ED Review (05/12/23)

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May 12, 2023


Thank You Teachers 

This week, in recognition of National Teacher Appreciation Day (May 9) and National Teacher Appreciation Week (May 8-12), the Administration saluted the nation’s educators. 

President Biden issued a proclamation, noting “In schools across America, teachers are arriving early to set up classrooms, spending long hours educating students, and staying late to prepare tomorrow’s lesson plans.  Their devotion to our children embodies the best of America -- ready to serve and eager to see others thrive.  Today and during this week, we celebrate our nation’s remarkable teachers and early childhood educators, and we recommit to having their backs, just as they have ours” (White House tweet). 

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden shared a video of 2023 State Teachers of the Year receiving thank you messages from the parents of their students, and those who visit the White House are able to read thank you notes to teachers from students and parents across the country (tweet). 

Secretary Cardona released his own video for the occasion, met with teachers at the Department (tweet), announced the latest Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program data (tweet) -- see below, and joined the #TeachersinAmerica podcast (tweet).  He also penned an op-ed, published in HuffPost, calling for the “ABCs of the teaching profession: agency, better working conditions, and competitive salary” (tweet). 

Additionally, the Department’s Twitter feed was rebranded for the week and featured multiple posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13); Homeroom blogs focused on leadership from the classroom and teacher leadership at the national level; and both the 2022 and 2023 National Teachers of the Year offered words of wisdom (1 and 2). 



To mark Public Service Recognition Week (tweet), the Department announced it had approved $42 billion in PSLF for more than 615,000 borrowers since October 2021.  This is the result of the temporary changes made by the Biden Administration that made it easier for borrowers to qualify for forgiveness.  At the end of the previous administration, only about 7,000 borrowers had been approved for PSLF. 

Furthermore, the Department announced the implementation of improvements to the PSLF Help Tool, which borrowers use to apply for the program.  These updates will let borrowers complete the entire PSLF application process online, and borrowers will no longer need to mail or fax in their application with a wet signature -- significantly decreasing processing time.  Borrowers may now also track the status of their PSLF form in the My Activity section of their StudentAid.gov account. 

PSLF is one of several student loan forgiveness programs established by law.  It supports public employees -- such as teachers, law enforcement, and firefighters, as well as those who work for a non-profit organization in a variety of fields -- by forgiving the remaining federal student loan balance after 120 qualifying monthly payments.  Beyond those already approved, roughly two million borrowers have an approved PSLF form and are on the path to forgiveness. 

Note: The Department announced final regulations for the PSLF program in October 2022, which will go into effect July 1 and are detailed in a fact sheet. 


Turner Tech 

On May 4, Secretary Cardona traveled to Miami, Florida, with Congresswoman Frederica Wilson to highlight the importance of mentoring and after-school programming in assisting student recovery from the pandemic.  They visited William H. Turner Technical Arts High School, touring its medical, construction, and agricultural magnet programs, and Dr. Frederica S. Wilson/Skyway Elementary School, convening with principals, staff, and school board members focused on academic and mental health supports. 

The next day, the Secretary was in Orlando to deliver the commencement address for the University of Central Florida’s College of Undergraduate Studies (remarks, photo, and video). 

Then, on May 8, the Secretary traveled to Hampton, Virginia, with Congressman Bobby Scott to highlight high-quality education and career readiness programs.  They visited Bethel High School, learning first-hand from teachers and staff about preparing students for college and beyond, and Hampton University, convening with education leaders focused on wrap-around services to support students throughout college. 

Separately, Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten continued her “Raise the Bar: Lead the World” tour in the Greater Atlanta area.  She visited Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, which uses science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education to accelerate learning and deliver comprehensive and rigorous instruction.  She also visited two Gwinnett County public schools, Baldwin Elementary School and Paul Duke STEM High School, featuring multilingual STEM classes and career-connected learning, and participated in a roundtable discussion with students, parents, and school staff. 


On May 10, the Secretary announced the 2023 class of U.S. Presidential Scholars.  This program was established by Executive Order in 1964 to honor academic achievement of graduating high school seniors.  It was expanded in 1979 to honor students in the arts and in 2015 to honor students in career-technical education (CTE).  Each year, 161 students are named, including at least one young man and woman from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and American families living abroad.  Another 15 are chosen at-large, 20 are scholars in the arts, and 20 are scholars in CTE.  This year, over 5,000 candidates qualified based on exceptional ACT or SAT scores or through nominations by Chief State School Officers, partner organizations, and the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts competition. The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars -- appointed by the President -- selects the finalists based on their academic success, school evaluations, transcripts, and essays, as well as clear evidence of community service, leadership, and commitment to high ideals.  (Note: The Scholars will be recognized this summer with an online program.) 


According to newly released results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the civics and U.S. history scores of eighth-grade students decreased between 2018 and 2022.  The average score on the 2022 civics assessment declined by two points, the first decline since the assessment began in 1988, and just 22% of eighth-graders scored at or above the NAEP Proficient level.  Meanwhile, the average score on the 2022 U.S. history assessment declined by five points, continuing a trend of declining scores that began in 2014, and only 13% of eighth-graders scored at or above the NAEP Proficient level. 

These results follow the October 2022 reading and math results for fourth- and eighth-grade students, which showed a widespread decline in achievement for eighth-graders, especially in math. 

“The latest data from the NAEP further affirms the profound impact the pandemic had on student learning in subjects beyond math and reading,” Secretary Cardona emphasized in a statement.  “It tells us that now is not the time for politicians to try to extract double-digit cuts to education funding, nor is it the time to limit what students learn in U.S. history and civics classes.  We need to provide every student with rich opportunities to learn about America’s history and understand the U.S. Constitution and how our system of government works.  Banning history books and censoring educators from teaching these important subjects does our students a disservice and will move America in the wrong direction.” 

Note: The Department is actively inviting applications for its American History and Civics Education National Activities Program and Presidential and Congressional Academies for American History and Civics Program. 



“Our colleges and universities have always been a driving force in solving America’s greatest challenges.  Today, we’re calling on these critical institutions to stand up once again by using Federal Work-Study and other funding to help accelerate learning and recovery in our K-12 schools.  I applaud the 26 colleges and universities that are leading the way, as early adopters of this effort, by answering the call and partnering with the National Partnership for Student Success.  By serving as tutors and mentors, college students can make a positive difference in the lives of children and youth, and, ultimately, it is in the best interest of our colleges and universities to help accelerate academic recovery in our public schools.  I’m hopeful that this initiative will inspire more college students, of diverse backgrounds and income levels, to consider careers as educators.” 

-- Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (5/10/23), calling on colleges, universities, and school districts to work together to increase the number of college students supporting children and youth in schools and out-of-school time programs (press release and Dear Colleague Letter) 


Register now for the sixth session in the webinar series highlighting the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act  (BSCA) Stronger Connections Grant Program.  This webinar, on May 15 at 12 noon Eastern Time, will focus on the essential role that school-based mental health systems serve in supporting students’ overall well-being and their ability to fully engage in learning, as well as provide information and resources to help develop systems that promote positive school and classroom climates (BSCA landing page). 

Registration is also open for the fourth virtual session in the Family Engagement Learning Series, May 23 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. ET, which will explore how family engagement can support student mental health and well-being. 

Also on May 23, from 2 to 5 p.m. ET, the Department will conduct a virtual Tribal Consultation on developing priorities for the President’s FY 2025 budget. 

All are invited to a virtual White House briefing on May 24 at 1:30 p.m. ET to learn more about the National Partnership for Student Success initiative and how organizations may join this effort. 

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