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February 2020

President Offers Strong Support for Education Freedom in State of the Union Address
On Feb. 5, President Trump delivered his third State of the Union address. He urged Congress to approve federal tax credits for school choice. He also called for an expansion of career and technical education and touted his Administration’s support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and religious liberty in schools.
Secretary DeVos stated, “Tonight, the President delivered a strong message in support of America’s students and their futures. Every student, parent, and teacher should be excited by this bold agenda to free them from a government system that limits their success.”

Secretary DeVos Visits Wisconsin and Colorado in Recognition of National School Choice Week
On Jan. 28, Secretary DeVos and Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Madison, Wisc., to deliver remarks at the Wisconsin School Choice Student Showcase, organized by Hispanics for School Choice. The showcase celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program — the oldest school choice program in the nation and one of four Private School Choice Programs in Wisconsin serving over 40,000 students.
On Jan. 30, Secretary DeVos visited Liberty Common High School and Aims Community College in Greeley with U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, of Colorado’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, to look at how schools are approaching choice in education. She also wrote an op-ed on fighting for freedom that was published in the Denver Post.
School Choice provides the freedom for families to choose the K –12 education options that best fit their children. Options can include choices between schools – from traditional public schools to public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, homeschooling and others – as well expanding or creating options within schools – such as advanced and specialized coursework, tutoring, electives, dual or concurrent enrollment, career and technical education and many more. National School Choice Week was Jan. 26 – Feb. 1, 2020.

U.S. Department of Education Senior Officials Celebrate National School Choice Week and National Catholic School Week
During National School Choice Week and National Catholic Schools Week, several of the Department’s senior leaders visited schools and attended events across the country. Mitchell Zais toured Colorado Early Colleges, a public charter school where students can complete an associate degree or a postsecondary certificate at no cost to their families. During his visit, he participated in a listening session and toured the school’s on-campus urban farm, an iNNolab makerspace, and a farm-to-school scratch kitchen. In Wyoming he visited a public charter school, Poder Academy Secondary School, and St. Mary’s Catholic School, touring schools and meeting with students, parents and educators.

100 Years of Vocational Rehabilitation
2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the first federally funded program to assist people with disabilities who had not acquired their disabilities as a result of serving in the military. Vocational Rehabilitation programs are part of Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) which administers and supports a comprehensive array of formula and discretionary grant programs and projects that serve and assist individuals with disabilities. RSA developed a historical perspective video,The State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program – The First 100 Years, as part of its 100 Years of Vocational Rehabilitation celebration. Visit the Vocational Rehabilitation 100th Anniversary page to follow along with the RSA’s year-long VR100 celebration.

STEM Afterschool
On Feb. 4, 2020, the Department of Education held a briefing, “STEM After School,” highlighting the importance of after-school programs, specifically those with an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), including computer science. Research shows after-school programs help children succeed in life and school. Representatives from 21st-Century Community Learning Centers, Afterschool Alliance, and After-School All-Stars DC stressed that involvement in STEM activities after school often leads to greater outcomes in STEM fields. Connect to after-school learning in your community through the Connectory or the 50 State Afterschool Network.

Seventh Annual ED Games Expo
The U.S. Department of Education recently hosted the Seventh Annual ED Games Expo (#EDGamesExpo) at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
This Jan. 9 event gave attendees a chance to discover and demo almost 150 learning games and technologies while meeting face-to-face with the developers. This year dozens of the developers delivered presentations about their games to 30 schools in the Washington, D.C., area during the week of the event.
All the games and technologies were developed with support from one or more of more than 30 programs across many agencies in the federal government and 20 national organizations in the field of education.
The Guide to Educational Learning Games and Technologies provides details and video demonstrations on the technologies exhibited at the ED Games Expo. The ED Games Expo Activity Guide is a resource developed to engage and prepare children and students who attended the Expo.

Using Fingers to Help Teach Early Math Concepts
Counting on fingers is an effective strategy to help young children learn early math concepts. Development and Research in Early Math Education dispels the myth that finger counting is an immature math strategy that hinders young children’s learning. Research shows counting on fingers and other body parts is one of the oldest number representation systems in the world. Young children can represent a number on their fingers before they can vocalize the actual number. For an example of finger counting in action, a short video is available.

Colleges Use Mom and Dad to Help Students Succeed
Transitioning from high school to college is a big change for students and families. Parents are often in the dark about what their college student is going through during this time. In the California State University (CSU) system, two out of 10 freshmen do not return for a second year. To address this statistic and increase four-year graduation rates, the CSU system initiated different efforts, including recruiting parents to assist with student success. On a recent Saturday, over 160 parents and family members attended Parent Academy at CSU, Los Angeles to learn how to help their son or daughter become a successful college student.

Everybody Counts: 2020 Census
The 2020 Census is a count of every person living in the United States that happens once every 10 years. The goal of the census is to count every person once, and in the right place. Funding for public programs, such as Head Start, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Federal Pell Grant Program, and Community Development Block Grants is based on the results of the U.S. Census count. Parents and families of young children frequently do not realize the importance of including children who live with them full time, or a majority of the time, when completing the Census form. Children under 5 are one of the largest groups undercounted in the United States. Having an accurate count of young children now will help ensure they will have the resources needed when they grow up.

2020 Take Your Family to School Week
National PTA will celebrate its long legacy of family engagement during Take Your Family to School Week, Feb 16–23. In celebration, local PTAs from across the country will host themed events in such areas as health and safety, literacy, digital learning, and STEM. Toolkits are available on the webpage to assist with planning an event. This year, 15 local PTAs received $1000 grants to host events during the week.

Effective Practices Webinar
The National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement is hosting an Effective Practices webinar on February 26, 2020 at 3:00pm. The webinar will explore professional development opportunities available to K-12 and early childhood family engagement practitioners, teachers, administrators, and anyone who engages families and communities on a regular basis.
The Office of Communications and Outreach works with national, state and local education agencies, programs and organizations to empower parents and families with information and resources to help them be full partners in their child’s programmatic, education and academic progress. For more information, please contact Dawn Ellis at dawn.ellis@ed.gov or call 202-453-7404.
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Contributors: Dawn Ellis, Nicole Carinci, Michael Chamberlain .
Advisers: Karen Stratman, Kimberly Watkins-Foote, Michael Chamberlain
“Family, School and Community Engagement” can be found online at https://www2.ed.gov/news/newsletters/engagingfamilies/index.html
Note: This document contains information about and from public and private entities and organizations for the reader’s information. Inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any entity or organization or the products or services offered or views expressed. This publication also contains hyperlinks and URLs created and maintained by outside organizations. They are provided for the reader’s convenience; however, the Department is not responsible for the accuracy of this information.

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