ED Review (09/16/22)

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September 16, 2022


Bus Tour 

This week, Secretary Cardona visited six mid-Atlantic states as part of his “Road to Success Back to School Bus Tour,” showcasing the many ways that school communities are helping students recover and thrive -- putting them on the road to success.  He was joined by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff for a number of stops, underscoring the Biden Administration’s commitment to helping students at all levels -- early childhood through postsecondary education -- recover from the impacts of the pandemic and continue to succeed.  Also, Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten participated in additional events, celebrating the back to school season. 

“It’s a great feeling to see yellow school buses drive around our communities with excited children who are ready to thrive in this new school year,” the Secretary noted.  “I am thrilled to be traveling across the eastern states and highlighting innovative ways local, state, and federal efforts are helping student recover and succeed in and out of the classroom.  This year will be one of the most important ever, as we not only work to catch students up but [also] put them in a position to do even better than where they were before March 2020.” 

On Monday, the First Lady and the Secretary held events in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Greensboro, North Carolina, elevating how states and school districts are recruiting and preparing qualified educators for the classroom and meeting with teachers and teacher candidates in leading teacher pipeline programs (see First Lady’s remarks at the University of Tennessee and North Carolina A&T University, Secretary’s remarks at NC A&T, Secretary’s daily lesson, and Department’s press release on Teacher Quality Partnership [TQP] grants). 

In North Carolina, the Secretary also visited Guilford Technical Community College, speaking with students and professors about the institution’s high school to career pathways program (see photos). 

On Tuesday, the Secretary was in Virginia.  First, he attended an event hosted by the Special Olympics for Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School in Richmond, named a Unified Champion School® for promoting meaningful social inclusion for students of all abilities.  Second, he toured the Boys and Girls Club program and met with parents and teachers about academic recovery for English learners and students with disabilities at Bluestone Elementary School in Harrisonburg (see Secretary’s remarks at Special Olympics banner event, Secretary’s daily lesson, and Department’s press release on grants for Parent Training and Information Centers [PTICs]). 

On Wednesday, the Secretary traveled to West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  His first stop was West Virginia University in Morgantown, where he learned about how the institution was prioritizing mental health needs and using American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to provide mental health resources for students and faculty.  Next, he visited the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, where he read to students attending the early learning program alongside special guest Daniel Tiger.  Then, he stopped by a Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) clinic in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, hosted by the National Education Association (NEA).  He also read to students at Morgantown’s North Elementary School -- joined by special guest Jennifer Garner -- and dropped in on a meeting of the PTO at Lancaster’s Ross Elementary School (see recap video and Department’s press release on Bipartisan Safer Communities Act [BSCA] funding to address youth mental health.)

In Pennsylvania on Thursday, the Secretary started the day at Reading Area Community College, hearing from students about ways the institution has met their basic needs throughout the pandemic and officially kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month.  Second Gentleman Emhoff then joined the Secretary in Allentown, where they learned how community schools provide wrap-around services to students in the area at United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.  And, in Philadelphia, they stopped by a PSLF clinic hosted by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).  The Secretary also met with Reading parents on the value of the district’s English language supports (see Secretary’s daily lesson and the Department’s press release on Competitive Grants for Statewide Family Engagement Centers [SFECs]). 

Today, the Secretary is in New Jersey, where he announced the 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools (see below) and will learn more about Camden High School’s involvement with the National Partnership for Student Success -- a coalition supporting high-impact tutoring, mentoring, postsecondary transition coaching, and other programs to help students recover academically and strengthen overall student well-being. 

Meanwhile, a Homeroom blog post details the Deputy Secretary’s “four stops in one day” in Charlotte, North Carolina (see photos). 

For more content, go to #EDBusTour22 and #RoadtoSuccess. 


Blue Ribbon Schools 

During his bus tour, Secretary Cardona announced 297 schools as 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools (video slideshow).  This program honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students perform at the highest levels or where progress is being made on closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.  Chief State School Officers nominate public schools, while the Council for American Private Education nominates private schools.  All schools will be recognized at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., November 3 and 4.  With its 39th cohort, the program has bestowed approximately 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools, with some sites winning multiple awards -- as schools are eligible to be re-nominated every five years (press release and blog post).  (Note: Honoree profiles and applications are posted online.) 


Student Loan Debt Relief 

The Department released new information about how targeted student debt relief will work.  A simple application will be available in October.  Eligible borrowers -- those with loans held by the Department of Education, with annual income during the pandemic of under $125,000 (for individuals) or under $250,000 (for households) -- have until December 31, 2023, to submit an application.  Nevertheless, borrowers are advised to apply before November 15 in order to receive relief before the repayment pause expires on December 31, 2022.  Non-Pell Grant recipients are eligible for up to $10,000 of relief.  Borrowers may log onto StudentAid.gov to see if they received a Pell Grant, and, thus, are eligible for up to $20,000 of relief.  Loan balances remaining after relief is applied will be re-amortized, meaning the agency will recalculate monthly payments based on the new, smaller principal balance.  (Note: For some helpful videos on the plan, visit this Twitter thread.) 


Tomorrow is Constitution Day/Citizenship Day, commemorating the September 17, 1787, signing of the U.S. Constitution.  In recognition, Congress has mandated that every educational institution receiving federal funding hold an annual educational program about this seminal document.  To assist students and educators in their studies, the National Archives and Records Administration offers key resources, including a free online version of its U.S. Constitution Workshop.  Likewise, free online resources are available from the Library of Congress and the U.S. Census Bureau.  Anyone may watch the Department’s Constitution Day event on September 20 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. 


To support families as students return to school, the Administration is spotlighting two programs: the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC), which provides payments to eligible families with children, and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which helps eligible families access high-speed internet. 

The ARP expanded the CTC from $2,000 per child to $3,600 for children under age 6 and $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17.  While many received advance monthly payments of the CTC between July and December 2021, families must file a 2021 tax return to receive their remaining amount.  Also, by filing a tax return, families that did not receive advance payments in 2021 (such as those who welcomed a baby in 2021 or those who have not filed taxes in recent years and did not use the non-filer portal) may still receive their full CTC.  This year’s tax filing deadline is October 17.  ChildTaxCredit.gov offers features to help taxpayers file their taxes and access the remainder of the expanded CTC. 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) established the ACP, providing eligible households up to $30 a month off internet bills, as well as a one-time $100 discount off a connected device.  And, the Administration secured commitments from internet service providers across the country to offer high-speed plans that are fully covered -- meaning millions of families can get high-speed internet at no cost.  An estimated 40% of households qualify for the ACP, including those with an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level ($55,500 for a family of four) and those participating in certain federal programs (without regard to income).  GetInternet.gov is a one-stop shop to check eligibility and sign up.  Moreover, the Department released a Back to School ACP Toolkit with a ready-to-use backpack flyer that schools and community partners may use to help students and their families enroll. 



“We’re here today because you’re doing something right.  You are choosing to support each other.  You are choosing to help each other.  And above all: you are choosing to include.  I can’t overstate how important that is.  I know how it feels to not be included.  When I set foot in my elementary school for the first time, I quickly realized: I came from a Latino family.  Most kids didn’t.  I spoke Spanish as a first language.  Most kids didn’t.  I knew for sure that I was different….  Honestly, it felt terrible.  Over time, I learned something: the things that made me different weren’t deficits….  They were assets.  They let me bring something to the table that no one else could.  They were superpowers.  What I want you to understand today is this: each and every one of you has a superpower.” 

-- Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (9/13/22), from remarks delivered at a Special Olympics event for Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia 


The National HBCU Week Conference starts Tuesday, September 20. 

Please register to join the final webinar in the Community Schools Learning Series on September 22 at 3 p.m. ET.  Panelists will discuss the knowledge, skills, and dispositions community school leaders need to be effective, with a focus on the community school coordinator’s role and the role of educators and partners in implementing the community schools model.  Experts from the field will share examples of community school leadership and how they have: (1) leveraged local, regional, and state resources; (2) built sustainable partnerships with institutions and organizations and across agencies; (3) engaged staff and communities as key stakeholders in planning and implementation; and (4) utilized data to guide the process. 

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