Nuestra Iniciativa: May 2013 Issue

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Nuestra Iniciativa HeaderMay 2013Marco Davis, WHIEEH Deputy Director
Alejandra Ceja, New WHIEEH Executive Director
Alejandra Ceja

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

Giving Teachers RESPECT
RESPECT Blueprint

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.

The ideas 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.  

Stephen Sawchuck covers the release of the Blueprint for RESPECT and related materials in EdWeek. 

Diego Moreno and other teachers talk about RESPECT

Listen to what Diego Moreno, Spanish Teacher, and other teachers around the nation have to say about what RESPECT means to them!

White House Honors Teachers of the YearTeachers of the Year

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. 

President 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: 

Quote from President Obama during Teachers of the Year

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 blog

Young Leader Spotlight
Merylee Juarez

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. 

What 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.

What 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.

What 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 or training.

Did 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.

What 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.

Read more about Merylee in the blog post she dedicated to her mother for Mother's Day.  

Blog Post by Arne Duncan

by Arne Duncan

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

Exciting New FAFSA ChangesFAFSA

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.  

National Day of Action

April 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

POTUS in Mexico

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. 

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Stay Connected to the WHIEEHFacebookTwitterTeacher AppreciationTeachers

In order to honor and celebrate educators across the country, Teacher Appreciation Day was established by Arkansas teacher Mattye Whyte Woodridge, with the help of Eleanor Roosevelt, in 1953. Teacher Appreciation Day evolved into a week-long observance held during the first full week of May. This week gives us the opportunity to show gratitude to teachers for all the effort they put in each day and the education society receives because of them.

Mother's DayMother's

On the second Sunday of May, mothers across the country are celebrated for the invaluable dedication they give to their children. After several years of struggling to establish a national day of recognition for mothers, Anna Jarvis successfully encouraged President Woodrow Wilson to make an official national holiday in 1914.

President's Proclamation Sign Up 4 Teaching MattersTeaching Matters

Teaching Matters is a weekly newsletter focused on teaching practices, tools and recommended readings for teachers as well as information about what is going on at ED. You can sign up to receive Teaching Matters and view past editions here

Honoring Green SchoolsU.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Awardees.

Secretary Duncan announced 2013 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools honorees at Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School.  Sixty-four schools were recognized for their exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education, including civics and green career pathways. 

Abroad Program Opportunity

Deadline: 7/13/2013

Under the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program, the funds will support overseas projects in training, research, and curriculum development in modern foreign languages and area studies for teachers, students, and faculty engaged in a common endeavor. Projects may include short-term seminars, curriculum development, or group research/ study.  Get more information here

Loan Repayment OptionsRepayment Calculator

Use our repayment comparison calculator to quickly calculate estimated monthly payment amounts under several repayment plans. 

Manage Your Loans

Income Based Repayment helps undergrads manage their loan repayment. If you qualify, you can pay for your loan based on 15 percent of your discretionary income. 

Certain careers are eligible for Loan Forgiveness. Considering a job as a teacher or public service can allow you to be eligible for Loan Forgiveness


Helping Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities

Members of the public are invited to participate in an online dialogue to examine the impact of existing federal regulations and legislation on the successful transition from school to work of youth and young adults with disabilities.

The event, May 13-27, will invite policymakers, educators, service providers, families, youth, the advocacy community and others to join this conversation to improve transition outcomes. 

Learn more & register.  


Research in Review

*An increase in the proportion of Hispanic teachers in large urban high school systems with high Hispanic enrollments reduced the dropout rates and boosted the college-going rates of Hispanic students. Learn more.

More Resources

Parent Power


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