October 2020 Issue

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White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative


October 2020 Issue

“Protecting all students’ civil rights is at the core of OCR’s mission, and, in order to meet that challenge, we need reliable, accurate data and a true partnership with State Education Agencies and school districts. I’m proud of this administration’s commitment to working with schools and local districts to ensure students’ civil rights are protected, whether it be through our new Outreach, Prevention, Education, and Non-Discrimination (OPEN) Center or the significant steps we’ve taken to ensure CRDC data quality, including our partnership with the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). While self-reported data poses challenges, the quality assurance measures we have put into place help make this data more reliable than ever before.” 

— Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, in a statement on the release of the 2017-18 CRDC.

Summary of the Second Meeting of the President’s Advisory Commission on Hispanic Prosperity

On Sept. 30, the President’s Advisory Commission on Hispanic Prosperity (Commission) convened for their second meeting. As they committed in their inaugural meeting to meet across the country to hear from local Hispanic communities the Commission gathered in Las Vegas, NV.

Prior to the meeting, members of the Commission attended two roundtables to engage with local stakeholders on educational and economic opportunities.

During the meeting, the Commission began developing action steps on increasing school choice options for Hispanic families and supporting the growth of Hispanic small businesses. The Commission committed to meet with Hispanic stakeholders in their communities on these strategic issues.

At the meeting, the Commission welcomed three new Commissioners:

  • Lourdes Aguirre
  • Jo-Ann Chase
  • Pasqual Urrabazo

2017-18 Civil Rights Data Collection Released

On Oct. 15, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released the 2017-18 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). The CRDC is a universal compilation of data related to OCR’s civil rights enforcement responsibilities at the PK-12 level, including charter schools, magnet programs, alternative schools, schools serving students with disabilities, and long-term juvenile justice facilities.  

The CRDC website features many useful tools, including tables and charts, that display a district’s or school’s data about key issues for the current CRDC and/or multiple prior collections at the same time. This year, the Department modernized the site’s user interface and infrastructure, making it look and function better than before. Now, all content will be accurately displayed on all types of devices (e.g., phones, tablets, and desktops). 

Furthermore, OCR released two issue briefs on topics about which Secretary DeVos has raised concerns: use of restraint and seclusion on students with disabilities and sexual violence in K-12 schools

Department Launches 2021-22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid Form


The Department has released the 2021-22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Students and parents can easily complete the form via fafsa.gov on a desktop or mobile device. This year, enhanced help topics provide even more guidance through the form, and, as a result of user feedback, many financial help topics on fafsa.gov now feature images of the forms with relevant line numbers visually highlighted to help applicants navigate the FAFSA form.

The Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) remains the fastest way for applicants to enter tax return information accurately on the FAFSA form.

The Department provides other tools and resources designed to help students complete and submit the FAFSA form and make informed choices. The Annual Student Loan Acknowledgment provides links to the College Scorecard, where students can estimate their post-completion starting salary based on the school they plan to attend and the program in which they will enroll.

The Department’s Homeroom blog also contains posts with helpful information, including:

Safely Reopening Schools

With visits, calls, and virtual showcases, Secretary DeVos and Department senior officials are promoting safely reopening schools and expanding educational options for students and families. 

In North Carolina, Secretary DeVos participated in a roundtable discussion on school choice in Raleigh, then visited Jenkins Elementary School in Hickory and Piedmont Community Charter School in Gastonia

Also, the Secretary participated in a roundtable discussion on school choice in Waukesha, Wisconsin, hearing from parents who had moved children to private schools for in-person instruction. 

Additionally, with U.S. Senator Tim Scott and members of the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Secretary joined an Oct. 9 call with African-American leaders concerning the importance of educational freedom and providing more opportunities for students of color. 

The Secretary visited International Leadership of Texas’ K-8 and high schools in Garland and Arizona’s Phoenix International Academy (joined by Governor Doug Ducey). 

Separately, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Frank Brogan visited Lancaster Catholic High School in Pennsylvania on Oct. 8, between hosting interactive virtual showcases with Cardinal Community Schools in Iowa (joined by Governor Kim Reynolds) and Illini Bluffs School District in Illinois on Oct. 7 and Conemaugh Township Elementary School in Jonestown, Penn., and Central Elementary School in Logan, Ohio, on Oct. 14. 

Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Scott Stump also hosted a virtual showcase, with Westminster High School in Colorado, on Oct. 15. 

The Department launched a social media campaign highlighting stories from educators who have successfully transitioned back to school this fall. The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education created a website highlighting Back-to-School Success Stories from parents, teachers, students, school leaders and community partners.

Updated COVID-19 Resources


The White House, the Department, and other federal agencies continue to release guidance to support schools, educators, and families regarding COVID-19. Many of the latest documents are listed below. Please visit the Department’s COVID-19 information and resources webpage for the most current information, and any questions for the Department may be directed to COVID-19@ed.gov

Meanwhile, on Oct. 5, President Trump signed an executive order to address the negative impact of prolonged shutdowns on mental and behavioral health and increase suicide prevention efforts. Through the order, the President is establishing a Cabinet-level working group to assess the mental health needs of the most vulnerable, including children. Secretary DeVos issued a statement of gratitude noting, “Students need safe in-person support groups and mentorships now more than ever.” 

Notice of Hispanic Prosperity Commission Upcoming Meeting

The third meeting of the Commission will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET.

Members of the public may register to obtain dial-in instructions. Due to technical constraints, registration is limited to 200 participants and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Members of the public are encouraged to submit public comment to the Commission via email to Emmanuel.Caudillo@ed.gov.

Celebrating School Choice for Hispanic Families Virtual Roundtable

The Department invites you to a virtual roundtable with the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative to discuss the importance and impact of School Choice on Hispanic students and families on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 11a.m. ET. You will hear from a senior leader at the Department, a member of the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative Commission, and community leaders with inspiring personal experiences and stories. Please register to reserve your spot.

Hispanic Heritage Month Commemoration

Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The Department and White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative collaborated to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month.

A video featuring Department staff affirmed the diversity of Hispanic culture during National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Two blogs focused on the Hispanic community regarding school choice and Hispanic-Serving Institutions were released:

On Oct. 15, the Department's Hispanic Heritage Month Committee hosted the webinar, Pathway to NIH: Highlighting Hispanic Researchers. In coordination with the National Institutes for Health (NIH)’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, the webinar featured a panel of Hispanic researchers who shared their journeys to NIH and highlighted the importance of participating in science, technology, engineering, and math education.

Department Awards More than $131 Million to Create and Expand High-Quality Public Charter Schools

On Oct. 2, Secretary DeVos announced more than $131 million in new grant funding to create and expand hundreds of high-quality public charter schools across the country. Recipients of the funding include three statewide charter school associations, five state educational agencies, and more than 10 nonprofit organizations. Today’s announcement will provide relief to the millions of American families currently stuck on long waiting lists hoping to attend a public charter school. 

Over 90% of the funds will support projects located in certified Opportunity Zones. Currently, more than 70% of Opportunity Zones lack a public charter school option for families. Additionally, nearly $1 million in funding will support the creation and expansion of public charter schools to serve Native American communities, a long-standing priority for Secretary DeVos.

NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Program

NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) wants to connect with two-year degree seeking community college students to inspire them to become the next generation of the STEM workforce. NCAS gives community college students an opportunity to learn from experts about NASA’s missions and current research in an online self-paced course. Students who succeed in the course may have the opportunity to attend a NASA experience where a NASA scientist would lead them in a competition with other like-minded students. To find out more or to direct students to the application, please visit the program website. The application will remain open through Nov. 18, 2020, 11:59 p.m. CST.

Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program

Fulbright Hays Seminar Abroad Program

The Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program provides U.S. educators in the social sciences and humanities with opportunities to participate in short-term seminars abroad to improve their understanding and knowledge of the peoples and cultures of other countries. In 2021, summer seminars will be offered in Iceland, Morocco, and Mexico. Applications are now being accepted through Dec. 18, 2020.