Visit to Virginia Elementary School Underscores Commitment to Early Ed

Secretary Duncan walks and talks to a student at Patrick Henry Elementary School in Alexandria, VA. (Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

Secretary Duncan walks and talks to a student at Patrick Henry Elementary School in Alexandria, VA. (Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

Secretary Arne Duncan and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Learning Libby Doggett stopped at Patrick Henry Elementary School in Alexandria, VA., Wednesday to talk about the importance of early education with a group of parents, teachers, local administrators and community leaders. The school runs a PreK-5 program and has eight preschool classes.  Teachers at the event didn’t hide their enthusiasm for the benefits that preschool brings to their classroom.

“The majority of my students this year have attended preschool. And I have not had a classroom like this. Ever,” said Lori Shabazz,  Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teaching Award winner in 2014 and kindergarten teacher at the school. “I’ve been teaching kindergarten for 19 years.”

In years past, she had to devote most of her time to remediating students who weren’t ready for kindergarten. Students came to her class unprepared both academically and socially—up to 86% of them failed assessments. But this school year has been different. For the first time ever, she has been able to dedicate most of her class time to a kindergarten appropriate curriculum. And the results have been remarkable.

“Each kindergarten teacher should get this experience. That has a class that’s ready for kindergarten,” she said.

Duncan used the opportunity to not only learn more about how the early learning program has transformed the school culture, but also to talk about the administration’s vision for changing the education landscape in the country through ESEA reauthorization. A critical component of the plan includes expanding early learning opportunities for children nationwide—especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“We as a nation can take the next step… And work together to make sure every child enters kindergarten ready to be successful. And our kindergarten teachers around the nation will tell us when that happens, amazing things happen in classrooms,” he said.

Patrick Kerr is a member of the Communications Development division in the Office of Communications and Outreach

New Guidance to Help Protect Student Privacy in Educational Sites and Apps

When signing up for a new technology, digital service, or app, there’s a simple little check box near the end that most of us don’t give much thought. But for schools and districts, agreeing to a terms of service agreement could have big implications for student privacy.

Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Education released model terms of service guidance to help schools identify which online educational services and apps have strong privacy and data security policies to protect our students.

Some terms of service agreements are a tough read, even for lawyers, so the hope is that our new guidance will help school officials decide what’s right for their school and students.

Today’s guidance helps officials look for provisions that would allow the service or company to market to students or parents, provisions on how data is collected, used, shared, transferred, and destroyed, and it also guides schools on making sure they’re satisfying parental access requirements, as well as proper security controls.

Read the entire guidance here, and check out the training video below:

Learn more about student privacy by visiting the Department of Education’s Privacy Technical Assistance Center.

Breaking the Cycle of Homelessness for America’s Students and Families

In a recent video, the New York City Rescue Mission proved just how invisible America’s homeless are. Have the Homeless Become Invisible? illustrates the challenge. In this social experiment several people came face to face with their relatives and loved ones dressed as homeless persons on the streets of Soho. Not one individual recognized his or her loved ones.

Imagine walking past your brother or sister, homeless and on the streets, and not knowing them. Most Americans don’t want to believe it but homelessness in our country is tragically pervasive. And according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 41% of the homeless population is comprised of families with children. is comprised of families with children. The National Center on Family Homelessness estimates that more than 2.5 million children experience homelessness each year.

But, there’s good news: communities aren’t standing idly by as homeless students and their families struggle. Recent briefs issued by the National Center for Homeless Education demonstrate that collaborations between housing authorities and school districts can help to break the cycle of homeless for families and children.

Schools are probably a family’s most trusted institution and when local housing agencies and foundations enter into partnership with them, they can reach families earlier in their housing crisis. These collaborations also provide school leaders opportunities to deal more effectively with the academic and social needs of the students

A pilot program at McCarver Elementary School in Tacoma, Washington is an example of a partnership between the school, the local housing authority, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and several other local agencies. This project brought fifty families to the school, attending conferences, volunteering, and working with caseworkers. In return, these families received vouchers to help cover the cost of housing.

During the course of the program, parents have made considerable progress toward financial stability, family incomes have almost doubled, and students have made gains in educational performance. Between the first and second years, the percent of students in the program reading at grade level nearly doubled and remained on par with all McCarver students in year three.

Two other demonstration projects have entered into similar collaborations. Working closely with Boulder Valley School District and the St. Vrain Valley School District, the Boulder County Housing Authority used funds received from a HOME grant to identify families at risk of becoming homeless to set financial and educational goals. Families in the program signed an agreement to allow case managers to work with them to support their children’s academic success. Case managers participate in various school meetings, modeling appropriate behavior for the parents and encouraging their involvement in their children’s schools. This unique support system has resulted in increased financial self-sufficiency and additional academic support, including free and low cost computers and Internet access.

In December 2014, Hamilton Family Center entered into a partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District to address family homelessness in the school system. When a teacher, counselor, social worker, or nurse learns that a family is in crisis, they call the Family Center hotline. Within three business days, staff arrive at the school and work with the family to assist with finding housing.

With funding from Google and other donors, the Hamilton Family Center is able to serve approximately 10 families a month. Through this new partnership, teams work together on issues of educational performance, truancy, and emotional development with homeless or at-risk students.

According to Secretary Duncan, “Schools, with additional support from local community organizations and governments and private foundations, are a critical link to help stabilize the family by reducing mobility, supporting enrollment and attendance, providing homework support, and improving student achievement.”

All families, especially those living in unstable or inadequate housing and high poverty, deserve efficient and integrated resources to help them achieve economic stability and educational success.

Programs like the ones in Tacoma, Boulder, and San Francisco demonstrate that homeless families don’t need to remain invisible. The outlook for these families with children can improve dramatically when the barriers that keep them hidden are removed.

Elizabeth Williamson is an Education Program Specialist in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Communications and Outreach in Philadelphia, PA.

The Importance of Transforming Adult Learning

Several years ago, Carmen — a single, widowed parent — immigrated from Mexico to California to create a better life for herself and her two-year-old son. When she arrived in the U.S., she spoke very little English. She enrolled in ESL classes at New Haven Adult School and then went on to earn her GED. But Carmen soon realized that she needed to acquire more skills in order to find a job that paid a living wage. While working part-time, maintaining a home and raising her children, Carmen went on to earn her Adult Education Teaching Credential. She eventually completed her Bachelor of Arts degree. Today, Carmen is a computer skills instructor at New Haven Adult School, where she inspires ESL students to achieve their most ambitious education and career goals, just as she did.

Carmen’s story illustrates the importance of supporting low-skilled adults who are working hard to support their families. Last year, approximately 1,300 school districts and 370 partner organizations invested $231 million in federal resources and $614 million in state resources for foundation skills training.

While these investments are critical, unfortunately, they are not enough. The international Survey of Adult Skills showed an alarming 36 million American adults have low literacy skills. Since the survey’s release, ED has been hard at work to create a solution at the federal level. Congress also took action, passing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in July 2014, refocusing federal workforce development, adult education, and vocational rehabilitation systems to prepare adults for 21st century work. The Vice President’s office coordinated the Ready to Work job-driven training agenda. Most recently, the President announced the Upskill America initiative to enlist employers in this effort.

But there is still more that needs to be done. The Making Skills Everyone’s Business report, released today, emphasizes that addressing the challenge of adult skill development must be a shared responsibility.

Because the negative effects of low skills ripple through society and the economy, improving the education and skills of adult learners can pay substantial dividends for individuals and families, businesses and communities.

This report lays out seven strategies for establishing convenient, effective, high-quality learning opportunities. It challenges those of us in education to work more closely with employers to prepare students for in-demand jobs with advancement potential. It challenges employers to work more closely with educators to ensure effective training programs that lead to meaningful skill development. And it calls for making career pathways available and accessible everywhere, an effort that will be aided by the implementation of WIOA.

Importantly, this report recognizes the persistent gaps among learners of different races and abilities. As a nation, we must face the fact that achievement gaps, fueled by opportunity gaps, do not close on their own. Rather, they continue to fester and grow, contributing to inequality and unfairness, a widening income gap and inter-generational poverty that threaten our economic and civic prosperity. Educators must reach out to community- and faith-based institutions and employers to design new and scale up promising models that provide youth and adults with skill development and job opportunities.

Ted Mitchell is the U.S. Under Secretary of Education and Johan E. Uvin is Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

It’s Time for Equitable Spending of State and Local Dollars

We believe that every child should receive a strong education that prepares him or her for success in college, careers, and life.

It shouldn’t matter what a child looks like, how much his or her parent makes, or what zip code they live in; all students should be given the same opportunity and resources to achieve. However, because our country has long used local property taxes to fund schools, school funding is not spent at equal levels.


“In today’s world, we have to equip all our kids with an education that prepares them for success, regardless of what they look like, or how much their parents make, or the zip code they live in.”                                                                                                                                                         – President Obama


According to our latest data, students from low-income families in 23 states are being shortchanged when it comes to state and local education funding. In these states, districts serving the highest percentage of students from low-income families are spending fewer state and local dollars per pupil than districts that have fewer students in poverty.

Twenty states also have school districts that spend fewer state and local dollars on districts with a high percentage of minority students, than they do on districts with fewer minority students.

Our recent numbers looks specifically at spending inequalities between school districts, but we also know that in too many places, the spending problems are made worse by inequalities in spending between schools within districts. That’s why we need to close the “comparability loophole” in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – to be sure that districts start with a level playing field so federal dollars go to their intended purpose of providing additional support for students who need it most.

Educators know that low-income students need extra resources and support to succeed, and the good news is that nothing is preventing states from correcting course and ensuring that all students are prepared to succeed. In fact, states like Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, and North Dakota are allocating money in a more equitable manner to help all students prepare for college and careers.

All of us have a role to play when it comes to ensuring that students from low-income families aren’t shortchanged. At the federal level, we’re ready to work with Congress to close the federal loophole that allows districts to allocate funds inequitably.

Recently, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan laid out his vision for a new Elementary and Secondary Education Act, including the idea that opportunity for every child needs to be part of our national conscience.

 

Related:

¡Estudia, Hay Dinero! There’s Money to Study!

First Lady Michelle Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan participate in an interview with Don Francisco of UNIVISION at Northwestern High School in Washington, D.C., Feb. 12, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

First Lady Michelle Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan participate in an interview with Don Francisco of UNIVISION at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, MD, Feb. 12, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary Arne Duncan sat down recently with Don Francisco, the renowned host of Univision’s longest-running TV show, Sábado Gigante, to discuss the importance of filling out the FAFSA. The message is simple: ¡Estudia, Hay Dinero! or, There’s Money to Study!

Students and parents filled a classroom at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, to hear the First Lady tell her story of achieving her dreams by going to college. The First Lady spoke of her experience as a first-generation college student whose parents offered lots of moral support and encouragement even though they had not gone to college themselves. She told the students, “I’m actually just like you. There’s no magic. It requires hard work”.

After the interview, parents and seniors gathered in the school’s computer lab to complete the FAFSA with the help of school counselors and staff from Federal Student Aid.

When talking to the students about their future goals, many were honest about their experience and even admitted that they messed up at the beginning of high school. They explained that they realized the importance of going to college because it’s key to a better future. One of those students said she wants to pursue a dream of becoming a fashion designer. She understands that in order to have a promising future, she needs to get a degree. With the support of her family and friends, she will graduate this spring and attend community college in the fall.

Both the First Lady and Secretary Duncan understand that parents may be nervous about their kids leaving home or may be apprehensive about completing the form. But they urged all the parents to encourage their kids to reach higher, to complete their educations, and to own their futures.

The Department has simplified the FAFSA, making it easier now for students and families to complete. It’s no secret that going to college is expensive, but like Secretary Duncan said, “It’s the best investment you could make.” In only twenty-five minutes a student and family can have access to the billions of dollars in federal aid the government offers towards education. It costs absolutely nothing to fill out the form, but can be the factor that helps a student achieve his or her dreams.

Remember: There’s money to study! If you or a student you know has not yet filled out the FAFSA, visit www.studentaid.gov to answer your questions and link you to the FAFSA. Congratulations to all of the students making the choice to Reach Higher!

Rahje Branch is the Reach Higher intern in the Office of the First Lady. She is a sophomore studying at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA.

Creating a New Federal Education Law: Have you asked me?

As a Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellow, I have the unique opportunity to view education through two perspectives—first, as a teacher in metro Atlanta and, second, as an employee of the U.S. Department of Education. Having the privilege to serve in this dual capacity comes with a great responsibility to question what I see every day in education and to share my truth.

With the proposed reauthorization for the nation’s education law—the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—moving at light-speed in the world of policy, it left me wondering what my ESEA looks like.

ESEA was introduced in 1965, but most people know the law by the name it received in 2001 when it was updated—we call that renewal the No Child Left Behind Act. There are two proposals to create a new ESEA in Congress right now—a bill from Congressman John Kline and a discussion draft of a bill from Senator Lamar Alexander. They are similar, and they have enormous implications for teachers.

I wonder what would happen if lawmakers had the courage to ask the people in the trenches what their ESEA would look like. Novel idea, right?

What are the thoughts of those educators who, day-in and day-out, cross thresholds into buildings where impressionable young minds are nurtured and supported? How would this law impact the people who spend hours pouring care, sowing seeds of inspiration, and imparting knowledge into our future leaders?

I wonder what would happen if lawmakers asked how teachers feel about the need for higher expectations. I wonder if they know my true feelings about rigorous, college- and career-ready academic standards and what it would look like if all of us stayed the course long enough to see results before cutting ties.

I wonder what would happen if we had the ability to leave the “this too shall pass” mentality behind and focus on results for kids. I wonder if policymakers think about the investment that states and districts have made—with taxpayer dollars—to try to implement standards that will catapult our students into a realm where they can easily compete with any student, anywhere. Imagine that.

My school is one where some students are homeless, and the attendance zone includes children who come from three drug rehabilitation centers as well as transitional housing centers. I wonder what would happen if my school was faced with losing Title I funds, which come from ESEA. The House bill on Capitol Hill right now cuts funding for education.

If we lost resources, would that mean that the extra teachers—who my principal hires to reduce class sizes and provide more concentrated interventions to our most vulnerable students—would be eliminated? The students with the greatest needs should receive the most resources. This is a simple truth.

I wonder, as a teacher and a parent, should high-quality early childhood education for all children be a luxury or the norm? Countless amounts of research show that the return on investment for early learning is huge. Yet, the benefits of providing all our children with access to quality early learning is yet to be realized in this country, and I wonder if proposals in Congress do enough to expand preschool opportunity.

All of these things matter. These are the reasons that I get up at 5:30 every morning to drive to Dunwoody Springs Elementary School. These are the reasons that I applied to be a Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the Department of Education. These things represent my colleagues, my students, and my own two beautiful, brown baby boys.

But I am just one voice, so we need to hear from you too. Tell us what your ESEA looks like. How does it affect you, your school, your class, or your child:

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ESEA reauthorization impacts us all. I hope that policymakers and others who are central to this effort will listen to educators, and what they hope will be in their version of a new ESEA—a law that takes into account their experiences, their truths, and that expands opportunity to all children.

Patrice Dawkins-Jackson is Teaching Ambassador Fellow who continues to serve from Dunwoody Springs Elementary School in Sandy Springs, GA.

Highlighting Success in Delaware

Howard HS of Technology

Students at Howard High School of Technology. (Official Department of Education Photo by Joshua Hoover)

Secretary Arne Duncan made several stops in Delaware yesterday to get a firsthand look at the incredible progress made in education throughout the state. Delaware’s graduation rate has gone up, and dropout rates are at a 30-year low. The state is also making huge investments in early education and has emerged as a national leader in making college more affordable for everyone.

His first stop was at Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington, a school that was really struggling when he visited the school with Vice President Biden four years ago. But thanks to key reforms put in place since then, the school has made significant strides. While acknowledging the school’s accomplishments, he underscored the need to keep moving forward.

“Long way to go, no one’s putting up a huge ‘mission accomplished’ banner, but… as I’ve seen in schools as I’ve traveled the nation, schools that historically have struggled, have seen significant turnarounds in a relatively short period of time,” he said.

While there, he met with Governor Jack Markell, Education Secretary Mark Murphy, and a group of teachers who are leading key efforts at their schools to transition to higher standards and better assessments.

Other stops included a visit to the Rotary Club in Wilmington, and a stop at Delaware Technical Community College in Stanton with Labor Secretary Tom Perez for a roundtable discussion with students and business leaders and a conversation about the President’s proposal to make two years of community college free for responsible students.

The trip was both an affirmation of the hard work being done, but also an opportunity to remind stakeholders that there is still much left to do. While recognizing the many challenges that come with implementing big and bold changes to education (such as college and career readiness), he strongly urged educators to persevere.


“The lessons here are really profound, and the progress is fantastic, but what happens here, I think has national implications,” he said.


Patrick Kerr is a member of the Communications Development division in the Office of Communications and Outreach

Let’s Get Every Kid in a Park

Cross-posted from the White House blog.

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From sea to shining sea, our country is home to gorgeous landscapes, vibrant waterways, and historic treasures that all Americans can enjoy. But right now, young people are spending more time in front of screens than outside, and that means they are missing out on valuable opportunities to explore, learn, and play in the spectacular outdoor places that belong to all of them.

President Obama is committed to giving every kid the chance to explore America’s great outdoors and unique history. That’s why today he launched the Every Kid in a Park initiative, which calls on each of our agencies to help get all children to visit and enjoy the outdoors and inspire a new generation of Americans to experience their country’s unrivaled public lands and waters. Starting in September, every fourth-grader in the nation will receive an “Every Kid in a Park” pass that’s good for free admission to all of America’s federal lands and waters — for them and their families — for a full year.

Because we know that a big reason many kids don’t visit these places is that they can’t get there easily, we will also help schools and families arrange field trips and visits by providing key trip-planning tools and helping to cover transportation costs for schools with the greatest financial need. For example, the National Park Foundation — the congressionally chartered foundation of the National Park Service — is expanding its program to award transportation grants for kids to visit parks, lands, and waters. The President has also requested new funding in his FY 2016 Budget to support youth education programs and to support transportation for school outings to parks for students from low-income areas.

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And because the great outdoors is one of our greatest classrooms, we are making sure that more kids can benefit from the wide range of educational programs and tools that already exist. For example, a number of our agencies participate in Hands on the Land, a national network connecting students, teachers, families, and volunteers with public lands and waterways. And the National Park Service is launching a revised education portal featuring more than 1,000 materials developed for K-12 teachers, including science labs, lesson plans, and field trip guides. With this kind of support, we can help our children become lifelong learners — both inside and outside the classroom.

Designating New National Monuments

Along with the Every Kid in a Park Initiative, the President today announced he is designating three new national monuments to permanently protect sites unique to our Nation’s extraordinary history and natural heritage. In fact, the President has protected more acres of public lands and waters through the Antiquities Act than any other administration. Together, these actions will help us make sure young people will get to experience for themselves some of America’s greatest assets. We hope that these efforts mean that next year, fourth-graders in Chicago will learn how activists in their city prompted the 20th century labor and civil rights movement at the Pullman National Monument, that an elementary school class in Colorado will discover the spectacular landscape of Browns Canyon National Monument, and that kids in Hawaii will learn more about the tremendous value of our civil rights at the Honouliuli National Monument. And decades from now, those children will get to share America’s heritage and wonder with their own families.

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The Pullman National Monument will preserve and highlight America’s first planned industrial town, and a site that tells important stories about the social dynamics of the industrial revolution, of American opportunity and discrimination, and of the rise of labor unions and the struggle for civil rights and economic opportunity for African Americans and other minorities. Photo courtesy of Office of State Historic Sites, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

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Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado will protect a stunning section of Colorado’s upper Arkansas River Valley. Located in Chaffee County near the town of Salida, Colorado, the 21,586-acre monument features rugged granite cliffs, colorful rock outcroppings, and mountain vistas that are home to a diversity of plants and wildlife, including bighorn sheep and golden eagles. In addition to supporting a vibrant outdoor recreation economy, the designation will protect the critical watershed and honor existing water rights and uses. Photo by Bob Wick, U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management.

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Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii permanently protects a site where Japanese American citizens, resident immigrants, and prisoners of war were held captive during World War II. Located on the island of Oahu, the monument will help tell the difficult story of the internment camp’s impact on the Japanese American community and the fragility of civil rights during times of conflict. Photo by R.H. Lodge, courtesy Hawaii’s Plantation Village.

Arne Duncan is Secretary of Education.

Sally Jewell is Secretary of the Interior.

Tom Vilsack is Secretary of Agriculture.

Jo-Ellen Darcy is Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

Kathryn Sullivan is  Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere at the Department of Commerce, NOAA.

Where Are They Now? Revisiting the “12 for Life” Program

12 for Life has provided technical, leadership and life skills for many students. (U.S. Department of Education)

12 for Life has provided technical, leadership and life skills for many students. (U.S. Department of Education)

Last fall, during the 2014 Partners in Progress Back-to-School Bus Tour, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had the opportunity to meet with several inspiring students participating in 12 for Life, a program created by a private business called Southwire. While on a tour of the factory floor, the students shared inspiring and deeply personal testimonies about how 12 for Life has provided technical, leadership and life skills while enabling them to earn their high school diploma .

Brittany Beach’s story is one we will remember for many years to come. Brittany was pregnant when her high school counselor suggested she apply to 12 for Life. “Not one time did not graduating cross my mind,” she said, “Being here gave me the opportunity to attend school and not give up, because of the supports.” Now Brittany is enrolled at West Georgia Technical College and expects to be certified as a nursing assistant. There is a job waiting for her at the nearby veteran’s hospital, she said, and she wants to continue her training to become a registered nurse.

Many of her peers in 12 for Life have similar stories and are the first ones in their families ever to graduate from high school. The data confirms that Brittany is not alone. Over 5 million 14-to-24-year-olds in the U.S. are neither working nor in school.

Across the U.S., public-private partnerships are responding to address the urgency of this crisis, and 12 for Life is one example. This cooperative education program was developed in 2007 and targets many of the most vulnerable youth who are at the greatest risk of not completing high school in Georgia. Since the program’s launch, the district’s dropout rate has plunged from 35 percent to 22 percent. The program has been so successful, in fact, that it is expanding. In 2013, Carroll County School was awarded a four-year $3 million federal Investing in Innovation grant, which helped expand a version of the program in three counties and is helping start similar programs elsewhere in Georgia and other states.

Addressing the needs of the more than 5 million disconnected youth in our nation requires the support of schools and businesses in each community. 12 for Life is a unique approach that sits at the intersection of industry and education. Among the many high school reform and dropout prevention efforts, it is noteworthy not just for the notable gains and clear public benefit, but because Southwire has found the program helps make the company more competitive – providing results for its bottom line while helping develop the future workforce.

Secretary Duncan met with many students in the 12 for Life program during the 2014 Partners in Progress tour. (U.S. Department of Education)

Secretary Duncan met with students in the 12 for Life program during the 2014 Partners in Progress Back-to-School Bus Tour. (U.S. Department of Education)

More students, school districts, and employers can benefit from this approach. By using the 12 for Life model, schools and businesses can leverage the strengths they already have to create partnerships that benefit all involved.

Scaling an intervention that works is a good idea. That is why we call on leaders in business, industry, labor, education, and philanthropy to join and coordinate efforts to expand opportunities to millions of youth across the country that need a life changing opportunity like the one 12 for Life represents. This program delivers on the promise of creating real ladders of opportunity.

Johan E. Uvin is Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

Teen Dating Violence: Prevention through Raising Awareness

Do you know what to do if you think a teen in your life is in an abusive relationship?

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Learning how to spot the signs of an abusive relationship can make a dramatic impact on the lives of teens suffering from dating violence – and could also save lives.

According to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), teen dating violence includes the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence that may occur within a relationship. In many cases, teens in abusive relationships experience severe psychological conflict which can lead to changes in their behavior. Some warning signs to watch out for include increased levels of aggression, isolation from family and friends, and erratic mood swings. If you suspect a teen is experiencing an abusive relationship or are unsure of the warning signs, the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline will offer immediate and confidential support.

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Every year, about one in 10 high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their partner. While anyone can be affected by domestic violence, teens are more likely to be affected by the long-term effects of abuse: depression and anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, suicidal tendencies, and an increased risk for victimization during college. It can be easy to overlook some behaviors like teasing or name calling as “normal” in a relationship, but these acts can escalate to abuse or more serious forms of violence.

ED, its federal partners, and a growing number of schools nationwide are committed to increasing awareness of teen dating violence by educating the public about healthy relationships. We recognize that the real work of preventing teen dating violence and sexual assault happens at the local level, in schools, in homes, and in community centers across the nation. Schools must clearly communicate that they will not tolerate violence of any kind, will respond to any students who report it, and will hold offenders accountable.

We remain dedicated to vigorously enforcing compliance with Title IX and the Clery Act – laws that make our schools safer. The following resources provide more information to support schools and communities in their efforts to create safe, healthy learning environments and identify, investigate, and remedy sexual assault, domestic violence and teen dating violence:

Jimmy Tang is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

President Obama’s Weekly Address: Giving Every Child, Everywhere, a Fair Shot

In this week’s address, the President laid out his plan to ensure more children graduate from school fully prepared for college and a career.

Our elementary and secondary schools are doing better, as demonstrated by the news this past week that our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high, but there is still more that can be done to ensure every child receives a quality education. That’s why the President wants to replace No Child Left Behind with a new law that addresses the overuse of standardized tests, makes a real investment in preschool, and gives every kid a fair shot at success.

He reminded everyone that when educating our kids, the future of our nation, we shouldn’t accept anything less than the best.

Learn More: