as the President noted, too many bright, hard-working students are priced out of college. In his address, the President laid out his top priorities – all aimed at expanding opportunity and opening the gateway to the middle class to more Americans.

He committed to his recently announced America’s College Promise proposal, which would make two years of community college free for responsible students; and he asked more businesses to offer educational benefits and paid apprenticeships, giving workers the chance to advance in their careers, even if they haven’t achieved higher education. The President also pledged to make quality childcare more available and more affordable for every middle-class and low-income family with young children, and to extend the reach of technology and the Internet into every classroom.

Each year, the First Lady invites exceptional Americans—whose stories often reflect key themes in the speech—to join her in her viewing box. This year, several educators and students were selected. Learn more about these special guests.

Below are education excerpts from the speech:

Higher Education:

“… I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college – to zero.

Keep in mind: forty percent of our college students choose community college.  Some are young and starting out.  Some are older and looking for a better job.  Some are veterans and single parents trying to transition back into the job market.  Whoever you are, this plan is your chance to graduate ready for the new economy, without a load of debt.  Understand, you’ve got to earn it – you’ve got to keep your grades up and graduate on time.  Tennessee, a state with Republican leadership, and Chicago, a city with Democratic leadership, are showing that free community college is possible.  I want to spread that idea all across America, so that two years of college becomes as free and universal in America as high school is today.  Let’s stay ahead of the curve. And I want to work with this Congress, to make sure those already burdened with student loans can reduce their monthly payments, so that student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s dreams.”

Job Training and Workforce Development:

“… To give working families a fair shot, we still need more employers to see beyond next quarter’s earnings and recognize that investing in their workforce is in their company’s long-term interest.”

“[T]o make sure folks keep earning higher wages down the road, we have to do more to help Americans upgrade their skills. …

Thanks to Vice President Biden’s great work to update our job training system, we’re connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, and nursing, and robotics.  Tonight, I’m also asking more businesses to follow the lead of companies like CVS and UPS, and offer more educational benefits and paid apprenticeships – opportunities that give workers the chance to earn higher-paying jobs even if they don’t have a higher education.”

Technology:

“I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.”

Early Learning/Childcare:

“First – middle-class economics means helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change.  That means helping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, retirement – and my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year. …

In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever.  It’s not a nice-to-have – it’s a must-have.  It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or as a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.  And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America – by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.”

State of the Union Resources

Tiffany Taber is Chief of Staff for Communications Development at the U.S. Department of Education.

Email from Secretary Duncan: Why I’ll Be Watching Tonight

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Earlier today, Secretary Arne Duncan sent the following message to ED’s email list to let them know why he’ll be watching tonight’s State of the Union address. Didn’t get it? Sign up for email updates here.


Tonight, President Obama will deliver his sixth State of the Union address to the country.

In his past five addresses, the President has discussed big ideas to strengthen education, and to support and celebrate teachers, students, and parents.

There’s good reason the President devotes so much of his annual address to education. We have a lot to be proud of. The graduation rate is at its highest level, for the first time, four out of five students are completing high school on time, and a million more black and Hispanic students in college.

But we still have important work to do. America is at an educational crossroads, and we must ensure we are moving forward not back. We must recognize that educational opportunity is a national priority, and that equity and excellence matter more than ever.

Watch tonight to learn more about the President’s ideas on supporting success for America’s students.

Join me in watching the State of the Union, tonight at 9 p.m. ET. Visit wh.gov/SOTU to watch an enhanced version of the speech, and follow @USEdGov on Twitter for live updates.

Arne

First Lady Invites Students and Educators to State of the Union

Tonight, President Obama will deliver his sixth State of the Union Address to Congress and the Nation. From free Community College to early childhood education, we know that education will be one of the many topics the President discusses in the annual speech.

Each year, the First Lady invites exceptional Americans that match the themes of the State of the Union Address to join her in her viewing box. This year, several students and educators have been invited. Here’s a look at who’s attending:

malikMalik Bryant
Letter Writer – Chicago, IL

Thirteen-year-old Malik Bryant sent a letter to Santa over the holidays, but rather than request the usual gifts, Malik wrote: “All I ask for is for safety I just wanna be safe.” And, rather than mail the letter to the North Pole, a non-profit organization – moved by Malik’s plea for the fundamental right to feel safe in his community – redirected the letter to the White House. The President wrote back to Malik, encouraging him and underscoring that Malik’s “security is a priority for me in everything I do as President.” Malik lives with his mother Keturah and his two sisters in a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. He is in seventh grade, and his favorite subject is math.

chelseyChelsey Davis
Student, Pellissippi State Community College – Knoxville, TN

A native of Jefferson City, Tennessee Chelsey Davis decided that community college was the best path to re-enter her collegiate career with the ideal support and resources. In May 2015, Chelsey will graduate from Pellissippi State Community College with plans to pursue a B.A. in Nutritional Science. Chelsey currently serves on the Student Activities Board and as a New Student Orientation Leader at her community college. She also participates in the Knoxville Food Policy Council meetings and tutors elementary and middle school children in reading and mathematics at The First Tee of Greater Knoxville Learning Center. She has an interest in national and international humanitarian work and is excited to have an opportunity to study abroad in Segovia, Spain with the Tennessee Consortium of International Studies (TnCIS) this summer. After graduation, Chelsey plans to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Chelsey met President Obama, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden earlier this month at Pellissippi State Community College when the President announced his “America’s College Promise” proposal. It makes two years of community college free for responsible students. As someone who understands the benefits of community colleges first-hand, Chelsey hopes to encourage high school graduates to take full advantage of the opportunity.

elderWilliam Elder, Jr.
Medical School Student – Engelwood, CO

William Elder, Jr. graduated from Stanford, and is currently a third year medical student at the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University in Ohio.  Bill was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was eight years old, at a time when most cystic fibrosis patients were only expected to live to early adulthood.  But thanks to a unique collaboration between the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, patients, researchers, and a pharmaceutical company, Bill, now 27, expects to live a long, full life.  He benefits from a medication that targets the underlying cause of the disease for a small subset of cystic fibrosis patients. Inspired by his doctors and care team, Bill plans to become a family practitioner with a focus on preventative care.  Bill’s story is a testament to the promise of precision medicine, an emerging approach to treatment that takes into account patients’ individual characteristics, such as their genetic make-up, to improve treatment.

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