Attorneys General Ask Education Secretary DeVos To Restore Guidance To Student Aid Borrowers

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Attorneys general from 20 states and the District of Columbia are faulting Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for rolling back Obama-era guidance they say is helping protect student loan borrowers.

In a letter sent Monday, Democratic attorneys general Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Lisa Madigan of Illinois called on DeVos to restore the memos instituted by the federal Education Department last year under President Barack Obama.

The attorneys general said the guidance is designed to help borrowers get accurate information about their loans and repayment options — ensuring the consistency of service provided by student loan servicers and increasing accountability.

The letter was co-signed by attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sanctuary Cities: Justice Department Outlines Grant Cuts | Time.com

President Trump has called for certain federal grants to be withheld from cities that do not report undocumented immigrants to federal authorities, known as “sanctuary cities.”

But the standoff may cost the cities less money than originally thought.

On Friday, the Department of Justice sent letters to nine jurisdictions citing specific types of grants that may be cut, many of which are directly related to law enforcement.

Each of the nine letters, which went to the state of California and major cities like New York and Chicago, cited a specific grant that compels them to work with federal authorities on immigration violations. “Failure to comply with this condition could result in the withholding of grant funds” or “suspension or termination of the grant,” the letter warned.

But a TIME examination of the eight grants cited in the letters — one of which is repeated in letters to the city of Chicago and the surrounding Cook County — found that many do not come with large price tags by government standards.

Each grant lists, in general terms, how the locality will use the money. Chicago, for example, stated in 2016 that it would use the funds “to purchase equipment and support overtime patrols. The project goal is to increase essential law enforcement services.”

The Chicago grant is one of 1,010 outlays known as “Byrne JAG” grants that were issued to localities in fiscal year 2016. Another 56 were issued to states, for a total of $264 million. But threats to withhold these grants, which date back to the Obama Administration, appear to contradict Trump’s executive order to spare grants which are “necessary for law enforcement purposes.”

At the same time, many legal scholars argue that it is unconstitutional to dangle any other type of federal grant as a condition for compliance with a matter of law enforcement, in large part thanks to Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion on the Affordable Care Act case. As constitutional law scholar Noah Feldman noted, Roberts concluded that “Congress can’t create a funding condition that is unrelated to the original funding purpose.” In other words, it might be difficult for the Justice Department to make receiving education grants dependent on whether a city reports undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.

Instead, some experts surmise, what could be at stake are other grants issued by the Justice Department that are less explicitly related to law enforcement. For example, there are 25 programs issued by the department’s Office on Violence Against Women and others devoted to juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. While no official in the Trump administration has specifically cited these programs, last week’s letters state that failure to comply with federal immigration law could make states and localities ineligible for all grants from the Office of Justice Programs, which oversees both law enforcement grants and those like the ones mentioned above.

Should sanctuary cities choose not to comply, many predict a protracted legal battle before a single dollar is withheld from a grant, many of which are determined by formulas and aren’t otherwise subject to discretion. In the interim, it remains unclear exactly which programs the Trump Administration is willing to attempt to deny cities that do not cooperate.

General Education Council seeks program revision




A proposal by the Shippensburg University General Education Council could result in a drop in the amount of general education credits a student is required to take to graduate.

Currently, students are required to take 48 credits in general education courses. The proposal is looking to reduce the number of credits from 48 to 45, or possibly 42, according to SU General Education Faculty Co-Chair Scott Drzyzga.

The potential changes in the program are the first the university has seen in years. SU has not changed its General Education Program since 1985, and is the only university in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to not reform its program since 2000, according to Drzyzga. The current proposal has been in the works since 2009.

“The current system from PASSHE requires universities to have students take no less than 40 credits and no more than 48 credits in general education courses,” Drzyzga said.

At this time, students are required to take a minimum of 48 credits, which in August 2018 will not fit the standard set by PASSHE, which requires that students do not exceed 48 general education credits.

The proposal to cut the number of credits required is designed to help students who are required to take a lot of credits to graduate, making it easier for students in majors with higher course loads to graduate, according to Drzyzga.

The proposal could also allow more flexibility in what courses go into a student’s degree, presenting more opportunity for double majors and minors.

“It is a challenge in some majors,” Drzyzga said. “Students in our education programs and some of our sciences have a very difficult time completing all the requirements and graduating with 120 credits.”

Along with the program changing the number of credits students are required to take, the program is also looking at changing how to assess student progress in the general education program. SU will be required to start assessing student learning in its general education program to maintain its regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), according to Drzyzga.

“When we tried to assess how our students were doing in the mid-2000s, we learned that our courses are working, but that there are a lot of gaps and holes that aren’t working,” Drzyzga said.

The problem stems from an inability to see what students are getting out of the program as a whole, not in individual courses, Drzyzga said.

According to Drzyzga, the council wants to communicate to students and parents that students will develop foundations, see and recognize how the they are connected, how they fit in culture, how the natural world works, where they fit in society as well as developing creativity in a general education program.

The plan hopes to be able to assess student progress in the different course options so that the goals of the program are clear to incoming students and their parents, so students can know what they are getting out of the general education program, Drzyzga said.

The assessments the program is considering to determine each student is reaching those objectives could either come in test form, or in an embedded system, according to Drzyzga.

The embedded system however, presents more challenges.

Embedded assessment could be anything from an assignment or questions on an exam that are part of what you normally do in class, Drzyzga said. It allows examiners to see if you are learning science, gaining an appreciation for art or using critical reasoning apart from the course to compare what is happening in each general education class to make sure students are reaching the same objectives in different courses, according to Drzyzga.

Drzyzga also stressed the importance of student involvement and for students to be aware that the changes are happening. The council has been meeting with Student Government to address the students’ needs, Drzyzga said.

The general education council hopes to have its proposal instituted by the 2018-19 academic year, according to Drzyzga.

AG Madigan & 20 AGs Oppose U.S. Dept. of Education’s Rollback of Student Loan Servicing Reforms

Reforms Informed by Madigan’s Investigation Into Student Loan Giant Navient Revoked by U.S. Department of Education

Chicago —(ENEWSPF)—April 24, 2017.  Attorney General Lisa Madigan today joined with 20 attorneys general and the Office of Consumer Protection of Hawaii calling out the U.S. Department of Education for abdicating its responsibility to millions of student loan borrowers and their families by revoking critical reforms designed to help borrowers avoid default and curtail loan servicer misconduct.

Madigan along with the other attorneys general and the Office of Consumer Protection of Hawaii sent a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos opposing the Department’s rescission of guidance to protect student loan borrowers and reform the student loan servicing industry.

“These reforms were a result of my investigation into one of the largest student loan companies in the country that showed the industry has repeatedly put borrowers into more expensive repayment options,” Madigan said. “The U.S. Department of Education must take action to protect student loan borrowers and reform the industry to put their needs ahead of private companies’ profits.”

Last year, in the wake of Attorney General Madigan’s investigation of Navient, the Department of Education issued guidance for the student loan servicing industry. The guidance required student loan servicers to inform struggling student borrowers about the availability of affordable income-based repayment plans. Madigan has since filed a lawsuit against Navient and its predecessor Sallie Mae for the companies’ widespread failures and mistreatment of student loan borrowers.

The Department of Education’s reforms addressed many of the findings of Madigan’s investigation into Navient by ensuring that student loan borrowers got accurate information about their loans and repayment options. The reforms also ensured consistency of service, increased servicer accountability, and enhanced transparency by student loan servicers. Critically, these reforms aimed to improve borrowers’ access to affordable loan repayment plans designed to help borrowers in distress avoid default. Now the Department’s action will instead leave student loan borrowers vulnerable to poor practices and abuses that the servicing reforms were designed to stop.

In the letter, Madigan and the attorneys general state the reforms are critical to helping borrowers who are struggling under the weight of their student loan debt, evidenced by an increasing rate of federal student loan defaults. In 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimated that more than 25 percent of student loan borrowers were delinquent or in default on a student loan.

“Many such borrowers would benefit greatly from entering income-driven repayment plans but are prevented from doing so by student loan servicer misconduct and misinformation,” the letter states.

Joining Madigan in sending today’s letter are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the Executive Director of the Office of Consumer Protection of Hawaii.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

Source: www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov

Federal grant to fight heroin epidemic – Story | WeAreCenralPA

Federal grant to fight heroin epidemicCopyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.





Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pa. – Governor Wolf announced that Pennsylvania secured a $26.5 million federal grant to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic. The departments of Aging, Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, and Human Services jointly filed the successful grant application that will increase access to treatment, reduce unmet treatment need, and reduce opioid overdose related deaths through the provision of prevention, treatment, and recovery activities for opioid use disorder (OUD).

“The scourge that is heroin and opioid abuse must be attacked and this significant influx of federal dollars will help us in our fight,” Governor Wolf said. “We are combatting this crisis head on; that’s why I’ve made Cures Act funding an integral part of my 2017-18 budget, so we can focus dollars where they are needed – to expand access to treatment services. This important funding will build upon my administration’s extensive efforts to combat this epidemic.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the grant, which was funded by the 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law by President Obama in December 2016. The $1 billion grant over the next two years is to help combat the heroin and opioid epidemic in all 50 states. Pennsylvania received the fourth-largest grant award, behind California, Texas, and Florida.

The Cures Act grant announcement is phase one of two and totals $485 million. States can use the federal grants to improve prescription drug monitoring programs, implement prevention activities, and train health care providers on overdose prevention and recognizing potential cases of substance abuse.

“This funding is critical for Pennsylvania,” said Jennifer Smith, Acting Secretary, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. “Families continue to be ravaged by the disease of addiction and we must stop the momentum of this epidemic.

“These funds will initially be used to identify gaps in treatment services and locations where there are capacity shortages. The grant will enhance prevention efforts and raise awareness of the disease and ways to find help.”

 Funding will support a comprehensive array of prevention, treatment, and recovery services depending on the needs of recipients. States and territories were awarded funds based on rates of overdose deaths and unmet need for heroin and opioid addiction treatment.

“Pennsylvania loses 10 people a day to this epidemic. Each one is someone’s family member, neighbor, colleague, and friend,” said Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas. “This funding will help the Wolf Administration continue to address the issue comprehensively through prevention, education, and treatment.” 

 The project will support a comprehensive response to the heroin and opioid epidemic using a strategic planning process to conduct needs and capacity assessments. The results of the assessments will identify gaps and resources from which to build upon existing substance use prevention and treatment activities.

-The commonwealth’s initial strategies have been developed and will include:

-Provide clinically appropriate treatment services to 6,000 individuals who are uninsured or underinsured.

-Expand treatment capacity for Medication Assisted Treatment for OUD.

-Expand treatment capacity for underserved populations by targeted workforce development and cultural competency training.

-Improve quality of prescribing practices through prescriber education.

-Increase community awareness of OUD issues and resources through public awareness activities.

-Expand implementation of warm hand-off referral practices to increase the number of patients transferred directly from the emergency department to substance use treatment.

-Increase the number of youth receiving evidence-based prevention and life skills education programs.

-Improve identification and referral of students for assessment and treatment by providing training to school personnel.

-Expand Pennsylvania’s integration of its Prescription Drug Monitoring Program data at the point-of-care, promoting ease-of-use of this data in clinical decision-making.

 “The Cures Act funding will be crucial in our fight against Pennsylvania’s opioid epidemic,” Department of Health Secretary Murphy said. “This funding will provide an opportunity for the commonwealth to enhance the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, providing physicians with the ability to monitor and control the overprescribing of opioids and help identify those who are in need of treatment.”

 “Substance use disorder, particularly relating to prescription drugs, among adults age 60 and older is one of the fastest growing health problems facing the country, yet it remains under-identified, under-diagnosed, and under-treated,” said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne.  “Securing this federal grant will enable the Wolf Administration to further strengthen its efforts to identify, treat, and provide a pathway to recovery across the lifespan.”

 In 2015, there were over 33,000 heroin and opioid deaths in the United States; 3,500 of those occurred in Pennsylvania.

Moran: Congress doesn’t back Trump’s education budget proposals

TOPEKA — The proposed 2018 federal budget from President Donald Trump’s administration that slashes $54 billion in discretionary spending — including a $9.2 billion cut to federal education spending but $1.4 billion more for school choice — largely doesn’t have support from Capitol Hill.

That was the message U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, delivered to members of the Kansas State Board of Education during a special meeting Saturday in Topeka.

“I think the dramatic reductions in spending would not be supported by enough senators to pass,” he said. “I want to make sure the process we’ve been through as an appropriations committee is what the end result is.”

“President Obama’s budget, I don’t know if it ever received a single vote for the eight years he was president,” Moran continued. “This president’s budget will receive little support as well.”

Vouchers and charter schools, which Trump and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are championing but which are a major concern for the public education community, can’t become a reality without congressional approval, Moran said.

“You can’t take money and put it into vouchers without Congress allowing that,” Moran said, adding that there haven’t been conversations among other lawmakers about pushing legislation forward to create vouchers. He said DeVos told him that there will be no federally mandated school vouchers for Kansas, and he said he will hold her to that promise.

“Her commitment to me was that there would be no federally required vouchers,” he said. “We would be an active opponent to any kind of increase in the federal government telling us how to run our schools here in Kansas.”

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson said that if Trump’s proposal to cut Title II funding for teacher quality initiatives and more money is put into charter schools and vouchers, Kansas will be “disproportionally hurt.”

“We don’t get a lot of that money anyway,” he said. “Charters and vouchers have a difficult time in our Kansas Constitution and rural state,” he said. “We’re not asking for more (money) but we can protect what we have. We’re asking for what is supposed to be coming to Kansas.”

When it comes to money for education in general, Moran said, the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed an FY17 funding bill that keeps education funding relatively flat.

“Education would receive the funding that it’s expecting and it will be consistent with what it has received in the past if we’re successful in getting out of the continuing resolution and getting these bills passed,” he said.

Moran said the labor, health and education spending bill for fiscal year 2017 is one of the largest outside of defense spending. He told state board members that “Labor H” is one of 12 spending bills that will be passed and the congressional continuing resolution will “go away” on or about April 28.

“We are headed in the direction I think you like,” Moran told board members. However, funding increases proposed by the Senate Appropriations subcommittee for Title I and II and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, are “very modest,” he conceded.

Funding for preschool and afterschool programs “has diminished just a little bit,” and career and technical education is going to stay at level funding, Moran said.

More money needs to flow from the federal level to the states to educate special education students under the IDEA, Moran said. He said that while Congress has never fully met its obligation to fund 40 percent of the total amount of money needed to educate children with disabilities, he will “continue that effort” for federal funding of the IDEA so state money for general education doesn’t have to be used to meet federal requirements to educate students with disabilities.

Board member Jim McNiece told Moran that he and his fellow board members want to make sure the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, is predictable so that the board’s “Kansans Can” vision “to lead the world in the success of every student” can move forward.

“We have a very challenging plan. It’s a moonshot, as we say, to do this,” he said. “It’s our unique plan. It’s not Florida’s or Washington’s or Maine’s. It’s Kansas. In that plan are some things we would like to continue to be funded.”

The ESSA, signed into law by President Obama in 2015, reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The ESSA allows states to have flexibility in determining accountability standards for student success.

McNiece said he would like to see how the state’s ESSA plans, which Kansas will submit to the U.S. Department of Education in October, play out. He said he is concerned, however, that the Trump administration hasn’t named an assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education who will approve ESSA plans.

“There needs to be an apparatus to have these plans approved,” McNiece said, adding that the concern is felt by elected and professional education officials nationwide. “There’s no review process. There’s nobody at home to do it. They’re not saving any money and they’re not helping us in this regard.”

Jim Porter, chairman of the board, told Moran one of his chief concerns is that Kansas is having a hard time attracting and retaining quality teachers.

“In some places, it is a crisis,” he said, adding that mentoring and professional development programs need to be funded. “If we don’t have teachers in our classrooms that are prepared to meet the needs of today’s students, we very well are not doing the best for them.”

Porter said even though the federal government provides just 10 percent of the state’s total education funding, what money Kansas gets from Washington, D.C., is important, particularly for remedial programs and increasing teacher quality.

“We couldn’t do without that,” he said, “especially in this era of state budget cuts. It would have a huge impact if we didn’t have it.”

Faculty Senate pushes for admission to federal grant program | The … – Texas State University


A Texas State University Faculty Senate meeting Feb. 8. Photo by: Jennifer Chacon | Staff Photographer

The Faculty Senate is creating an application to bring the McNair Program, a federal program providing funds and other resources to disadvantaged students wishing to pursue graduate studies, to the university.

The McNair Program is a discretionary, competitive grant which offers advancement through research and other scholarly opportunities geared toward earning a Ph.D.

“We’ve got a variety of academic support offerings already for students of different concentrations that are funded through this funding mechanism,” said Dr. Elizabeth Bishop, faculty senate member. “However, we don’t have the McNair (program), and the McNair is like the jewel in the crown.”

The McNair Program is part of the federal TRIO programs designed and supported by the U.S. Department of Education, and encourages the success of underrepresented individuals at post-secondary programs with the ultimate goal of earning a Ph.D.

“(The program) is about education and social transformation,” Bishop said. “It gives us a chance to prove the quality of what we’re doing in the classroom by sending our students out to the best Ph.D.-granting institutions across the country.”

The program is designed to encourage growth in STEM fields. However, it may be open to other fields, depending on the format of an institution’s proposal submitted to the Department of Education.

Currently, the McNair Program serves 18 higher learning institutions across Texas including University of North Texas, University of Texas at Austin and St. Edwards University.

Sonia Briseno, assistant director of the McNair Scholars Program at St. Edward’s University, said the university obtained the program in 2004. Since then, the university has served over 183 students through the program, which Briseno believes has been helpful to low-income, first generation college students.

“For many of them, they don’t know what a graduate degree means for them and what they need to do set themselves up for those opportunities,” Briseno said.

Participants who are underrepresented—according to the language of the Higher Education Act of 1965 from which the TRIO programs derive—must be low-income, first-generation college students with an emphasis on recruiting Black, Hispanic, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, Native American and Pacific Islanders.

“I am part Native Hawaiian, but I grew up in West Texas, and I never really felt connected to my roots,” said Amy Ontai, St. Edward’s McNair scholar. “I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to give back to the Native Hawaiian community, by allowing a greater representation of Native Hawaiians in doctoral degrees.”

Access to McNair funds is not limited to only those born in the U.S. The program is available to citizens, permanent residents and anyone in the U.S. for reasons that prove intent to become permanent residents.

Other criteria taken into account for the program include a review of the student’s academic background, faculty recommendations and a personal statement written by the student outlining his/her research goals.

Although the program only helps students throughout their undergraduate years, those involved in the program keep connected with the McNair faculty that helped guide them through their academic careers.

“They continue to check up on me and provide me help with applications,” said Isavannah Reyes, St. Edward’s McNair scholar. “Without their help, I am not sure I would be as motivated or prepared to apply to graduate school.”

Grants are awarded in five-year cycles with annual performance reviews. Over $40,000,000 will be allotted for the 2017 yearly budget for the McNair Program at the national level.

There are an estimated 164 institutions that will be awarded funds for the McNair program during the 2017-2018 school year, averaging an estimated $226,600 award per institution.

Depending on the size of the cohort admitted at each institution, the average award for each recipient of the McNair scholars comes out to $9,064.

RLC inks culinary arts agreement – Mt. Vernon Register

INA — Chefs and entrepreneurs alike have a new option to continue their education through Rend Lake College and beyond with a new articulation agreement with Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

RLC graduates with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts Management can now transfer seamlessly into Carbondale’s Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality and Tourism Administration. The transfer students would begin the four-year program at SIU-C as juniors and complete classes on campus for the remaining two years.

Chef Robert Wilson, Culinary Arts Lead Associate Professor, said creating this agreement with SIU-C was important to students who wanted to continue on for an advanced degree, but not leave the area.

We started this project about five years ago, and it took until recently to agree on a 2 + 2 approach. With this agreement, students graduating with an associate degree can enroll at SIU as a junior and only need to complete 60 more credits,” explained Wilson. “Right now, we’ve only had two students continue on to SIU, but we hope to see more of that in the future.”

RLC graduates will have to have an overall grade point average of 2.0 with a required list of classes to be completed at RLC. Many of those courses fall in the culinary arts program, but also include general education courses in business, communications, computer science, English, and psychology.

Once they transfer, RLC students will be in the Hospitality and Tourism Administration program at SIU-C, which falls in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Wilson said this is a bonus, because a hospitality degree expands opportunities beyond a two year culinary arts degree.

With an associate degree, a student can become an executive chef, a restaurant manager, and even a restaurant owner, but with a bachelor’s degree, that same student can become a general manager at a hotel and be the chef’s boss,” said Wilson. “A bachelor’s degree opens up a lot more mid- and high-level corporate management jobs.”

To learn more about RLC’s Culinary Arts program, contact Wilson at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1332 or wilsonr@rlc.edu.

Williams Elementary School Sounds Better | Preston Hollow People

Teachers' frequency modulation systems sync with students' hearing devices. (Photo: Tanner Garza)

Teachers’ frequency modulation systems sync with students’ hearing devices. (Photo: Tanner Garza)

The halls at Sudie L. Williams Elementary School echo with the familiar sounds of teachers explaining lessons and students answering queries.

However, it is only because of the school’s unique Oral Deaf Education program that dozens of students on campus are able to hear those questions at all.

Williams has long served students with auditory impairments in kindergarten through fifth grade. It is the only school in Dallas ISD that utilizes additional teachers and special technology to improve students’ access to grade-specific curriculum and instruction.

Students with a range of issues, including physical deformities that affect their ability to hear, travel to Williams daily from throughout the district and as far away as Farmers Branch and Carrolton to attend the school.

“We service a special population, because we have the special tools to do so, but all kids are special,” said Principal Michael Jackson.

Beginning last year, a greater emphasis has been placed on including auditory-impaired students in more general education programs at the school, rather than routinely pulling them from classes to receive specialized instruction in reading, he said.

Each classroom at Williams is helmed by a pair of teachers — a general education and a special education instructor — who teach in tandem. They also don personal frequency modulation systems that use radio waves to deliver speech signals to students who wear hearing aids and cochlear implants.

The technology, which syncs with the students’ hearing devices, provides students better access to sound and allows them to use their listening and speaking skills rather than sign language when interacting with each other and their teachers.

As a result, most of the school’s 40 auditory-impaired students are able to participate in a typical classroom setting alongside their 200-plus hearing classmates.

“We really do try to urge an inclusive environment, so the kids are getting on-grade-level instruction just like their peers are,” Jackson said.

It can be difficult for some students who experienced a delay in being identified as having auditory issues early in their lives or academic careers to adjust.

“They have had to make it the best way that they could with the tools that they had, so they read lips, and they’ll come up with ways to make it,” he explained.
Now, he said, it’s up to the teachers at Williams to use “diverse instructional strategies in order to bring those kids into the fold of understanding.”

The Oral Deaf Education program is “driven by teachers who are super passionate” about giving the students “not only access to instructional material, but also to self-advocacy,” Jackson said.

For example, students are responsible for keeping track of and maintaining their own hearing devices.

(Photo: Tanner Garza)

(Photo: Tanner Garza)

“You have to make sure that you wear it every day, check your batteries and all that,” explained fifth-grader Aaron Caracheo, who transferred to Williams last year from another school.

Jackson said all of the students on campus take the Oral Deaf Education program seriously.

“If a child loses a hearing aid, everybody is scrambling to find it,” he explained. “Think about the level of consciousness the students have to have. They’re not just thinking about themselves. They know that a student won’t have as much access to [instruction] because they don’t have a hearing aid.”

With the help of technology, 10-year-old Carecheo said he can better hear the teacher than at his previous school, where “it was tricky. … I had to ask the teacher again and again if she could repeat” information.

Special education teacher Molly Browning said Williams’ auditory-impaired students “are being pushed more. We are not pulling them out [of class]. We’re not saying, `You can’t do this.’ We’re saying, `You can do this, we’re gonna help.’ ”

Jackson agrees. “We push these kids as hard as we push everybody else. There’s no differentiation in terms of what the expectations are. And they rise up to the challenge. It’s pretty awesome.”

U of A Designated as a Minority Serving Institution by Department of Education


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The U.S. Department of Education recently designated the University of Arkansas as a Minority Serving Institution, specifically for American Indian or Alaska Native students. The designation recognizes that the U of A enrolls more than 300 American Indian and Alaska Native students, primarily members of the first group. The designation makes the U of A eligible for additional research grants and other types of federal education funding.

The specific designation was created by an executive order from President Barack Obama in late 2011, which led the U.S. Department of Education to establish the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education. The purpose of the initiative is to increase educational opportunities for students in both groups and to recognize and reward institutions that provide these opportunities.

“This designation by the Department of Education is a significant event for the University of Arkansas,” said Ro Di Brezzo, interim vice provost for diversity. “Achieving a diverse student body is an important priority for this campus and while there is much more to be done, this recognition is welcome. Several of our faculty and administrators have been working hard to raise the U of A’s profile among Native American students and we are grateful for their efforts.”

Schools designated as Minority Serving Institutions are also eligible to apply for and receive a variety of federal grants for research and other purposes.

“This is good news for our faculty and the various research centers at the U of A,” said Jim Rankin, vice provost for research and economic development. “This will open up opportunities that can benefit Native American students and, in fact, all students on this campus.”

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