November: Nuestra Iniciativa Issue

Sign up to receive Nuestra Iniciativa every month. Nuestra Iniciativa HeaderNovember Newsletter
Alejandra Ceja, WHIEEH Executive Director

Welcome back to the monthly edition of Nuestra Iniciativa!  We hope you enjoyed celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month. 

The lapse in government may have temporarily halted our newsletter release but it has not kept the Initiative from remaining steadfast on advancing the critical education policy and outreach priorities for the Hispanic community.  This month's newsletter is filled with important updates on education programs and initiatives, including highlights from our National Summit on Hispanic Early Learning and Texas Back-to-School Tour. 

On behalf ED and the WHIEEH team, have a happy Thanksgiving!

Access our Nuestra Iniciativa Archives
Announcement: New WHIEEH Website

The WHIEEH has transitioned their website  to a new platform. It includes updated staff, commission and working group information, financial aid resources, a new blog page and more. Additional content will be added over the next several months. We'd love to hear from you; please send us your feedback and suggestions for improvements by emailing with the subject line: "WEBSITE".  

Access our new website here 

The Nation's Report Card
The Nation's Report Card

The Nation’s Report Card: 2013 Mathematics and Reading was released today by the National Center for Education Statistics, an independent research arm of the Department. 

For the first time, the complete findings are featured online at the new interactive website, Nation’s Report Card.  Highlights of the findings are also available online and in print.

National Summit on Early Learning Early Learning Colleagues

On September 18, business and not-for-profit leaders, educators, researchers and senior White House and ED officials met at Miami-Dade College to discuss early learning within the Hispanic community.  

Although Hispanic children represent the fastest-growing segment of the nation’s population under age 5, less than half are enrolled in an early learning program.  The day-long summit focused on existing research highlighting the benefits of quality early learning, its impact on national security and the economy, and the President’s Preschool for All initiative, while it encouraged the private and philanthropic sectors to increase investments, complementing federal investments, and the media to partner and raise awareness in the Hispanic community.

Don’t miss Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics James Heckman’s opening video, as well as video [1, 2, 3, 4, and 5] from the summit’s proceedings.

Read our National Summit Early Learning blog

WHIEEH Launches Monthly Webinar Series

In late October, the WHIEEH launched its monthly webinar series, the first focusing on Early Learning. 

Each webinar will aim to connect national and local leaders, while highlighting Bright Spots, throughout the nation, to discuss federal programs and initiatives, relevant policy issues and evidence-based practices that are benefiting the Hispanic community. 

Invitations for these webinars will be sent via email through the WHIEEH listerve. Stay up-to-date with webinar information here

4 Things You Need to Know About Repaying Your Student Loans Repayment Video

When it comes to repaying your federal student loans, there’s a lot to consider. But, by taking the time to understand the details of repayment, you can save yourself time and money. This should help you get started

College Rating System

President Obama put forward an ambitious new agenda to combat rising college costs, encourage colleges to improve their value, and empower students and families with information to help them make informed decisions about which college to attend. 

Making Education More Affordable Graphic

As part of this proposal, the President directed ED to develop a rating system to better inform students about their options and encourage colleges to improve.  

ED recently announced opportunities for the general public to interact with ED officials, as well as the broader education community, and share their ideas about how to develop the ratings and address the key themes of college access, affordability and outcomes.

Open forums started on November 6 at California State University. Others will take place in VA, IA and LA. Learn more about the open forums here

Common Core Guide for Parents
PTA Common Core Guide

The National PTA has released Common Core State Standards Assessment and Accountability guides.  These new resources will serve as a tool as states begin to transition to the new Common Core aligned assessments and will function as an important companion to the original Parents’ Guide to Student Success.  The free guides are available at Guides for every state implementing common core will be available by early 2014. 

Common Core Myth Busters

Continues from the August, 2013 Issue

Myth: The  Common Core State Standards tell teachers what to teach.

Fact: The best understanding of what works in the classroom comes from the teachers who are in them. That’s why these standards will establish what students need to learn, but they will not dictate how teachers should teach. Instead, schools and teachers will decide how best to help students reach the standards.

Myth: These Standards amount to a national curriculum for our schools.

Fact: The Standards are not a curriculum. They are a clear set of shared goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills will help our students succeed. Local teachers, principals, superintendents and others will decide how the standards are to be met. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms.

Texas Back-to-School TourTexas Map of Tour Stops

On September 4th, the Initiative began their south and west Texas Back-to-School Tour. After 9 stops in 7 cities over 3 days, they connected with students, parents, educators, administrators and community leaders, heard inspiring stories and saw first-hand the great work being done at the local level.  Read all about their visits here

Leader Spotlight
Mr. Jorge Ontiveros

During our back-to-school travels, we met Mr. Jorge Ontiveros, a 6th grade middle school teacher from Palomino Intermediate School in Phoenix, Arizona. 

What aspect of education are you most passionate about and why?  I am proud of what I do and know that every day is an opportunity to inspire students. I am able to provide them with key tools, outside of academics, which they will use in the classroom and throughout their lives such as respect, hard work, and honesty. I know that I can make a huge impact on the decisions each individual student will make.

You were raised in Arizona and decided to continue living and teaching there. Why?   This is my community and where I feel I can make a difference. I can understand and relate to the students and the parents so I feel needed and wanted here. My mom, although involved in my education, could not speak to my teachers. She relied on my sister to translate and translations are not always accurate. Being able to communicate in Spanish and relate to parents helps to foster the best learning environment for each student.

What can be done to expose more young men to the teaching profession? Currently, there is a lack of opportunities where students see male teachers in the classroom. We need to provide opportunities where they can mentor or tutor other students so they understand the impact they can have when helping others. 

What advice do you have for students that are considering becoming teachers? As a teacher, you become an authority figure. Embrace the opportunity to influence students even more so than in academics. This is very important to understand. You need to know that you have the opportunity to influence their life. Teacher's don't make much, but if you are passionate about teaching, money won’t matter. There are other ways to make money, such as tutoring. Follow your heart and make a difference in the life of a child. 

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ED Internships

ED is now accepting applications for Winter-Spring 2014 Internships. ED is the place where you can explore your interests in education policy research and analysis, intergovernmental relations and public affairs, or even work with social media while learning about the role Federal Government plays in education.

Learn how to apply here


Welcome New ED Staff

Libia Gil

Libia Gil, Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director, Office of English Language Acquisition

Libby Doggett

Libby Doggett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning

Catherine Lhamon

Catherine LhamonAssistant Secretary for Civil Rights

Latina Style Magazine

Alejandra Ceja

Read about Alejandra Ceja's personal journey and educational priorities for the Hispanic Community in this month's issue of Latina Style magazine. "My journey is living proof that the American Dream shouldn't be optional – every student in America needs an opportunity to learn and thrive."

Read here


Univision's "Go 4 It!"

Es El Momento - Univision Logo

Univision launched their "Go 4 it!" site. This bilingual go-to section contains helpful information for future and current college and university students! Make sure to check it out here


Latino Academic Achievement

Video to View the Keynote Remarks

Listen here to Executive Director Alejandra Ceja's keynote address at the SJ/SV 2020 Symposium. Her remarks focused on recommendations for improving academic achievement of Latino students.  

Did You Know?

Spanish is, by far, the most spoken non-English language in the U.S. The next most spoken non-English languages are Chinese (with 2.8 million speakers), Hindi, Urdu or other Indic languages (2.2 million), French or French Creole (2.1 million), and Tagalog (1.7 million).

ESEA Flexibility

Secretary Duncan recently announced that both Texas and Puerto Rico will receive flexibility from the burdensome mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  In exchange for this new flexibility, Puerto Rico and Texas have agreed to raise academic standards, improve accountability, and undertake essential reforms to boost teacher effectiveness. 

ED has now approved waiver requests from 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.  Four applications remain under review, and five states have not requested flexibility through this process.

Hispanic Heritage Month Presidential Proclamation

"From the earliest days of our Republic, Hispanic Americans have written crucial chapters in our national story. Hispanics have honorably defended our country in war and built prosperity during times of peace. They run successful businesses, teach our next generation of leaders, and pioneer scientific and technological breakthroughs. This month, America acknowledges these vital contributions and celebrates our Hispanic heritage." Read the entire proclamation by the President for the National Hispanic Heritage Month 2013.

College- and Career- Ready Transition Flexibility

This summer, Secretary Duncan declared in a letter to Chief State School Officers that ED is open to providing additional flexibility for states during the transition to new assessments aligned with college- and career-ready standards.  Guidance on and templates for applying for the flexibilities are posted here.


Colbert Report

Watch Secretary Duncan discuss the Race to the Top initiative and Preschool for All proposal on the The Colbert Report.

Grants Awarded

Before the federal government shutdown, the Department awarded grants under a number of competitive programs, such as the School Leadership Program, the Arts in Education Program, the Carol M. White Physical Education Program, the Charter Schools Program, the Magnet School Assistance Program, the Strengthening Higher Education Institutions Program, the new Promoting the Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE) Initiative, and the Educational Facilities Clearinghouse Program.

ED's Office for Civil Rights

First-of-Its Kind Resolution of Virtual Charter School Civil Rights Investigation 

Voluntary Resolution of Schenectady, N.Y., City School District Compliance Review

White House News

Champions of Change: Welcoming America 

The White House highlighted ten local heroes, who are “Champions of Change”, who work tirelessly to effectively integrate immigrants civically, linguistically, and socially into the fabric of their neighborhoods by bringing all residents together to create welcoming communities. Learn more about our Champions 

First Lady Michelle Obama Announcement  

Video of Rosita talking about Let's Move

Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association joined the Partnership for a Healthier America. 

This two-year agreement will help promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption to kids, making those healthy choices a little easier for busy parents and families to make. This is particularly important for Latino families, as Latino children have high rates of childhood obesity.

Check out the video message from Elmo and Rosita, Sesame Street’s first bilingual puppet.

The Department of Health and Human Services are intensifying efforts to inform Hispanic Americans about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and the new Health Insurance Marketplaces.

  • Open Enrollment Began October 1, 2013; 
  • Coverage Begins January 1, 2014 and 
  • Open Enrollment Closes March 31, 2014. 

Learn more at: 

Learn about the important fixes to the application and enrollment system to improve performance and functionality here


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