The U.S. Department of Education Should Think Before It Tweets

department of education

The U.S. Department of Education Should Think Before It Tweets

This week the U.S. Department of Education gave us an excellent example of what NOT to tweet out to the many college students who will be hoping for student aid this school year. It also showed it’s about as good at social media as the average “cool” parent.

bad tweet (600x360)

In what can only be described as an attempt to be hip gone awry, Federal Student Aid, @FAFSA, tweeted to its followers a still from the movie “Bridesmaids” accompanied with the quote, “Help me. I’m poor.” While a funny quote that I’ve often used myself when feeling particularly broke, it’s probably not appropriate when coming from the Education Department. Especially when sent out with the caption, “If this is you, then you better fill out your FAFSA: fafsa.gov.”

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Study Says Students Should Study at Least 2 Hours Daily

How much time do you spend doing homework each night? If your answer is less than two hours, you might want to start studying more until you reach that number.

According to a study from the UK that followed 3,000 students during the past 15 years, students who spend two hours studying each night do better in English, math and science. The study by the United Kingdom’s Department of Education found that studying between two and three hours had the best results for students.

“That’s one of the reasons Indian and Chinese children do better [in school],” said Pam Sammons, an education professor at University of Oxford, about the findings of the study. “They tend to put more time in. It’s to do with your effort as well as your ability.”

So does this mean that you should start studying for 10 hours every day? After all, if a little bit is good, then a lot must be better, right? Well, not exactly.

“What we’re not saying is that everyone should do large amounts, but if we could shift some of those who spend no time or half an hour into [doing] one to two hours [it would be better],” Sammons continued. “One of the reasons private schools results are better is that there’s more expectation of homework.”

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Congress Makes Temporary Budget Cuts to Education Programs

Fears loom over educators’ heads this week as the possibility of permanent budget cuts to several education programs comes closer to a reality. Over a dozen of high-profile education programs were cut from a stopgap spending measure after President Obama signed a two-week funding bill on March 2.

The bill, which extends to March 18, plans to keep the government operating while Republicans and Democrats try to come to an agreement in spending for the rest of the fiscal year.

Programs, like Teach for America, Even Start and Striving Readers, took heavy blows to their funding after Republicans insisted on cutting the Department of Education’s budget by nearly $750 million. The department’s most current arbitrary budget sits at $46.8 billion.

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Less Than Half of New Jersey Students Graduate in Four Years

Graduation prospects are glum for New Jersey college students. Less than half will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in four years.

A Star-Ledger summary of graduation statistics from campuses around the state found that four-year graduation rates varied  from 6 percent at New Jersey City University to 90 percent at Princeton University. Data was gathered from the federal Department of Education’s latest statics, which were compiled in 2008.

“This is not the best we can do,” said Kean University President, Dawood Farahi. “We need to shift the paradigm. We need to focus on the student outcomes and the graduation of the students.”

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Government to Tighten For-Profit Schools

University of Phoenix, San Antonio

University of Phoenix, San Antonio

The government is tightening controls on for-profit colleges in an effort to stem growing levels of student dept. The new regulations are designed to protect students from misleading recruitment tactics and from accumulating large loans. Some reports say that after 15 years, 40 percent of students attending for-profit schools will default on loan payments. A high percentage of these students are recipients of federal loans.

“These schools — and their investors — benefit from billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, and, in return, taxpayers have a right to know that all of these programs are providing solid preparation for a job,” said Arne Duncan in a July 23 statement.

The regulations, known as the Gainful Employment proposal, will require for-profit schools to disclose their past graduation rates and history of job placement. It will require that new programs seeking federal aid must prove that the program will actually give students in-demand skills in growing industries. The proposal also prevents colleges from paying recruiters based on the number of students they enroll.

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Arne Duncan Warns America of Teacher Shortage

arne-duncan-teachersIn an interview at NBC’s Education Nation Summit yesterday, Arne Duncan warned that the U.S. may face a shortage of teachers in the next decade. The expected shortfall is due to baby boomers retiring at a higher rate than young teachers are entering the field.

Duncan announced a new campaign that aims to aggressively recruit young people to fill the void. They particularly encourage students to consider becoming math, science, and special education teachers. Duncan also hopes to encourage more men to enter the teaching profession. “If we’re serious about having young men aspire to go to college, we have to put men in their lives,” said Duncan. He pointed out that only 3.5 percent of America’s teachers are black or Hispanic men.

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Race to the Top Awards $3.4 Billion in Grants

race-to-the-topAll of America has been anxiously awaiting the U.S. Education Department’s announcement regarding the winners of the second and final round of the Race to the Top competition.

Thirty-five states and Washington D.C. all submitted applications that were then narrowed down to 19 finalists a couple of months ago.

CNN.com released the news via twitter that the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island are the lucky recipients of the contest prize. Read the rest of this entry »



What is the Race to the Top Fund?

department of education

UPDATE [1/27/11]: President Obama discussed the success of Race to the Top in his State of the Union address on January 25th. “Race to the Top in the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning…and Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that’s more flexible and focused on what’s best for our kids.” Since the program’s initiation, it has help 25,000 schools nationwide and 13.6 million students, according to White House statistics.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the Race to the Top program. Which states have already applied for funding? Which states are not going to apply? Is it too political? Is it expecting too much of teachers? What exactly is it? The Race to the Top program is a $4 billion grant program created by the Department of Education and signed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

It was created to encourage states to assess and improve students’ education and performance. It is also intended to enable schools to hire and keep high-quality teachers. States must apply for the funding, and if they qualify, they could receive up to $700 million to improve their schools.

States are evaluated on several criteria. The biggest factor is if they have “a comprehensive and coherent reform agenda.” The quality of the teachers and having common standards are also factors used during the evaluation process.

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Is the Degree You’re Working Toward Worth the Paper it’s Printed on?

Is Your Degree From a Properly Accredited School?

Is Your Degree From a Properly Accredited School?

When researching colleges, which criteria are most important to you? Unless you want to spend the next few years working toward a degree only to find that it isn’t recognized by the company that is interviewing you for your dream job, researching the accreditation of your school of choice is imperative. Accreditation lends legitimacy to your degree by ensuring that your school of choice meets a set of standards set forth by the institution that issues such accreditation. Most schools you consider attending will be able to claim that they are accredited, but by who? It is equally important to understand who is issuing the accreditation and what value that accreditation has for you before selecting a school. Read the rest of this entry »



First Lady Gives Pep Talk to Department of Education

On February 2, First Lady Michelle Obama visited the Department of Education to give employees a pep talk.  She praised new Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and said that she herself was a product of the department’s work.

Here’s what the First Lady had to say.





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