I'm pleased to invite you to a series of summer seminars hosted by the Department of Education called "Summer Seminars at Six: An Introduction to Education Policy."
The seminars are designed to share information about education policy that will help teachers to be engaged and participate in policy discussions at the federal, state and district level. Led by teachers working at the Department, along with other staff, there will be opportunities for questions and discussion both in person and online.
I'm headed to Dallas in a few days to give a keynote speech at the national conference of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBS). I'm excited to be able to meet the wonderful staff, mentors, and mentees who are part of this organization, and to help them reaffirm their commitment to serving our neediest youth, particularly those from low-income and minority backgrounds. Studies have shown that mentors have a positive effect on all aspects of their mentees' lives -- in school, at home, and with friends. Organizations like BBBS are also critical partners for our schools and districts, to provide the necessary support our children need for academic and personal success.
This event also has a special meaning for me, because I was invited to speak by one of my own mentors, Dr. Raymund Paredes, who serves as the chair of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Nationwide Hispanic Advisory Council, and is currently the commissioner of higher education for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. I first met Dr. Paredes as a college student at UCLA, and he's become one of my most trusted mentors and advisors. I'm honored to be able to share my own experiences with wonderful mentors like Dr. Paredes, and to provide encouragement to current mentors who are changing lives, one on one.
In this month's Superintendent Monthly, you'll find information on the Department's budget tables for FY 2011, new data on our School Improvement Grants, and information on new guidance and programs at the Department. I hope the information is useful to you, and I encourage you to sign up to get the most up-to-date information from OESE.
I’m pleased to announce that IES has released the Department’s first report on the revamped School Improvement Grant (SIG), called "Baseline Analyses of SIG Applications and SIG-Eligible and SIG-Awarded Schools". This report uses publicly-available data from State Education Agency (SEA) websites, SEA SIG applications, and the National Center for Education Statistics' Common Core of Data to provide initial information on SIG-related policies and practices that states intend to implement, and the characteristics of both SIG-eligible and SIG-awarded schools. We’re also making available the entire database of SIG data to the public -- you can find links to the database and documentation below. Finally, a mapping tool for the SIG data is available at http://data.ed.gov/grants/school-improvement-grants.
I'll be hosting an Education Stakeholders Forum to be held Wednesday, May 11th, 2011, at 1:00 p.m., at the Department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. We'll be soliciting input and feedback on how we can improve the delivery of technical assistance through our partnership with Regional Comprehensive Center.
As I’ve mentioned in this blog before, we in OESE are taking a new approach to working and helping districts build capacity, especially those who serve diverse groups of learners. So, one of our priorities is working specifically with rural schools and communities to ensure they have the appropriate resources and support to address the unique challenges they face.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit a rural school in Colonial Beach, Virginia – specifically, a rural SIG school. Colonial Beach High School is one of two schools in the Colonial Beach district, and it serves a population of 3,000 citizens. The school received SIG funds last year and they’ve adopted the transformation model to turn around the school, with a lot of support from the district and its superintendent, Dr. Carol Power.
During my visit, I met teachers, saw some classrooms, and spoke with the dedicated School Board and the Lead Turnaround Partners team, which is made up of six educational experts that are working with Colonial Beach to implement the school turnaround process. The school has made some encouraging progress, but what was really interesting for me to see was how Colonial Beach was dealing with some of its challenges as a rural school. For example, the school has only one algebra teacher – that certainly makes it difficult to form a professional learning community at the school! The solution for Colonial Beach has been to use technology to connect teachers to colleagues in other areas.
The Department recognizes that many of our nation’s rural schools face particular challenges like this one, and we are working to provide technical assistance and other forms of support, including our upcoming SIG Conference focused on rural and Native American students, to be held on May 24-25 in Denver. We want to offer a forum for rural educators to build a professional network, to learn from one another, and to celebrate the unique strengths offered by rural communities. I’m interested in learning even more about strategies and successes in rural schools across the country, so I encourage you to share your experiences directly with me at AskDrT@ed.gov.
Photo Credit: Reza Marvashti/The Freelance Star | Read coverage on the visit from Fredericksburg.com.
Superintendents -- are you keeping up with all that's happening in OESE and the Department of Education? Read all about our latest grants and events through the April issue of Superintendent Monthly.
Thank you to those of you who joined us for the April Superintendent Call yesterday afternoon. We discussed the documents put out by the Department of Education last month to Governors on increasing educational productivity and flexibility in federal dollars. I hope the call was helpful to you.
I also encourage you to email me about potential topics that you'd like us to cover in future calls -- we want to make them as helpful and productive to you as possible. Email me at AskDrT@ed.gov and sign up to be on the Superintendent mailing list to receive invites to our Superintendent calls!
This entry is cross-posted from the ED.gov blog.
This morning, I’m excited to help kick off the 2011 School Improvement Grant Eastern Regional Conference in Washington, DC – an intensive, two-day event for school, district, and state leaders who are working to turn around their lowest-performing schools. The conference, hosted by ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) in partnership with our Comprehensive Centers, is the second of four regional capacity-building sessions that will take place over the next two months. The conferences are a key part of OESE’s efforts to provide our grantees with support and technical assistance as they implement the School Improvement Grant (SIG).