arne duncan

arne duncan

College Presidents Meet with Obama to Discuss Graduation Rates, College Costs

President Barack Obama Official Portrait President Obama asked to meet with a dozen university presidents in a round-table discussion on Monday. Some of the educators in attendance included Carnegie Mellon University President Jared L. Cohon, California State University Long Beach President F. King Alexander, University of Maryland Baltimore County Freeman A. Hrabowski III and Ivy Tech Community College President Mr. Thomas Snyder. In addition to the presidents, Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan and two representatives from nonprofit education organizations were also in attendance. Topics surrounded tuition affordability and productivity of U.S. higher education.

“It was an unusually interesting meeting, and not your usual list of college presidents,” Jane Wellmansaid, founder and director of the nonprofit Delta Project, which studies the price of tuition. “These were all people who had led institutions that had done something about reducing spending or improving student learning.”

Wellman said there was good discussion on how to decrease tuition costs and what type of role the government should have in increasing graduation rates. Some of the

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Obama Offers Waivers to States Struggling to Meet No Child Left Behind

Secretary of Education Arne DuncanIn a speech this morning, President Obama announced large-scale changes to the federal No Child Left Behind education law, alongside Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. States will now be allowed to receive waivers from certain parts of No Child Left Behind, as long as they agree to take steps towards improving schools and increasing accountability.

“The goals behind No Child Left Behind were admirable … but experience has taught us that in its implementation, [it] had some serious flaws that are hurting our children,” said Obama. Some states have relaxed their standards in order to meet the requirements dictated by No Child Left Behind and many educators feel that learning suffers when teachers are pushed to “teach to the test, two problems the new policy hopes to amend.

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Majority of Schools May Miss No Child Left Behind Guidelines

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is expressing concern for America’s schools. As high as 82 percent of schools in the nation could fail to meet the goals set by the No Child Left Behind law. This percentage is 45 percent higher than the failing numbers of 2010.

Duncan is calling for Congress to examine the law put in place by the Bush administration to make sure students get the best possible education. Unfortunately, No Child Left Behind created numerous ways for schools to fail but very few ways for schools to succeed. Duncan believes that the current rules prevent states from tailoring the school curriculum because all states are required to use uniform standards. Duncan’s assessment and proposal to change the law have been met with some criticism that changing things would give underperforming schools a free pass.

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Obama Asks for $4.5 Billion Increase in Education Spending

President Barack Obama and Secritary of Education Arne DuncanAs part of the 2012 budget proposal, President Obama is asking for $77.4 billion for  education spending, an increase of $4.5 billion over last year. The funds will go towards teacher training in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math), and towards re-writing the No Child Left Behind bill.

Eighty million dollars will go towards recruiting new teachers in the STEM areas. “Engineering and math, critical thinking, problem solving–these are the kinds of subjects and skills that our kids need to achieve success in the 21st century,” said Obama of the proposal. He is also asking for $900 million for Race to the Top.

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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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Student Loan Default Rates on the Rise

loan applicationFeb. 11, 2011 is the day my first student loan payment is due and like most students, I’m dreading repayment. While some students can handle the monthly amount, others are struggling to find work and the income to pay off their debt. In a tough job market, it’s no surprise that the student loan default rate continues to increase.

Education secretary Arne Duncan released a statement last Monday saying that he isn’t happy with the continued rise of student loan default rates. He attributes a significant amount of default rates to for-profit colleges, like the University of Phoenix or National American University.

“While for-profit schools have profited and prospered thanks to federal dollars, some of their students have not,” Duncan said in a statement on Sept. 13. “Far too many for-profit schools are saddling students with debt they cannot afford in exchange for degrees and certificates they cannot use.”

Duncan said that as of the 2008 fiscal year, the most recent period for which data is applicable, the total student loan default rate was 7 percent. The fiscal year before that, it was 6.7 percent. And before that it was 5.2 percent. Read the rest of this entry »

Standardized Tests Finally to Receive Overhaul

new-standardized-testsIt appears that bubbles will be banished in the new system of standardized testing. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced yesterday that the new state standardized tests will be computer-based, to better evaluate students ability to synthesize information and conduct research projects. “The use of smarter technology in assessments,” Mr. Duncan explains, “makes it possible to assess students by asking them to design products of experiments, to manipulate parameters, run tests and record data.”

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Obama’s Race to the Top Finalists Announced

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.

School budgets have been stretched tight with the nation’s recent economic recession. Last year in my hometown, Wichita, KS, several schools were forced to give up yearly field trips. And this year, the school district is proposing to do away with driver’s education. Hopefully with Obama’s Race to the Top competition, some states will be able to lessen this financial strain.race to the top

As of July 27, eighteen states and the District of Columbia could win part of the $3.4 billion in education grants to assist in an overhaul of education policies.

In this second round of the competition, federal officials say they anticipate 10 to 15 winners that will receive federal financing. The winning states will be revealed in September.

Here are the 19 finalists: Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina. Read the rest of this entry »

Longer School Days Proposed for Some American Schools

chalkboardI remember watching the clock tick ever so slowly as the school day came to an end. I, like my fellow classmates, couldn’t wait until 3 p.m. But now, some students will have to watch the clock tick all the way to 5 p.m.

President Obama, along with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, have been pushing for a lengthier school day. Duncan wants American children to keep up with other schools around the world.

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Michelle Obama Targets Summer Learning Loss, Childhood Obesity

Lets read lets moveSchools out for summer and across America kids are dreaming of ice cream trucks and afternoon snacks of junk food binges.

So naturally, our nation’s leaders are nervous about the tendency of education backslide and the natural plunge into awful eating habits. Especially since reports have shown that an estimated one-third of American children are overweight or obese.

As a result, first lady Michelle Obama, an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, collaborated on a new campaign to undertake childhood obesity, specifically targeting summer break.

Members of the Obama cabinet joined her in unveiling the administration’s “Lets Read. Lets Move.” campaign. In cooperation with the Corporation for National and Community Service, the project’s goal is to encourage continued reading (specifically the program aims for children to read five books during summer vacation), exercise frequently and a maintain healthy lifestyle. Read the rest of this entry »


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