OVAE Connection - Issue 155 - June 20, 2013

OVAE Connection

                                                             June 20, 2013 - Issue 155


                                          Photograph by Bill Moser, U.S. Department of Education

OVAE Welcomes Kristie Brackens

The newest addition to OVAE’s Division of Adult Education and Literacy (DAEL) is Kristie Brackens. She is participating in the President’s Management Council Interagency Rotational Program, which enables potential federal leaders to develop their management skills, obtain varied organizational experiences, and increase their networks for future advantage. During the next six months, Brackens will work on planning and implementing ED’s correctional education and reentry strategy with a special emphasis on juveniles. She also will support cross-divisional work addressing CTE, community colleges, and adult education for several OVAE initiatives such as career pathways, college and career readiness standards, and enhanced educational technology utilization.

In addition to having a Masters of Public Administration, Masters of Science in justice studies, and Bachelor of Science in justice studies degrees (the last, magna cum laude) from Arizona State University (ASU), Brackens comes to OVAE with over 14 years of experience in the juvenile and criminal justice fields. She began her career as a youth supervisor in the Maricopa County Juvenile Detention Center while pursuing her graduate studies at ASU. Her experience working with detained youths fueled her desire to see a juvenile justice system that is fair, so that youths in similar circumstances receive similar outcomes. Brackens believes that the system also needs to be proactive rather than just reactive. She has said, jokingly, that she wants to work her way out of a job. Currently, she is a juvenile justice specialist with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). There, Brackens coordinates demonstration site work for the attorney general’s Defending Childhood Initiative as well as for both the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention and the Community Based Violence Prevention programs. She works with states receiving formula and block grant funding for delinquency prevention under Title II of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. She also works with states to reduce the over-representation of minority youths at the various contact points throughout their juvenile justice systems.

Brackens sees this opportunity to work in OVAE as an excellent way to gain valuable knowledge and skills to address emerging problems within the juvenile justice field that intersect with our work here at ED, such as the school-to-prison pipelines, quality of correctional education, access to education for transferred youths in adult correctional facilities, and re-entry back into their communities.

Strategic Plan for Disconnected Youths From the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs

                                       Readers' Ideas for Pilot Partnerships Welcome

The Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP), comprising 12 federal departments and five federal agencies that support activities with a focus on all youths, has released Pathways for Youth, its strategic plan for improving outcomes for youths, particularly the most vulnerable, through collaboration. Based on input from young people, families, schools, nonprofit organizations, state children’s cabinet directors, federal, state and local government organizations, and other stakeholders, the plan includes:

  • a vision emphasizing “meaningful connections and safe, healthy, and stable places to live, learn, and work”;
  • three goals promoting: (1) coordinated strategies to improve youth outcomes; (2) the use of evidence-based and innovative strategies at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels; and (3) youth engagement and partnerships to strengthen programs and benefit youths; and
  • various cross-cutting strategies for federal collaboration.

Among the populations that Pathways for Youth aims to support are youths who are disconnected from school, work, and family. The Interagency Forum on Disconnected Youth (IFDY), was, thus, established by the 2013 President’s Budget to improve the educational, employment, and other key outcomes for disconnected youths through interagency and intergovernmental collaboration. Through the Department of Education, the Forum published, in the June 2012 Federal Register, a Request for Information (RFI) to gather feedback on how states and localities could utilize proposed Performance Partnership Pilots, which would increase flexibility in funding to serve disconnected youths. The RFI responses, which identified barriers, promising initiatives, best practices, and recommendations, were compiled and summarized. Now you may provide further feedback on using the proposed pilots by clicking on the link.

Finally, the IWGYP has launched a new website, A Guide to Evidence and Innovation, for those who are looking for ways to select and implement evidence-based strategies. It contains evidence-based program directories, lessons from experts in the field, explanations of the stages of implementation, resources on federal tiered initiatives for youths, a framework of evidence standards, and information for communities to select, implement, sustain, and evaluate evidence-based programs for children and youths.

Cooking Up Change Competition Features CTE Skills

                                            Get Ready for 2014 Competition

On June 10, eight teams of student chefs that had won local competitions came to the U Department’s cafeteria in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Building in Washington, D.C., for a final cook-off. Equipped with identical, healthy ingredients and with preparation limited to six or fewer steps (so the winning recipe could be recreated for school lunchrooms across the country), teams from Chicago, Denver, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Memphis, Orange County (Calif.), St. Louis, and Winston-Salem created and prepared meals. Their offerings also had to include one main dish and two sides and contain no more than 10 ingredients selected from a common list. The dishes were judged based on their originality, taste, appearance, and presentation. The teams’ main dishes featured chicken, catfish, corn and beans, and turkey chili. The team from Orange County, Calif. won the grand prize for its “Pita Packs a Punch,” which was served with hot and sweet slaw, and apple crêpes. The future of school food was the focus, with creative thinking, planning within a budget, and teamwork under pressure just as much ingredients for success as were the food items themselves. School districts where there is a culinary arts program may inquire about the plans for 2014 competition through sara@healthyschoolscampaign.org . 

Unleashing America's Research and Innovation Potential Through Grand, Transdisciplinary Challenges

It has long been recognized that a strong national investment in advanced science, engineering, education, and technological development is vital to a nation’s economic and social well-being. To further this objective, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has published ARISE II: Unleashing America’s Research & Innovation Enterprise, which supplements ARISE (2008). Sensing greater international competition for preeminence in these fields, the report argues that leading scholars and scientists across these disciplines need to develop transdisciplinary collaborations to meet the pressing challenges in all branches of the sciences. 

ARISE II focuses on two guiding goals: (1) promoting a conceptual and functional integration across the disciplines; and (2) fostering interactions among academia, government, and the private sector to meet the most pressing societal challenges.

According to ARISE II, achieving these goals is daunting and will involve “radical changes” in the way individuals from academia, government, and the private sector conduct research. The report highlights how the physical sciences and the life sciences have pursued different paths to arrive at their current practices. Historically, practical concerns have guided the physical sciences (e.g., solving problems like the development of viable spacecraft), whereas the life sciences have pursued “scientific excellence” in understanding basic biological processes until the relatively recent emergence of biotechnology. By recognizing the differences in these cultures, and learning from each field’s past challenges and successes, the United Sates has the opportunity to get the best of both worlds by integrating and expanding these two different approaches to scientific creativity and innovation. 

To reach goal one—“moving from interdisciplinary to transdisciplinary”—the critical step is to provide incentives and remove barriers “so that the tools and expertise developed within discrete disciplines is [sic] shared and combined to enable a deep conceptual and functional integration across the disciplines.” To reach the second goal—the promotion of cooperative, synergistic interactions among the academic, government, and private sectors—such interaction must be constant throughout the discovery and development process. This move to transdisciplinarity poses a great challenge for American education. Achieving these goals requires deep learning, an education that transcends technical competence and training. These interactions are predicated on the requirement for discipline-based expertise on the part of the collaborators, in contrast with the often-suggested view of bringing novices together to solve problems through interdisciplinary learning exercises. “The academic, government, and private sectors must develop an inclusive and adaptive environment that ensures that the unique objectives, skills, and points of view of the different sectors are integrated and optimally utilized.” 

To promote this collaboration in addressing major societal issues, the report also recommends establishing one or more “grand challenges” that can capture the public imagination to motivate transdisciplinary work across academia, government, and the private sector.