April “School Days” Highlights Potential Increase in Student Loan Rate

In the just-released April 2012 edition of “School Days,” the monthly video journal of the U.S. Department of Education, President Obama calls for quick action by the Congress to avoid a dramatic increase in the interest rate for Federal college loans; Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announces the first-ever awards in the new U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program; and a the Blueprint for Career and Technical Education outlines the Administration’s plans for transforming the programs that prepare students of all ages for the workplace of today.  And there’s much, much more.  Watch “School Days.”


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New “School Days” Features March Events at ED

The March 2012 edition of “School Days,” the U.S. Department of Education’s monthly video journal, looks at just-announced data on student progress at our nation’s lowest performing schools, Secretary Arne Duncan’s visit to the South by Southwest Festival, and a new tool to help high school guidance counselors make sure their students are applying for federal aid for college.  All that and much more are featured in this month’s “School Days.”


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What Happened in February at ED?

In the February edition of “School Days,” the U.S. Department of Education’s monthly video journal, President Obama names the first states to receive flexibility from the requirements of No Child Left Behind, Secretary Arne Duncan visits the Green Schools National Conference, the Administration proposes new education investments in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, and ED unveils the RESPECT project aimed at transforming the teaching profession – and lots more.  Don’t miss clips from the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

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A Coming of Age Moment

Secretary Arne Duncan visited the Green Schools National Conference in Denver yesterday, where he praised the 1,500 educators in attendance for their commitment to greening our schools, developing environmental literacy, and nurturing stewardship and an ethic of sustainability in our students.

Duncan Speaks at the Green Ribbon EventArne called the gathering “a coming of age moment for the green movement in our schools,” declaring that the movement had matured to the point that environmental concerns were no longer viewed as anything less than essential.

“In the past, skeptics of green schools and the value of environmental literacy have claimed that reducing our ecological footprint and increasing understanding of the environment was a kind of zero-sum game,” Arne said.  “Green schools and environmental literacy in fact complement the goals of providing a well-rounded education for the 21st century, of modernizing schools at reduced costs, and of accelerating learning.”

Arne pointed out how green schools nurture unique skills and knowledge that matter more than ever in today’s global economy.

Reducing disease, developing renewable sources of energy, curbing pollution, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are no longer challenges that stop at our borders.  America simply cannot meet any of these challenges without collaborating with other countries. And those partnerships will require U.S. students to develop better critical thinking, a deeper understanding of science and sustainability, and a greater awareness of ecosystems and energy efficiency.

The conference attendees included principals and teachers, school board members, facility and energy managers, school nutrition professionals, students, and others, as well as representatives of environmentally-focused national organizations.  Arne thanked them for their advocacy and support for the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program, which he noted has inspired a variety of federal and state agencies to work together in innovative ways to help schools reduce their environmental impact, save energy, promote better health, and develop environmental literacy.

“Your movement is helping not only to change the culture of our schools for the better, but the culture of the Department of Education,” he said.

Read Secretary Duncan’s speech and sign up here for email updates from ED’s Green Ribbon Schools.


Find resources to green your school and learn about ED-GRS.
See U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools blogs.
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Please note: U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools is a federal recognition award and should not be confused with any green schools program conducted by non-governmental entities.

“School Days” Video Features Plans for Making College More Affordable

The January 2012 edition of “School Days,” the monthly video journal of the U.S. Department of Education, features President Obama’s State of the Union message and his plans for making college more affordable, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s challenge for college sports programs to strike a better balance between athletics and academics, a convening of State education leaders to talk about their Race to the Top plans, and a new performance piece called “Teachers’ Lounge” – and much more.  Watch “School Days”:


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“School Days” Features President Obama’s Speech Linking Education to Middle Class Prosperity

The December 2011 edition of “School Days,” the video journal of the U.S. Department of Education, is now online.  This month’s top stories include President Obama’s speech on the importance of education for middle class prosperity; Secretary Arne Duncan’s celebration of the teaching profession; and recent grants for education reform.

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Dancing Educators

Earlier this school year, principals and teachers traveled to Washington, D.C., from across the country to take part in the 2011 Blue Ribbon Schools Award ceremony.  Their schools were being honored by the U.S. Department of Education for their overall academic excellence or for their success in closing achievement gaps.

When it was time to receive their awards, some of the educators got pretty excited.

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New “School Days” Video Highlights First Group of States Seeking Waivers from NCLB

The latest edition of ED’s “School Days” video journal looks back at the month of November, and the lead story features the first states to seek waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act in exchange for broad reforms.  Other news includes Secretary Arne Duncan’s visits to Ohio, Kentucky, and Rhode Island; new grants for innovations in education; a just-published report showing that schools with low-income students aren’t getting their fair share of state and local funds; and much more.

Watch the November 2011 School Days:


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Latest “School Days” Video Features “Pay As You Go” Proposal on Student Loan Debt

President Obama’s “Pay as You Go” proposal to make college more affordable is the top story in the October 2011 edition of School Days, the U.S. Department of Education’s monthly video journal. Other topics featured include Secretary Arne Duncan’s visit to Puerto Rico, higher education summits with Indonesia and India, and West Coast town meetings with parents and teachers.

Watch the October 2011 School Days here:


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Jobs Act Offers Hope for Urban Schools

When superintendents from across the nation gathered last month for the Council of the Great City Schools’ fall meeting in Boston, one critical topic for discussion was the devastating effect that our struggling economy has had on school budgets.

School leaders spoke about the difficult decisions they have had to make, and about the budget cuts that threatened teacher jobs, halted badly needed renovation projects, and curtailed services and instruction for students.

Four superintendents from different parts of the country – Mary Ellen Elia of Tampa, Fla., Winston Brooks of Albuquerque, N.M., Gene T. Harris of Columbus, Ohio, and Carol Johnson of Boston – spoke on camera, and they agreed that the American Jobs Act’s proposed funding for teachers and modernizing facilities offers real hope to urban schools. In September, President Obama called on Congress to invest $60 billion in education through the Jobs Act. America’s educators are still waiting.

“There’s just nothing more important, nothing more important today than investing in public education,” Superintendent Johnson said. “I think all of us expect more from this nation, and I think that funding education is absolutely key to our success.”

Watch Hope for Urban Schools:

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Keeping the Beat

School districts are straining to deliver a quality education to all their students in this difficult economy, and things can be especially tough on music teachers.  Across the country, shrinking school budgets have meant layoffs, increased workloads, cuts in funds for facilities and instruments, and even the elimination of music programs. 

In a new Department of Education video called Keeping the Beat: A Teacher Talks About Schools, Music Education and the American Jobs Act, Philadelphia music teacher Jason (Jay) Chuong discusses the impact of the economic downturn on the learning environment of his inner city students. As one of six “itinerant” percussion teachers in the Philadelphia school district, Jay conducts classes in seven different schools and has a budget of just $100. His solution: teaching bucket drumming, using inexpensive plastic buckets that he can purchase at the local hardware store.

 Jay says that the American Jobs Act would offer much-needed funds to repair his school district’s aging facilities and keep teachers on the job. “If the American Jobs Act is passed, we would put more money in modernizing schools, we would offer work for construction workers, we would hire back more teachers, we would do all kinds of things for the younger generation of the cities,” he says. 

In the meantime, Jay remains on the move, going from school to school, teaching his classes in percussion and giving his students other important lessons as well. “Music has the opportunity to develop confidence in kids,” he says. “It gives them something to take ownership of. It develops team working skills; it’s all of these life skills that they can apply to all different parts of life.”

Watch Keeping the Beat:

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September School Days Video Journal Highlights the American Jobs Act

News on what the American Jobs Act means for teachers and schools, a report on Secretary Arne Duncan’s back-to-school bus tour, and the winners of the 2011 Broad Prize are among the stories featured in the September edition of “School Days,” the U.S. Department of Education’s monthly video journal.   Watch it here:


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