Summer 2018

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Summer 2018 Issue

"This administration understands that a dynamic and changing economy requires dynamic and changing approaches to education and workforce development.  The partnerships announced … involve those who are best-positioned to identify ideas and drive solutions. The president’s new initiative helps engage leaders across diverse sectors, in an effort to open new pathways and opportunities for America’s students who should be free to pursue successful careers and meaningful lives.”         

 —Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a statement on the president’s Executive Order supporting America’s workers

Perkins Act Reauthorization


On July 31, President Trump signed into law H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, reauthorizing and modifying the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.  “I applaud Congress for its tremendous, bipartisan effort to reauthorize [Perkins],” the President said in a statement on the passage of the legislation.  

“In the twelve years since Congress passed the last Perkins reauthorization, the economy has evolved tremendously, becoming increasingly dependent on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and other skilled labor.  The White House, led by [Senior Advisor to the President] Ivanka Trump, was strongly engaged every step of the way to ensure passage of this critical legislation to provide students and workers the training necessary to succeed in a 21st century economy.  By enacting it into law, we will continue to prepare students for today’s constantly shifting job market, and we will help employers find the workers they need to compete.” 

“This is an important day for America’s students, workers and our economy,” Secretary DeVos declared in her own statement.  “Congress came together to expand educational pathways and opportunities and give local communities greater flexibility in how best to prepare students for the jobs of today and tomorrow.  I look forward to seeing President Trump sign this bill into law and make yet another important investment in our future.” 

A White House fact sheet outlines the Trump administration’s range of actions to better prepare American workers. Learn more about this law and how it will impact career and technical education in our schools.

Perkins Stat

Supporting America's Workers

On July 19, President Trump signed an Executive Order to prioritize and expand workforce development.  This order also established the National Council for the American Worker, composed of senior administration officials who will develop a national strategy for training and re-training workers for high-demand industries. It will launch a nationwide campaign to highlight the growing vocational crisis and promote careers in skilled trades, technology, and manufacturing.  The order also forms an American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, comprising leaders from the private sector, education institutions, philanthropic organizations, and state governments, who will work with the administration to implement results-driven job training programs in classrooms and workplaces across the country. 

At the signing event, the president urged companies and trade groups to sign a Pledge to America’s Workers — a commitment to expanding apprenticeships, increasing on-the-job training, and providing Americans from high school to near-retirement with opportunities to obtain skills to secure stable jobs and careers in the modern economy. 

Twenty-three companies and associations were the first to sign the pledge at the White House.  “By signing the Pledge to America’s Workers, these great companies … are affirming their commitment to train American workers for American jobs,” the president emphasized.  “Because America’s strength, America’s heart, and America’s soul is found in our people”. 

Moreover, the White House Council of Economic Advisors released a report outlining the importance of re-skilling America’s workers for the jobs of the future.

Federal Commission on School Safety Updates


The Federal Commission on School Safety (Commission), under the leadership of Secretary DeVos (chairwoman), has been busy over the summer with public meetings and site visits. Here is a summary of the Commission’s key events and meetings from this summer:

June 21: The Commission held a formal meeting at the White House titled “The Ecology of Schools: Fostering a Culture of Human Flourishing and Developing Character.”  Secretary DeVos, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan, and Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Claire Grady heard from three different panels of experts on how entertainment, media, cyberbullying, and social media may affect violence and school safety (press release and video).

June 26: The Commission held its second listening session at the Council of State Governments headquarters building in Lexington, Kentucky.  This session was an opportunity for members of the public, as well as state and local officials, to share with Deputy Secretary of Education Mitchell Zais and other representatives from the Commission their views on how schools, school districts, institutions of higher education, and local and state government agencies may improve school safety.  The session was divided into three parts: two roundtable discussions and a public comment period (video). 

July 11: The Commission held its second meeting at the White House titled “Curating a Healthier and Safer Approach: Issues of Mental Health and Counseling for Our Young.”  Secretary DeVos, Secretary Azar, Attorney General Sessions, and Secretary Nielsen heard from three different panels of experts on behavioral health integration in America’s schools (media advisory and video). 

July 24: Secretary DeVos, Secretary Azar, and representatives from the Commission traveled to Adams County, Wisconsin, for a field visit to learn how Adams-Friendship Middle School incorporates a statewide behavioral health framework into its operations.  After a brief school tour, Commission members and Wisconsin First Lady Tonette Walker participated in a roundtable discussion with representatives from the Wisconsin School Mental Health Initiative, school district officials, parents, students, and community leaders (video).  While in Wisconsin, Secretary DeVos also visited Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton to observe first-hand how its Public Safety Training Center is merging classroom lessons with reality-based, hands-on training (media advisory and news article). 

July 26: The Commission held its third formal meeting at the White House, titled “Proactively Protecting Our Schools” (video). 

Aug. 1: Attorney General Sessions, Deputy Secretary of Education Mitchell Zais, and other representatives from the Commission traveled to Garland County, Arkansas, for a field visit to learn how Lake Hamilton High School makes firearms accessible to trained staff members on campus in case of an emergency (video). 

In the coming months, the Commission will continue to host formal meetings, field visits, and listening sessions. 

State-Federal STEM Education Summit

On June 25 and 26, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy hosted a first-of-its-kind State-Federal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education Summit, convening state STEM leaders to inform the development of a federal five-year STEM Education Strategic Plan required by the America COMPETES Act of 2010.

The White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics participated and assisted in the STEM summit.

STEM Intern

Puerto Rico to Pilot New Student-Centered Funding System

On July 2, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Puerto Rico Department of Education will be the first to pilot new flexibility under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to create a student-centered funding system. The model is designed to equitably allocate local, state and federal resources based on student needs.

"Puerto Rico's use of a student-centered funding system will help to ensure those with the greatest need receive the most support," said Secretary DeVos. "Amid the hardships and challenges following Hurricane Maria, I am pleased to see Puerto Rico rethinking school and putting students' needs above all else."

Puerto Rico Secretary of Education Julia Keleher added, "Puerto Rico's ability to provide a quality education for its youth depends on how we fund K–12 education and the way funds are allocated. This pilot allows us to take a more scientific approach and track the relationship between strategic investments and future learning gains. We are committed to implementing effective solutions that benefit our students and ensure accountability to our families."

ESSA provides for 50 school districts to pilot a new student-centered funding system that combines local, state and federal dollars. This innovative approach allows maximal resources to be allocated to schools based on quantifiable student need, directing the most resources to support the students who need them most. The result is a more equitable, predictable and transparent method of allocating resources that puts students first.

U.S. Department of Education Grant Competition Announcements

The Department issued a call for applications for the following grant programs:

  • Open Textbooks Pilot Program supports projects at institutions of higher education (IHEs) that create new open textbooks or expand their use of open textbooks while maintaining or improving instruction and student learning outcomes. 
  • Cybersecurity Educational Technology Upgrades for Community Colleges Pilot Program supports projects at IHEs that provide technological upgrades for cybersecurity education programs at community colleges.
  • School Climate Transformation Grant Program provides competitive grants to state educational agencies to develop, enhance, or expand statewide systems of support for and technical assistance to local educational agencies and schools implementing an evidence-based, multitiered behavioral framework for improving behavioral outcomes and learning conditions for all students.

    Mobile Friendly FAFSA Website

    The website has an updated look with new colors and has been redesigned so that pages will fit the screen size and shape of any device, including desktop or laptop computers and mobile devices.  Students and parents can now complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form on a smartphone or tablet with the same ease as on a computer.  

    Later this summer, the Department will launch the myStudentAid mobile application.  The initial version will feature the myFAFSA component, which can be used to complete the FAFSA form.  Making the form accessible through a mobile device — both through and the app — provides students and parents with improved options for completing the form.

    Summer Reading: Federal Student Aid Materials

    Use the summer to catch up on Federal Student Aid (FSA) information by viewing the office’s online webinars and other materials. See the recordings online at and a broad range of other FSA info at FSA’s next set of webinars will be announced in late summer 2018.  

    Students and parents, please go to, FSA's informational website, where you can view electronic versions of publications, fact sheets, online tools, and other resources to help you prepare and pay for college or career school. 

    Space Innovation Day


    On June 27, The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum held Space Innovation Day. This interactive day focused on space exploration, STEM education, and student as makers. The event featured a live conversation with NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor.

    School Safety Guide

    On July 12, the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center issued an operational guide with actionable steps that schools can take to develop comprehensive targeted violence prevention plans for conducting threat assessments (guidebrief, and blog post).

    New Report Released on Gifted and Talented English Learners

    The Department's Office of English Language Acquisition commissioned a study on the identification of English learners (ELs) in gifted and talented programs that was conducted by the National Center for Research on Gifted Education (NCRGE). The NCRGE research team implemented a large-scale study in three states with mandates for identifying and serving gifted and talented students, under a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences.

    In addition, learn about 15 tips for improving the identification of gifted EL students.

    NCES Latest Reports

    Don’t miss these new reports from the Department’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) on the following topics: 

      STEM News

      The National Science Foundation (NSF) and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy honored individuals and organizations with presidential awards for excellence in teaching and mentoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

      NSF, in consultation with the Department, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, announced the appointment of 18 members to an advisory panel to encourage U.S. scientific and technological innovations in education, as authorized by the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act

      New Report on Youth Sports Participation

      The White House Council of Economic Advisors recently released a new report, The Potential for Youth Sports to Improve Childhood Outcomes, detailing how participating in youth sports can positively affect children's lives.

      FCC Educational Resources

      The Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division of the Federal Communications Commission recently posted educational resources for parents, educators and students. Please visit to view and download the materials. 

      #ReThink School

      Rethink logo

      Check out the latest blog series, #ReThink School, at the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom.

      Learn about various schools that are reshaping education and the impact it is making on their students.

      Be a Part of International Education Week 2018

      International Education Week is a joint initiative of the departments of Education and State that gives schools, colleges and universities, and communities an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. The 19th annual International Education Week will be held Nov. 12–16, 2018. To learn how to get involved, click here.

      WHIEEH Summer 2018 Interns

      Summer 2018 Interns

      We at the Initiative send our deepest appreciation and best wishes to our summer 2018 interns as they continue their education journeys. The interns spent the past few months researching education data, writing memos, and working on special projects.

      • Selena Huapilla-Perez, Michigan State University
      • Walter Ramirez, University of California, Irvine
      • Valentina Tovar, Texas A&M University
      • Leobardo Vallejo, Michigan State University