|Federal Update: October 28, 2013|
|posted by: Ruthie | October 28, 2013, 09:52 PM|
After the Government Accountability Office (GAO) uncovered a wide range of cases of convicted sex offenders, who had previously targeted children, working in schools alongside children, there was a push for change. Congressman George Miller (D-CA), a senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee authored the bill.
The Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act (H.R. 2083) creates consistency across states in criminal history background check policy. It requires public schools to conduct comprehensive background checks for any employee or applicant for employment with unsupervised access to children, using state criminal and child abuse registries and the FBI's fingerprint database, as well as to periodically update these checks.
It would also prohibit school districts from hiring or retaining anyone who has been convicted of certain violent crimes, including crimes against children, crimes involving rape or sexual assault, and child pornography.
Department of Education Grants NCLB Waivers to Texas and Puerto Rico
According to a recent announcement by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Texas and Puerto Rico will soon join the list of states receiving flexibility from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.
Like the 42 other states and the District of Columbia that have received NCLB flexibility, both Texas and Puerto Rico have agreed to raise academic standards, improve accountability, and undertake essential reforms to boost teacher effectiveness. In exchange, the state will no longer have to abide by certain student performance mandates.
Four applications remain under review. Additionally, five states have not requested flexibility through this process.
Click here to read the Department's initial and approved flexibility requests, highlights of each state's plan, and peer review notes.
Race to the Top Update
This year, the Department of Education received a total of 228 applications for the 2013 Race to the Top-District program, which will provide nearly $120 million to support school districts in implementing local education reforms. These reforms personalize instruction, close achievement gaps, and take full advantage of 21st century tools that prepare each student for college and careers.
This year's applications represent approximately 700 school systems in 44 states. The Department expects to award 5-10 competitive grants to districts. Awards will range from $4 million to $30 million, depending on the population served through the plan. Grants will be announced no later than December 31, 2013.
Additionally, the Department received 17 applications for the 2013 Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, which will provide $280 million in state-level grants to help improve the quality of early learning and development programs and close educational gaps for children with high needs.
Click here to learn more about the district-level plan.
This month, in support of the ConnectED initiative, the Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology is celebrating Connected Educator Month. Throughout the month, educators have had opportunities to participate in online events, build personal learning networks, and earn digital badges by demonstrating technology skills through webinars, live chats, open houses, contests, projects, and badge programs.
For example, in one activity educators developed strategies for helping kids develop creative confidence. In another activity, five U.S. organizations teamed up with UNESCO in a webinar, sharing insights about mobile learning around the globe. Additionally, state and locally focused activities have engaged communities of educators across the nation.
"One of the most important things we can do to support teachers and students is to put modern tools in their hands, and give them access to the limitless knowledge and connections that the Internet makes possible," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "That's why President Obama has made a priority of getting our schools connected to high-speed broadband, and it's also why I'm so enthusiastic about Connected Educator Month."
Click here to learn more about Connected Educator Month.