Superintendent Monthly: January 2011

Superintendent Monthly: January 2011


Message from Dr. Meléndez

Dr. Melendez meets with students of Goldrick Elementary in Denver, CO.

Happy New Year to all of you! I'm so excited about the upcoming year and all of its potential, as we work towards building an educational system that offers all of our students the opportunity to excel and meet the highest expectations.

I want to remind all Superintendents that we have our first call/webinar of the year scheduled in just a few weeks, on Monday, February 7. You should have all received an invitation from me earlier this month. More information on the call is below -- please take the time to register if you haven't already! We will be holding these calls on a regular basis to share information and promising practices with our community of superintendents. If you have a suggestion or an idea about topics for future calls, please share those ideas with me by emailing me at I look forward to speaking with many of you on the February 7 call.

ESEA Reauthorization

Renewed Call for Reauthorization in the New Year

In a January 3 op-ed in the Washington Post, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan renewed his call for reauthorization of ESEA. In his piece, he reiterated the bipartisan nature of education policy: "On many issues, Democrats and Republicans agree... These issues are at the heart of the Obama Administration's blueprint for reauthorizing ESEA: more flexibility and fairness in our accountability system, a bigger investment in teachers and principals, and a sharper focus on schools and students most at risk." Read the full op-ed here:

School Turnarounds

New School Turnaround Resources and Information

School Turnaround Newsletter

OESE recently released a list of schools receiving School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding. You can find a full list of SIG-awarded schools here: In addition, the December issue of the School Turnaround Newsletter is now available online at The newsletter provides states and districts with the latest resources and tools on turning around persistently low-achieving schools. Finally, the Department recently published a brochure  called, "Does Your Child Need a Fresh Start?" which describes the main features of the SIG program and what parents and community members can do to help their local school districts as they implement SIG funds. Learn more at

School Turnaround Events

On December 10, Secretary Duncan met with the American Association of School Superintendents' 2010 Superintendents of the Year to discuss what works (and doesn't) in school turnaround implementation. The day prior, OESE's Deputy Assistant Secretary Dr. Carl E. Harris also spent time with the group discussing school turnarounds. Learn more about the Secretary's event here:

Diverse Populations

Tribal Leaders Town Hall

On December 15, 2010, OESE and the Department of Education hosted a Tribal Leaders Town Hall event with more than 100 tribal leaders and representatives from across the country. The event featured announcements on the launch of a new pilot program that will strengthen the role of tribal education agencies and the appointment of a senior advisor next year who will focus on improving education in Indian Country. Dr. Meléndez and other senior staff members met with tribal leaders to talk in depth about how the Department can more effectively partner with tribal officials to ensure that all Native American children get the high quality education they deserve. Learn more:

Grant Information

Discretionary Grant Priorities and Definitions

The December 15 Federal Register included the Department's notice of final supplemental priorities and definitions for discretionary grant programs. This notice finalized priorities in three key areas: advancing cradle-to-career educational reforms, addressing the needs of student subgroups, and building capacity for systemic continuous improvement.  Within each of these categories, there are four to eight priorities, from improving early learning outcomes (Priority 1) to increasing post-secondary success (Priority 8) to improving productivity (Priority 16).  The Department may use, as appropriate for particular discretionary grant programs,one or more of these priorities in any discretionary grant competition.  Learn more:

Public Comments on Enhanced Assessment Instruments Program

The Department is currently seeking public comment on adding the development of English proficiency tests, based on the Common Core state standards, as a priority to the Enhanced Assessment Instruments program. For more information on proposed priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria, visit Public comments will be accepted until February 7, 2011.

Department of Education Updates

Bullying Policies

In response to requests for assistance from state and local officials across the country following a rash of bullying-related suicides, the Department of Education recently distributed a technical assistance memo to state leaders outlining critical components of strong state bullying laws and policies, including a compilation of  key components of existing anti-bullying laws from 29 states. In addition to the memo, Department staff are preparing a comprehensive summary of state anti-bullying laws and conducting a study of how those laws are implemented, in the hopes that the data could further guide states in crafting effective regulations.  Learn more on Department guidance: Learn more on bullying prevention efforts:

Meanwhile, the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention Task Force is now accepting submissions from the public of field-based practices to combat bullying.  Entries that are approved for posting online may be in any number of formats, from research articles to youth-produced Public Service Announcements (PSAs).  All materials and resources posted online must be free of charge and hosted on a government or non-profit web site.  Learn more:

Upcoming Events

RSVP for our February 7 Superintendent Call/Webinar featuring Secretary Duncan and Miami-Dade Leadership

Invitations for the February 7, 2011 Superintendent Call/Webinar have been sent out -- don't forget to RSVP by registering online today! The session will begin with remarks and a Q&A session with Secretary Duncan, followed by a session on school turnarounds featuring district leaders from Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and Assistant Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.

DATE and TIME: Monday, February 7, 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. EST

CALL IN #: 888-982-4689 

PASSCODE: 7398657

REGISTRATION: To register for the webinar, please visit

NOTE: There will be a separate conference call and a webinar for this event. Please register for the webinar in order to RSVP for the event. In order to accommodate a large number of participants, please only use one line per office for the conference call.  Also, please call-in 10-15 minutes early.

Tomorrow Night: Watch the Live Stream of the President's State of the Union Address

President Obama will give the annual State of the Union address tomorrow night, January 25 at 9 PM EST. Watch the live stream of the State of the Union Address on, and stay tuned afterwards for a live Open For Questions event where Senior White House officials will answer your questions about key issues addressed in the speech. Education questions will be addressed by Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy.

2011 National Title 1 Conference: Innovate!

The 2011 National Title I Conference will be held in Tampa, FL from January 31-February 3 and will offer participants important information on Title I programs, policies, and innovations, along with opportunities to learn from and network with colleagues. Dr. Meléndez will kick off the conference on January 31 with introductory remarks at the opening session, followed by an in-depth technical assistance session later that afternoon. Other OESE staff members will also lead sessions at the conference, including Deputy Assistant Secretary Dr. Carl E. Harris, who will help present the Administration's proposed changes to Parent and Family Engagement. Learn more and register:

Labor-Management Collaboration Conference: February 15-16 in Denver, CO

The Department announced details for a Labor-Management Collaboration Conference to be held February 15-16, 2011 in Denver, CO, where school districts and labor leaders will meet to identify ways that collaborative labor-management relationships, policies, and agreements can directly drive academic achievement.  Invitations went out to approximately 2,000 districts that secured federal funding in the past year under major programs.  The Department will randomly select attendees from those who apply but will also ensure diversity in terms of district size and geography.  The event is being sponsored by the Department, in close partnership with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the National Education Association (NEA), the National School Boards Association, the American Association of School Administrators, the Council of the Great City Schools, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.  Learn more at

Copyright © 2011 U.S. Department of Education, All rights reserved.

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