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Monday, January 19, 2009

Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan for Education

Early Childhood Education

Zero to Five Plan: The Obama-Biden comprehensive "Zero to Five" plan will provide critical support to young children and their parents. Unlike other early childhood education plans, the Obama-Biden plan places key emphasis at early care and education for infants, which is essential for children to be ready to enter kindergarten. Obama and Biden will create Early Learning Challenge Grants to promote state "zero to five" efforts and help states move toward voluntary, universal pre-school.
Expand Early Head Start and Head Start: Obama and Biden will quadruple Early Head Start, increase Head Start funding and improve quality for both.
Affordable, High-Quality Child Care: Obama and Biden will also provide affordable and high-quality child care to ease the burden on working families.


Reform No Child Left Behind: Obama and Biden will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama and Biden believe teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. He will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner. Obama and Biden will also improve NCLB's accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.

Support High-Quality Schools and Close Low-Performing Charter Schools: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will double funding for the Federal Charter School Program to support the creation of more successful charter schools. An Obama-Biden administration will provide this expanded charter school funding only to states that improve accountability for charter schools, allow for interventions in struggling charter schools and have a clear process for closing down chronically underperforming charter schools. An Obama-Biden administration will also prioritize supporting states that help the most successful charter schools to expand to serve more students.
Make Math and Science Education a National Priority: Obama and Biden will recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and will support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. They will also work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.

Address the Dropout Crisis: Obama and Biden will address the dropout crisis by passing his legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school - strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.
Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Obama and Biden will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.

Support College Outreach Programs: Obama and Biden support outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO and Upward Bound to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.
Support College Credit Initiatives: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will create a national "Make College A Reality" initiative that has a bold goal to increase students taking AP or college-level classes nationwide 50 percent by 2016, and will build on Obama's bipartisan proposal in the U.S. Senate to provide grants for students seeking college level credit at community colleges if their school does not provide those resources.

Support English Language Learners: Obama and Biden support transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.

Recruit, Prepare, Retain, and Reward America's Teachers
Recruit Teachers: Obama and Biden will create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location.

Prepare Teachers: Obama and Biden will require all schools of education to be accredited. Obama and Biden will also create a voluntary national performance assessment so we can be sure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively. Obama and Biden will also create Teacher Residency Programs that will supply 30,000 exceptionally well-prepared recruits to high-need schools.

Retain Teachers: To support our teachers, the Obama-Biden plan will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits. They will also provide incentives to give teachers paid common planning time so they can collaborate to share best practices.
Reward Teachers: Obama and Biden will promote new and innovative ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them. Districts will be able to design programs that reward accomplished educators who serve as a mentor to new teachers with a salary increase. Districts can reward teachers who work in underserved places like rural areas and inner cities. And if teachers consistently excel in the classroom, that work can be valued and rewarded as well.

Higher Education
Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama and Biden will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Recipients of the credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of community service.

Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama and Biden will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

Barack Obama's Record
Record of Advocacy: Obama has been a leader on educational issues throughout his career. In the Illinois State Senate, Obama was a leader on early childhood education, helping create the state's Early Learning Council. In the U.S. Senate, Obama has been a leader in working to make college more affordable. His very first bill sought to increase the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,100. As a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee, Obama helped pass legislation to achieve that goal in the recent improvements to the Higher Education Act. Obama has also introduced legislation to create Teacher Residency Programs and to increase federal support for summer learning opportunities.

Contact Michelle Elliott DeShields at Consult with ME! Educational Consulting 877.294.8463

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Defying the Odds Featured at DeKalb Co. Public Library

As I've discussed before "Defying the Odds" is a documentary that is very close to my heart. While working as as Education Project Manger at Georgia Public Broadcasting I was heavily involved in developing the Education Resource Guide for Teachers. Fresh out of graduate school with a master's degree in Guidance and School Counseling, I was able to include many counseling activites into the resource guide that regular classroom teachers can use with their students after viewing the documentary.
I am elated to see that this awesome documentary developed by Pamela Roberts and the Educators Resource Guide being viewed and used by many.

Here's the latest Update on "Defying the Odds"

The DeKalb County Library System featured Defying the Odds this fall with screenings of the documentary at branch libraries throughout the system. The culminating activity of the series was a presentation by Pamela Roberts, producer of the award winning documentary. Pam and Videographer, Wayne Baumgardner, talked about their experiences following five students who were part of a larger group promised a college education by Merrill Lynch if these students graduated from High School.
The documentary begins when the students are in the 10th grade and follows them through to their senior year in High School. The students, families and student mentor, Dr. Barbara Whitaker, all contribute to the stories.Laura Hauser, in the DeKalb County Public Library Literary Services program, organized the Defying the Odds series. She introduced the program, shared clips from the documentary then invited the audience to participate in an informal discussion of reactions to factors that that all students face as they journey towards a goal of high school graduation. Family support, parent-school relationships and access to technology were some of the main points of conversation.Defying the Odds first aired in 2002 and was awarded the National CINE Golden Eagle, The Best of Television (Society of Professional Journalists and first place for documentaries in The Green Eye Shade award. Producer Roberts provided a 2008 update on the lives of the 5 students featured in the documentary.

GPB Education's Barbara O'Brien joined the discussion to share the Resource Guide for Educators. This companion document provides the Defying the Odds themes, risk factors for students, strategies for working with at-risk youth, models for making good decisions and much more.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Do You Need an Educational Consultant?

Finding the right school, college or program can be a rewarding
process, but for some families the experience is challenging,
overwhelming and at times frustrating. Few decisions have as great
an impact on a student. Families may find themselves at a loss
to properly evaluate their options and make appropriate choices.
Seeking the services of an independent educational consultant can be
the wisest investment a family can make. And, the fees involved may
be less than 3% of a four-year college tuition bill.
Hiring an independent educational consultant can give families
objective advice, access to reliable information, and the kind of
individual attention necessary to make an informed decision.
The reasons families hire independent educational consultants
vary. Families considering a secondary school typically lack
knowledge or familiarity with what the options are. In addition
to traditional day schools, there are boarding schools, Learning
Disability programs, and public charter schools. While a tremendous
amount of information is available on the Internet, an independent
educational consultant can provide qualitative analysis for the
selection. Consultants have not only visited these schools, but
undoubtedly have placed many students there. Consultants are also
knowledgeable about the admission process and can advise families
every step of the way.
For families considering college, the main reason to hire an
independent educational consultant is individualized attention. Most
public school guidance counselors would like to assist students
individually with the college process but they have too many
students to offer much in the way of individual attention. And, they
often have many more responsibilities than college counseling: They
are responsible for scheduling as well as other social and emotional
issues that face teenagers today. Independent consultants can take
much of the stress out of the process and be an objective, third-party,
helping a family through the process of transitioning from high
school and living at home to going off to college and living away
from home.
Employing the services of an educational consultant may be the
best investment families can make. Tapping into the knowledge and
expertise of a consultant who has extensive experience to guide
families in making this important decision can make the difference
between a really good match and a less than successful experience.

For more information visit Consult With ME! Educational Consulting at www.consultingwithme.com or call 877.294.8463