School Days January 2012

Uploaded by usedgov on 13.02.2012

It's "School Days," the monthly video journal of the US Department of Education.
In our January 2012 edition, President Obama reveals his plan for keeping college affordable
and within reach for all Americans in his State of the Union address. Secretary of Education
Arne Duncan challenges college sports programs to strike a better balance between athletics
and academics. State education leaders come to Washington to talk about progress on their
Race to the Top plans. And much more. To prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, our commitment
to skills and education has to start earlier. In our top story, President Obama delivered
his State of the Union address to Congress and laid out his blueprint for an American
economy that's built to last. To keep the American promise alive, the President called
for a comprehensive approach to making college more affordable for all.
Higher education can't be a luxury, it is an economic imperative that every family in
America should be able to afford. A few days after the address, the President
and Arne traveled to the University of Michigan. Hello, Michigan! Where the President elaborated
on his plans to tackle the rising costs of college. He spoke about lowering tuition costs,
restraining the growth of tuition, helping to enroll and graduate more low-income students,
and improving the quality of a college education. So from now on, I'm telling Congress we should
steer Federal campus-based aid to those colleges that keep tuition affordable, provide good
value, serve their students well. Arne delivered the keynote address at the
2012 NCAA Convention in Indianapolis. In his speech, he asked college leaders to do more
to support the educational interests of student athletes, and to improve their graduation
rates. Working collectively, with conviction, and
with courage, and a willingness to step outside your comfort zones, I believe you will create
a better balance between athletics and academics. Educators from 11 states and the District
of Columbia convened in Washington to talk about their progress in the U.S. Department
of Education's Race to the Top program. Participants in the two-day meeting had an opportunity
to talk about successes and challenges, and to share strategies with education experts
and with one another. So I think Race to the Top is focused on the
right stuff for us as a national agenda to make sure that we don't fall behind other
nations and we are preparing our population for thriving in the 21st century.
Arne traveled to Florida to highlight the Administration's work to make college more
affordable -- and to strengthen postsecondary education so students are able to find good
jobs after graduation. At Tallahassee Community College, he talked with students and community
leaders at a town hall-style event, where the topic was how workforce training can help
to put people back to work and rebuild the economy.
I just can't overstate how important it is, the role that community colleges are going
to play in helping our country get back to where we need to go.
Arne visited Minneapolis to host a pair of town hall meetings. U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar
and Al Franken joined Arne for a meeting with high school students that focused on college
affordability. Later in the day, Arne and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton convened a
discussion about creating a world-class cradle to college and career education system. Minnesota
is the recent winner of a number of grants for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge,
Investing in Innovation, and Promise Neighborhoods. Arne and Assistant Secretary for Vocational
and Adult Education Brenda Dann-Messier visited Clayton, Ohio, to talk with students and teachers
about adult education and the role that career and technical training plays in rebuilding
the economy. Look it's all about our priorities.
The following day, Arne joined Vice President Joe Biden at visit to Lincoln High School
in Gahanna, Ohio, to discuss ways to keep college affordable. The Vice President called
on colleges and universities to do their part to contain costs and ensure college remains
within reach for the middle class. As Arne said, this is personal for me.
The Data Quality Campaign held its National Data Summit, and Arne was on hand to discuss
the critical role of statewide data systems in identifying "what works" in raising student
achievement. Really, what are we doing at every single
level to prepare students for the next step in their education journey.
Teach Plus, an organization dedicated to ensuring that effective and experienced teachers stay
in schools - especially schools serving low-income and minority students -- is now operating
in Washington, D.C. Arne stopped by for the launch of the program, where he had a chance
to congratulate their first cohort of Teaching Policy Fellows - 25 high- performing teachers
from D.C. public and charter schools. And they need the arts to develop their full
potential. Arne joined National PTA President-Elect Otha
Thornton for the opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony of an art exhibit by students from
the National PTA's Reflections Program. The ceremony also featured student performances
in dance, orchestra, and musical theater. Collaborations, PTA, with schools, with arts
organizations, we all have to get outside our comfort zone.
I know that I am a teacher in every cell of my body.
The documentary film "American Teacher" had a special showing at the Department of Education's
headquarters. Arne welcomed guests and Department staff to the screening of the film, which
documents the day-to-day lives and sacrifices of public school teachers,
Having a teacher that you can trust, you know, that will change lives.
I haven't worked at that many schools with an actual teachers' lounge.
"Teachers' Lounge," an original theater project created by a group of Washington, D.C., area
teachers, had its premiere in the Department's auditorium before a packed audience. The dramatic
presentation was directed by ED's Genevieve DeBose and Lisa Vasquez.
And 60 minutes of prep time a teacher gets a day.
60? Try 50. More like 45.
Okay. The cast of 14 teachers met every Monday for
a two-month period last Fall to write and rehearse the production, which focuses on
the teacher profession -- as it is now and what it might become.
What will you change? Bravo, teachers.
That's all for now. For updates, check out the blog on
And see you next month on School Days. I think about how it can get better, not just
for me, but for the students, too. I know, me too, but I wouldn't leave it for
the world. I think about leaving it every day. (Laughter.)