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School Turnarounds: Sharing Successes

As we get deeper into the school year, OESE in particular is focusing on supporting schools and districts as they implement turnaround models, using our school improvement grants.
I wanted to share this video of a particularly inspiring example of a successful turnaround school: George C. Hall Elementary School in Mobile, Alabama. OESE’s deputy assistant secretary, Dr. Carl Harris, tells me that he shared this very example at a turnaround event held just yesterday in North Carolina. I think it’s really helpful to share success stories with one another, and to create these communities of practice.

So, you want to be a teacher?

I’m always excited to meet people who want to enter the teaching profession. After all, I’ve devoted my entire career to education, and it’s the best decision that I’ve ever made.

We do get a lot of questions from teachers and prospective teachers about the process of becoming a teacher – from certification to actually starting on the job search. I know it can be confusing, but I’m really thrilled to know that so many people are interested in teaching and are actively looking for resources!

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President Obama Signs the Executive Order on the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans

This Tuesday, I had the great honor of joining President Obama as he signed the executive order on the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. I shared this special moment with my colleagues, Assistant Secretary for Post-Secondary Education Eduardo Ochoa and Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of English Language Acquisition, Rosalinda Barrera, as well as a number of distinguished Latino leaders.

Video: "La universidad: un sueño alcanzable”

Tomorrow, I have the pleasure of speaking at the National Hispanic Education Summit held by the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, or ALAS. I spoke at their summit last year, and I’m excited to be able to return on behalf of the Department to spend time with this passionate group of leaders!

To give you a quick preview of my remarks, I want to share this short video, put together by the Department, which profiles a young woman named Samantha Hernandez. Her story demonstrates that college is a very real and attainable dream for our Latino students, and all of our students.

Grant Money at ED

One of the key responsibilities and roles that the Department of Education does hold is to provide funding for states, districts, schools, and other entities (non-profits, etc) to support educational initiatives and further education reform. We do have many different grant programs out there, especially within OESE, and I know we’ve gotten inquiries on who is eligible for these grants, and how one might apply.

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School Turnarounds: Learning from Practice and Research

I mentioned how busy it was last week for the Department – it was also a busy week for me personally, as I traveled to California to take part in several conferences and events!

In particular, I had the privilege of attending a conference on school turnarounds, which brought together school, district, and state leaders from Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah. The conference focused on sharing research available on school turnarounds, and provided valuable information on how to apply these research-based practices on the ground. This sharing and learning from one another will be critical as states and districts move forward with the important work of turning around low-achieving schools to better serve our students.

A National Spotlight on Education; Moving Forward on Secondary School Reform

Last week was a big week – for the Department, and for education reform as a whole.

Both Secretary Duncan and President Obama were featured on NBC’s Education Nation Summit, with Secretary Duncan launching the TEACH Campaign, live, from NBC’s Rockefeller Center.

Also last week, we announced two grants that I’m especially excited about: Smaller Learning Communities and the High School Graduation Initiative. Combined, the Department awarded nearly $100 million to improve academic performance and support dropout prevention and re-engagement efforts in states and districts across the country.

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Got A Great Idea?

One of the many interesting parts of my job is to hear from those of you who are out there in the field, especially about all the great work that’s being done in schools. From time to time, we get letters or inquiries from educators, researchers, and other education advocates, sharing with us some interesting curricula or special programs that have worked in their particular school or district. And specifically, they write to ask us, “How can this great idea or program proposal be implemented in schools across the country?


Invest in the future. Inspire a child. TEACH.

Have you heard about our TEACH Campaign yet?

Visit our site. Learn more about how to become a teacher. Listen to stories of inspiring teachers, making a difference in the lives of countless students.

As you know, before I came to Washington, I was a teacher. Each day, I couldn't wait to get to work. Luckily, I still feel that way -- and it's because to be in the field of education is to wake up each morning knowing that you can forever change someone's life for the better.

Find out more. Join the TEACH Campaign today.

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Providing Support for States and Districts

Recently, the Department held its first meeting with the Race to the Top grant winners. It was wonderful to help welcome delegates from winning states and start rich conversations about implementing each of their plans.

To be sure, implementation is where the real challenge lies for many of the states. We at the Department understand that making such comprehensive reforms is a monumental task, and so one of our top priorities is to ensure that states have the support and technical assistance they need to make their plans successful.

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