Prior to joining the Department, Alejandra Ceja served as the Senior Budget and Appropriations Advisor for the House Committee on Education and Labor. Alejandra has also held positions at the White House Office of Management and Budget, the Indianapolis Private Industry Council, and in Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard's office.
A native of Huntington Park, CA, she holds her
undergraduate degree in Political Science from Mount St. Mary’s College in Los
Angeles, and a Master's degree in Public Administration from Baruch College,
City University of New York. She is a board member of Mary’s Center for
Maternal and Child Care and is a graduate of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus
Institute’s Public Policy Fellowship, the National Hispana Leadership Institute
and the National Urban Fellows program.
Access the Press Release here.
ED released the Blueprint for RESPECT (Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching) on April 25, 2013. This outline is the Obama Administration’s guide to advancing the teaching profession and ensuring that those in this honorable profession receive the respect they deserve.
behind this blueprint originated in February 2012 after the President
expressed his dedication to support teacher based educational policy. To create
this blueprint, the Department of Education took the input of educators around
the nation into account.
Learn more and visit our new RESPECT website.
Sawchuck covers the release of the Blueprint for
RESPECT and related materials in EdWeek.
Listen to what Diego Moreno, Spanish Teacher, and other teachers around the nation have to say about what RESPECT means to them!
The National Teacher of the Year is
chosen from among the State Teachers of the Year by a committee of 15 national
education organizations, organized by the Council of Chief State School
Officers. This year’s winner, Jeff Charbonneau, is a chemistry, physics,
and engineering teacher at Zillah High School in Zillah, Washington, where he
has spent his entire 12-year teaching career. During the year, he is
released from classroom duties to travel the country as a spokesperson and
advocate for the teaching profession. Check out Jeff's CBS Morning News interview.
Obama and Secretary Duncan honored Charbonneau and the State Teachers of the
Year at the White House on April 23 with a ceremony
in the Rose Garden. In his remarks,
the President thanked teachers for their commitment to America’s young people:
Also honored were Principals
of the Year selected by NASSP (secondary school principals) and NAESP
(elementary). In the Rose Garden, President Obama stressed the importance of
having strong school leadership. "Unless they [principals] do their job," he
said, "it's very difficult for even great teachers to do theirs." Read the ED
A migrant farm worker in Michigan, now a student, community leader, and most importantly a mother, Merylee Juarez has become an advocate for migrant education in her community.
do you feel people don’t understand about migrant life? I don’t think people understand just how hard migrant
life is. I worked in the fields starting at the age of 10 picking blueberries.
I also had school and had to take care of my younger siblings while my parents
were working late nights. I managed school, work and all my other family
responsibilities. Having to migrant back and forth seasonally from Texas to
Michigan also made the school transitions difficult.
was difficult about getting an education while you were a migrant worker? I remember it was hard completing my homework and
balancing school with everything else. It was most difficult when I entered high
school and the credits would get mixed up or simply would not transfer from my
Michigan high school to my Texas high school. Because we migrated, I also
would not get credit for classes because I missed too many days of school.
is the High School Equivalency Program (HEP)? I dropped out of high school in the 10th
grade and the High School
Equivalency Program (HEP) helped me obtain my GED. HEP is a program that is
part of the Office of Migrant Education which helps migratory and seasonal
farmworkers (or children of such workers) who are 16 years of age or older and
not currently enrolled in school, to obtain the equivalent of a high school
diploma and subsequently, to gain employment or begin post-secondary education
participating in HEP change your life? Yes, very much. Before I enrolled in HEP, I wanted to
return to school and had completed an online course to obtain my high school diploma.
Thinking I had received my diploma, I tried to enroll in college, but no one
accepted the diploma. Little did I know that I had spent time and money on a
course that wasn’t accredited! Soon after, I discovered the HEP program. The
program was not only educational, leading me to complete my GED, but the staff also
helped me find a job. And they have
provided me with guidance ever since.
advice would you give to migrant students and mothers? I was one of six children, and now the mother of three.
I appreciate the experience life has given me and the lessons I’ve learned. I
plan to pass those lessons on to my children. When I speak to students I tell
them to never give up on their dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem.
I also tell parents that there is always help around the corner, whether
through programs like HEP or a community support system. Don’t be afraid to ask
for assistance. There are people that really care.
more about Merylee in the blog post she dedicated to her mother for Mother's Day.
Great teaching can change a child’s life. That kind of teaching is a
remarkable combination of things: art, science, inspiration, talent, gift, and —
always — incredibly hard work. It requires relationship building, subject
expertise and a deep understanding of the craft. Our celebrated athletes and
performers have nothing on our best teachers.
But, in honoring teachers, I think Teacher Appreciation Week needs an update.
Don’t get me wrong — teachers have earned every bagel breakfast, celebratory
bulletin board, gift card and thank-you note. Given the importance of their work
and the challenges they face, teachers absolutely deserve every form of
appreciation their communities can muster. Read the rest of this blog post.
ED announced that
beginning with the 2014-2015 federal student aid form, it will –
for the first time – collect income and other information from a dependent
student’s legal parents regardless of the parents’ marital status or gender, if
those parents live together.
The Free Application for
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will provide a new option for dependent applicants
to describe their parents’ marital status as “unmarried and both parents living
together.” Additionally, where appropriate, the new FAFSA will use terms
like “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” instead of gender-specific terms such as
“mother” and “father.” Read more here.
10, 2013 became the National Day of Action for immigration reform. Rallies were
held all around the nation, including a rally of thousands here at our
nation’s capital. Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier supported by participating in a conversation at Georgetown University. This event included international STEM graduates from various backgrounds who discussed their perspective on immigration.
This active support for reform has been in response to the
immigration bill proposed by the gang of eight senators. This bill includes provisions
that would allow the 11 million undocumented individuals in our country to be
eligible for citizenship.
To learn more about the President’s response
to the Senate bill in relation to his proposals, read here.
During President Obama’s visit to
Mexico City, he and President Pena Nieto announced two bilateral
initiatives: a High-Level Economic
Dialogue to promote jobs, trade, and economic growth; and a Bilateral Forum on Higher
Education and Innovative Research to promote mutual economic prosperity,
expanded opportunity, job creation, and the development of a 21st century
workforce in both countries.