Reaching Bilingual Teachers Earlier in the Pipeline: Proposed Priorities for the National Professional Development Program

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom.
Reaching Bilingual Teachers Earlier In The Pipeline:

Proposed Priorities For The National Professional Development Program

By: Montserrat Garibay, Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director, Office of English Language Acquisition

I clearly remember my first day of middle school as a newly arrived student from Mexico in Austin, Texas, I didn’t speak a word of English and was nervous to start a new life with my mother and sister.  My first class looked like the United Nations, students from all over the world speaking different languages, we were shy and scared.  It wasn’t until, our ESL teacher, Mrs. Hernandez welcomed us with a big smile that I knew t I was going to be fine. My feelings were confirmed when I heard her speak Spanish.

Within a few months, everyone in the class was learning. Mrs. Hernandez had high expectations for all the students; her classes were rigorous, she had us working in groups, collaborating, singing, and using different strategies. Her classroom was full of diverse books, multicultural pictures and a world map with our pictures and displaying our best work. She had also established a strong relationship with my mom and would communicate with her often to let her know how I was doing in school. She would share about different resources such as food banks and after school programs for tutoring.

Within a year, I was able to transition to regular English classes. Years later, I graduated from high school all because of Mrs. Hernandez’s strong foundation., she helped me believe in myself.  Mrs. Hernandez was my inspiration to become a bilingual teacher. I wanted to be just like her. Her presence inspired me to embrace multilingualism, become a critical thinker, and actively engage with families. That experience fueled my passion for education and led me to become a teacher.

Nearly a decade later, when I was a bilingual pre-k teacher at the same school district where I attended middle school and graduated from high school in Austin, Texas, I had the opportunity to pursue my master’s degree in Bilingual Education at the University of Texas at Austin through Proyecto Maestria, a National Professional Development (NPD) grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

At the time, Proyecto Maestria may not have been called a “grow-your-own” effort, but it had the components of what we know today to be beneficial. This grant opened the door to expand my knowledge about the importance of quality bilingual education, the impact that it can have on promoting biliterate and bicultural students, and the benefit of continuing as a bilingual teacher in my home community. That NPD grant had a significant impact on my life because it provided me with the opportunity to continue my education with the goal of providing an exceptional education for my students. Getting to this point in my career though, wasn’t easy. I had to navigate working multiple jobs to pay for my tuition, being a first-generation college student, taking remedial math classes to be proficient in math. I can only imagine how many more doors it could open if it were available for aspiring educators who need help getting their foot in the door – who perhaps like me, want to serve kids like the ones we were, but don’t have all the resources to get started.

This is why the Department is proposing new priorities, requirements, and definitions in the NPD program that would grow our numbers of bilingual and multilingual educators to expand the availability of bilingual programs for all students and help ensure that English Learners have access to well-prepared educators,  and emphasize and elevate supports for students from low-income backgrounds. The Notice of Proposed Priorities (Federal Register :: Proposed Priorities, Requirements, and Definitions-National Professional Development Program invites public comment for 30 days.

Montserrat Garibay is the Assistant Deputy Secretary & Director for the Office of English Language Acquisition at the U.S. Department of Education. Previously, she served as the Senior Advisor for Labor Relations at the Office of Secretary for two years. Garibay was a bilingual pre-kindergarten teacher for eight years and a National Board-Certified Teacher in Austin, Texas. She served as Vice President for Certified Employees with Education Austin, a merged union local with the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. She graduated from the University of Texas-Austin with a Master of Education. 

Digital Equity Champions for All Learners: Madison College High School Equivalency Program Builds Digital Skills among Migrant and Seasonal Farm Workers

This is crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology.

In Wisconsin, Madison College’s High School Equivalency Program (HEP) supports migrant and seasonal farm workers and their families earning their Certificate of General Educational Development (GED) or High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED). Learners in this program are mostly mobile, and they come from across the entire state, often rural and remote areas. Therefore, even prior to COVID-19, program director Alex Fernández needed ways to enable learner access to the program from remote locations. Then, the onset of the pandemic accelerated the need for digital access and skills. 

To meet learners’ device access needs, Madison College created the Technology Access Program to loan laptops and hotspots to registered students, including HEP participants, free of charge. The HEP program also informed learners about federal programs such as the Affordable Connectivity Program. Learners were encouraged to use their cell phones to access content in areas with unreliable internet service, and instructors provided technical support and flexibility with submitting assignments. 

When the GED exam transitioned online, students needed to learn both exam content and digital skills to navigate the exam platform. Elizabeth Fontán, an HEP instructor at Madison College, found that learners’ hesitancy to use technology and lack of support in home languages served as significant barriers to acquiring digital literacy skills. “My students were overwhelmed by computers,” Fontán explained. She began meeting her learners’ needs by leveraging materials translated into Spanish. Fontán also integrated digital skill-building opportunities into instructional content and sought to destigmatize learners’ lack of knowledge on how to use technology. “We take for granted the skills of opening a document, attaching files,” said Fontán. “These need to be built in[to the curriculum].” 

The program has observed the impact of device access, skill-building opportunities, technical support, and attention to factors that contribute to learner success like childcare and course/assignment flexibility. For example, prior to the pandemic, Madison College HEP began offering online opportunities for learners to build digital skills and work towards their HSED on the weekends to accommodate learners whose schedules had limited flexibility during the weekday.  Currently, recognizing that some learners live in migratory camps and share limited physical space with their families, the program is working to implement stipends for childcare, so learners can better participate in remote learning. 

With these supports, learners have been better able to persist in the program and often continue their educational journey past their HSED/GED, taking other classes offered at the college. Fontán shared the story of Ignacia, who had participated in the program for many years but hadn’t passed the GED tests. Although she was initially intimidated by the transition online, she used remote learning opportunities to her advantage, especially given her busy schedule as a certified nursing assistant. Leveraging the flexibility of online classes and competency-based – rather than exam-based – coursework, Ignacia recently graduated from Madison College HEP and plans to enroll in a nursing program soon. 

Learners are additionally provided with a personal device upon completion of the program, which enables them to continue leveraging technology to meet their and their families’ needs, such as assisting their children with schoolwork. Fernández says the program helps them “see they can do things they didn’t think they were capable of.” 

When asked for advice for states developing digital equity plans, Fernández stressed the importance of sharing program successes with leaders at the local and state level. “These programs might not be on their radar until it is highlighted. We need to advocate for these things because it takes money. We need to convince people to allocate funds for this.” For educators and educational leaders, Fontán encouraged the explicit inclusion of digital skill-building opportunities when developing curricula with digital elements.

Apprentice Trailblazers: Share your story, build the future

This is crossposted from the U.S. Department of Labor blog.

This year marks the 86th anniversary of the National Apprenticeship Act, which established the Registered Apprenticeship system as we know it today. As the apprenticeship system continues to evolve, expand and diversify, Registered Apprenticeship continues to serve as a gold standard of work-based learning.

In honor of Registered Apprenticeship’s transformative impact on the lives of millions of apprentices over the past 86 years, we’re launching the Apprentice Trailblazer Initiative. This new initiative will create a national network of apprentices and apprenticeship graduates from all walks of life and give them a platform to feature their stories, share their experiences on Registered Apprenticeship, and show how apprenticeships increase opportunities for all communities, particularly underserved populations.

The Apprentice Trailblazer Initiative is a part of our broader Youth Employment Works strategy, which supports policies, partnerships and strategies to provide equitable access for all young people to prepare for high-quality career paths through Registered Apprenticeship.

The first cohort of Apprentice Trailblazers will focus on youth ages 16-24. We’ve seen how Registered Apprenticeship provides young people the unique opportunity to gain critical skills and work experience in their early working years and access to a career pathway and free education, often including college credit and even a degree. Serving as an Apprentice Trailblazer will offer additional professional development opportunities for apprentices and graduates, as participants will have the chance to enhance their leadership and teamwork skills and engage in networking and mentorship.

As we turn towards the future of Registered Apprenticeship, we must ensure that all youth, especially those from traditionally underrepresented populations, have access to these opportunities for good jobs and high-growth career pathways.

Apply to become an Apprentice Trailblazer

We are calling on all youth apprentices and recent graduates interested in becoming Apprentice Trailblazers to coordinate with your Registered Apprenticeship sponsors on the application. The application deadline for the first cohort is Sept. 30, and we plan to announce the first cohort of youth Apprentice Trailblazers during National Apprenticeship Week, Nov. 13-19.

Visit the Apprentice Trailblazer page to find the application and learn more about the initiative.

Please spread the word throughout your networks, encourage youth apprentices and recent graduates to apply, and remember to tag us on social media with #ApprenticeTrailblazers and #ApprenticeshipUSA.

Brent Parton is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department’s Employment and Training Administration.

Watch Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su announce the Apprentice Trailblazers Program.

Launching the Career Connected High School Grant Program

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom.
Launching The Career Connected High School Grant Program

For far too long, there have been invisible walls between K-12, higher education, and workforce systems treated like they’re set in stone. That you need to complete one before moving on to the next. But the reality is that there’s a lot more overlap, and it’s time to Raise the Bar and reimagine high school in this country.

That means that in high schools of the future, college is one, but not the only, pathway to a brighter future. And in high schools of the future, every student graduates with the tools they need to “Unlocking Career Success.”

That’s why today, at the Unlocking Pathways Summit in Aurora, Colorado, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced the launch of a new $25 million Career Connected High School Grant program. This program will provide grants to consortia of local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, and employers to pilot evidence-based strategies to increase the integration and alignment of the last two years of high school and the first two years of postsecondary education to improve postsecondary education and career outcomes for all students.

These grants – and these summits  – are part of the Raise the Bar: Unlocking Career Success initiative, aimed at helping young Americans access good-paying jobs created by President Biden’s Bidenomics agenda. This cross-government effort seeks to increase and expand access to high-quality career pathways to help young Americans pursue jobs in today’s in-demand fields and be prepared for careers of the future. These summits, which are co-hosted by Jobs for the Future and partnering federal agencies, including the Departments of Labor, Commerce, Energy, and Transporation, bring together state and local leaders to discuss their youth workforce strategies and efforts that they can lead to create high schools of the future and ensure that every student is on a path to success.

Grantees can use funds for a variety of different activities based on the need of the region, including additional dual enrollment classes, covering the costs of tuition, books, supplies, and other related expenses for low-income students, tutoring, other academic supports, transportation for students to work-based learning sites, the development of new career & technical education (CTE) programs in high-growth fields like clean energy or to support teacher training and new equipment that may be needed to launch these programs.

The notice inviting applications (NIA) is now live here, and for more information about how the Department is working to strengthen college and career pathways sign up for our newsletter here.

Together, we can Unlock Career Success for all of our students.

Digital Equity Champions for All Learners: How UnidosUS’ Padres Comprometidos Program Empowers Latino Parents with Digital Skills to Support Learners

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology website.

UnidosUS is the largest nonprofit Latino civil rights advocacy organization in the United States. As part of the organization’s commitment to student success, UnidosUS launched the Padres Comprometidos program to support Latino parents’ ability to navigate the public school system and empower them as advocates for their child’s education.

In a conversation with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology, Jose Rodriguez, UnidosUS’ director of parent and community engagement, described the reality of the digital divide for Latino parents. Many parents and caregivers do not have the necessary technology to engage with the school system, and even among those that do, many do not understand how to fully leverage that technology to meet their needs. For example, Rodriguez explained that many parents might only have a mobile device to access the Internet, and they might not be familiar with e-mail systems and other digital tools.

In response, Rodriguez and his team built the Padres Comprometidos Ed Tech Program to help develop Latino parents’ understanding of how they can use technology to their advantage. UnidosUS developed resources and curricula that showcase how to use common digital platforms and learning management systems used by schools. By offering these resources in partnership with schools, districts, and local PTAs, the program enables parents to use digital tools to build stronger relationships with teachers and school leaders.

Rodriguez said, “I knew that most of the [platforms] had the same features — they had a microphone that you could mute and unmute, they had a camera that you could turn on and turn off, they had a chat [function], and they had the raise your hand feature. So…I started creating lessons, which became our materials for the PC Ed Tech curriculum.” According to independent evaluations, the program has consistently increased Latino parents’ engagement with teachers and school administrators. Additionally, students whose parents were in the program were more likely to be involved in extracurricular activities, and after the program, parents were found to spend more time at the school and play a “larger role in preparing their child for college”.

Rodriguez said that his personal experiences with linguistic discrimination shaped his perspective on barriers that immigrant parents face when engaging with their child’s education. “I’m constantly thinking about the parents and thinking about the families and the caregivers and how to get them the material in a language or in a format that is comprehensible to them,” he said.

Additionally, Rodriguez spoke about UnidosUS’ Digital Skills for Life program, a workforce development initiative that teaches in-demand skills. In partnership with Google, UnidosUS implements this 5-week, cohort-based program, which teaches adult learners – including many parents – fundamental digital skills, such as basic computer software and hardware knowledge, web navigation, and digital communications. Rodriguez discussed how the program unlocks opportunities for parents in many aspects of their daily lives, saying, “Digital Skills for Life is helping the parents connect with…doctors, it is helping them do online banking, it is helping them by preparing them for the 21st century.”

The Padres Comprometidos and Digital Skills for Life programs demonstrate how digital access and skill-building opportunities can support parents from underserved communities to navigate the public school system and empower them to become advocates for their child’s education. By providing resources and training programs that showcase how to use educational technology platforms and leverage digital tools, leaders can help build stronger relationships between parents/caregivers and schools and support families in meeting their holistic needs, which can have long-term benefits for students.

My Hometown Community College & The Change It’s Made In Me

This was crossposted by the U.S. Department of Education’s blog, Homeroom.

By: Ángel Gabriel Garcia, Student at Oxnard College

My name is Ángel Gabriel Garcia, and I am a proud first-generation community college student at Oxnard College. I was born and raised in Oxnard, California, a city that’s often ridiculed and overlooked due to its high concentration of immigrant families and poverty. The ugly and negative stereotypes I’ve heard about my community over the years have instilled a burning passion in me to prove the cynics wrong and show my community’s beauty. Thanks to my community college, I’ve been able to start doing just that.

My community college experience has given me the support and space to develop my academic skills and advocate for the people and spaces I care about. For me, community colleges offered hope and an opportunity to stop the deepening cycles of poverty that so many immigrant families tragically fall into. Community colleges provide a path for young people to bring generational transformation to their families through better-paying careers and life-changing opportunities. I have personally been blessed with immigrant parents who have encouraged my siblings and me to achieve a higher level of education. My community college has given my family that opportunity and helped countless neighbors, friends, and relatives of mine to do the same.

I’ve also been given a chance to participate in our Associated Student Government (ASG), which has given me incredible experiences to speak out on issues impacting my community and to develop my leadership skills as a young adult. I’ve combined those skills with my passion for art, which I use to raise awareness on important issues impacting students and my community, such as mental health, LGBTQIA+ rights, and the rights of undocumented families, including some of my own relatives. After graduating, I plan to eventually transfer to a four-year university where I’ll continue majoring in art and exploring opportunities to make an impact in the community I love.

In short, my community college experience has helped me blossom and pursue the goals I have set for myself and my family. My community college has provided me with the resources and education I need to get ahead. I never feel like a number on this campus, and I know no other place that would have given me this opportunity. I am eternally grateful to Oxnard and its community college for shaping me into the person I am today and I hope to continue this new cycle of growth, education, and hope for my family in the years to come.

Ángel Gabriel Garcia is a proud first generation community college student at Oxnard College where he is majoring in Studio Arts. Ángel is the Senator of Academic Affairs in the college Associated Student Government. Ángel is in his second year at Oxnard College.

Student Loan Debt Relief Do’s and Don’ts

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom.

student loan debt relief do's and don'ts



DON’T pay anyone who contacts you with promises of debt relief or loan forgiveness. YOU DO NOT NEED TO PAY ANYONE TO OBTAIN DEBT RELIEF. The application will be free and easy to use when it opens in October.

DON’T reveal your FSA ID or account information or password to anyone who contacts you. The Department of Education and your federal student loan servicer will never call or email you asking for this information.

DON’T ever give personal or financial information to an unfamiliar caller. When in doubt, hang up and call your student loan servicer directly. You can find your federal student loan servicer’s contact information at

DON’T refinance your federal student loans unless you know the risks. If you refinance federal student loans that are eligible for debt relief into a private loan, you will lose out on important benefits like one-time debt relief and flexible repayment plans for federal loans.

DO sign up at to be notified when the Student Loan Debt Relief application becomes available.

DO create an FSA ID at You will not need it for the debt relief application but having an FSA ID can allow you to easily access accurate information on your loan and make sure FSA can contact you directly, helping you equip yourself against scammers trying to contact you. Log in to your current account on and keep your contact info up to date. If you need help logging in follow these tips on accessing your account.

DO make sure your loan servicer has your most current contact information. If you don’t know who your servicer is, you can log into and see your servicer(s) in your account.

DO report scammers to the Federal Trade Commission by visiting

Hispanic Heritage Month: “La Historia De Mi Gente”

This was crossposted by the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom

Hispanic Heritage Month: "La Historia De Mi Gente"

By: Amanda Zepeda

My first teachers were my parents. Both grew up in immigrant households in the vibrant city of Los Angeles. They were Chicano latch-key-kids of the 1970s. My father began working at a young age, supplementing the family’s income with a paper route before school and gardening work with my grandfather on the weekend. My mother loved reading and writing. She was always naturally good with numbers and words, which made her stand out in her classes. Both were quick-witted and capable, and yet neither of them were particularly pushed by their parents academically. As a defiant reaction to this, my parents made it a point to repeat phrases such as “Appreciate what you have”, “Pay attention in school”, and “You’re going to college!”. They made it their mission to ‘break the cycle’ and give us what they had not been given.

My dad eventually got a job right out of high school, and my mom made her way to a four-year university, encouraged to do so by her teachers. She dropped out before graduating, but eventually went back almost twenty years later to cross that stage. The experiences that they had helped to shape who they became and thus shaped how they decided to raise my siblings and me. They taught us the importance of family, to show compassion, to persevere, and most importantly, the value of education.

I believe education is the most valuable source of freedom a person can have. Throughout history, people have been imprisoned, punished, and castigated over knowledge. Thousands have fought to obtain it and others have fought to keep people from having it. Knowledge is our way to success; knowledge of our culture, knowledge of our people, and knowledge of our history.

Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, I was surrounded by my Latino community. However, I did not always see myself or my community represented in school. We learned about Columbus, the California Missions, George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and many other topics and yet the accomplishments of my communities were mysteriously missing from our textbooks and discussions. While those people and events are important to understand the complexity of United States history, they do not tell the complete story.

The first time I had a Latina teacher was the first time I had a teacher that spoke like me, looked like me, and had stories like mine. I did not have this experience until I was in community college. Before this, I had felt disconnected from my history, my family’s story, and myself for so long. I didn’t even realize anything was wrong. Sitting in my first Ethnic Studies class was the first time I learned about Native resistance against Europeans throughout North America, or about empowered Chicanas in the 1960s demanding social change, or about the intertwined history between the United States and Latin America. It was my history; my family’s story being told. A story of immigration, loss, trauma, love, strength, and perseverance. La historia de mi gente. I realized that this is what I wanted for the next generation. I didn’t want them to wait twenty years to hear their stories. I wanted them to see themselves reflected, acknowledged, and valued in their K-12 classes. So, I decided to continue what my parents had begun, to attempt to “break the cycle” of lack of education for as many kids as I could. I decided to become a teacher.

Celebrating Latino Heritage month to me means commemorating and acknowledging those that came before us. It means honoring our ancestors and sharing their powerful stories in and outside the classroom. Stories of community, of resistance, of love, of passion, of struggle and of achievement. Stories that we can learn from, that will bring us together, and make us stronger.

Amanda Zepeda is a second generation Chicana from the San Fernando Valley. She was a community college transfer student that graduated from San Francisco State University with a double major in History and Latina/o Studies and a minor is Race and Resistance. This is her second year as a high school educator teaching both Ethnic Studies and United States History and has been working within the education field for the past eight years.

Focusing Efforts for Educational System Improvements in Puerto Rico

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom.

Focusing efforts for educational system improvements in Puerto Rico

By: Chris Soto, Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary

The Puerto Rico education system is at a pivotal moment with many influences converging to help accelerate positive change for the Puerto Rico Department of Education, and ultimately the students it serves. The combination of the influx of federal relief dollars, a strengthened relationship with the U.S. Department of Education, and an island-wide recognition of the urgency for structural changes that address root causes and prioritize student outcomes, provides an opportunity to take a proactive approach towards addressing long-standing challenges.

It was just over a year ago when U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona reaffirmed the U.S. Department of Education’s commitment to support the students of Puerto Rico. Since then, the work has progressed including consistent engagement with stakeholders across the island ensuring everyone’s voice is included as Puerto Rico invests nearly five billion dollars of federal education relief funds to respond to the needs of students and educators. Thanks to the help of these federal funds, schools reopened with a nurse in most buildings, hundreds of school psychologists were hired, an island-wide after-school program was launched and most significantly, teachers will see a significant pay increase starting in the next school year.

The Department of Education also constituted the Puerto Rico Education Sustainability (PRES) Team, which initially focused on three key areas: financial responsibility, safe and healthy school buildings, and federal program support. Our colleagues at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have been working closely with the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) as they craft a master infrastructure plan for the repair and rebuilding of schools. Alvarez & Marsal, the PRDE’s Third-Party Fiduciary Agent, has been embedded at the PRDE and will soon release a corrective action plan for fiscal improvements. And today, the Department is releasing a comprehensive technical assistance plan that responds directly to the needs of PRDE staff in the management of federal programs and funds.

Additionally, we’ve engaged directly with Puerto Rico’s legislature, hosting an informational session about the historic amount of federal education funds made available to the island and the Department reinforced the Secretary’s message of transparency as investments are made. We’ve also worked with the PRDE, sharing best practice examples of state dashboards that track the spending of relief dollars such as those in New Mexico and Louisiana.

Following two natural disasters and a global pandemic, it is critical that trust is rebuilt with students and families across the island. The public should be aware of how federal funds are contributing to the educational recovery of their schools and actually see the benefits in classrooms across the island.

While progress has been made, we know there is more work to do.

During this year, it has become evident that in order to achieve transformational change, we must collectively address the longstanding systemic issues that continue to hinder the effective operation of Puerto Rico’s education system. That’s why the Department of Education, in collaboration with the PRDE and through feedback received from stakeholders, will develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) identifying specific areas for improvement that are critical to the system’s success. Formal listening sessions will be held throughout the island in order to ensure maximum participation from students, parents, teachers, and stakeholders. This MOU will represent the next phase of our collective work.

As communicated in Puerto Rico’s ARP ESSER Plan approval letter, ongoing engagement with all stakeholders is vital to ensure that implementation of Puerto Rico’s recovery plan and the use of federal dollars is transparent, effective, equitable, inclusive, and best meets the needs of Puerto Rico’s students.

Today is another step towards progress in order to meet the moment for the students of Puerto Rico.

Growing Pathways To Success For All Students

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom.

A Call to Action featuring Education, Labor, and Commerce Secretaries June 1, 1:30 p.m. ET

By: Amy Loyd, Senior Advisor

This is our moment to truly reimagine education. This is our moment to lift our students, our education system, and our country to a level never before seen. As the great Congressman Lewis said, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”

-Secretary Cardona’s Vision for Education in America (2022)

Imagine a high school in which every single student is energized, excited, and engaged in powerful learning that connects them to their communities, nurtures their career aspirations, and provides them with a head start on college. These students are thriving in rigorous academics, earning several college credits before graduating from high school—including their first college math and English classes, and two classes connected to their possible future careers. These students, along with their families, receive personalized and ongoing career and college advising and navigation supports so that they make informed decisions about the classes they take, the pathways they pursue, and the goals they set for their lives.

These students also earn industry credentials that today’s employers seek and need, so that they can successfully launch careers with valuable skills and confidence. They apply their knowledge and skills in real-world settings, extending their learning beyond the classroom and into the workplace and community. They explore the world of work through paid internships and apprenticeships with leading professionals who mentor them; provide them with ongoing feedback and support to help them grow; connect them to networks of other professionals; and honor their knowledge, skills, and experiences by engaging them in meaningful work that shapes their futures. Then, after high school, they all go on to earn postsecondary credentials that open the doors to future education and rewarding career possibilities. These career and college pathways are option multipliers for students, and through them, students become young professionals who transform our workplaces, our economies, and our communities for the better.

We believe that this is our moment, and our responsibility to reimagine and redesign our education system so that it better prepares every young person for a successful and joyful future. There are already exemplary policies and practices across the country that align with and advance this bold vision. Our goal is to move from a nation of great pathways programs in some places to a nation with transformative systems of multiple pathways to success for every young person.

The pandemic has laid bare longstanding inequities in education and exacerbated them further. Far too few students—especially students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, students from rural communities, students with disabilities, and students who are first-generation college-goers—have had the opportunity to get a leg up on college and career pathways while they are still in high school. We want all students, not just those fortunate to be in high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) programs or strong dual enrollment and early college programs, to be on pathways through higher education that lead to rewarding careers.

Postsecondary credential attainment rates remain unacceptably low and inequitable, with slow growth despite concerted efforts and investments over many years. Further, the decline in enrollment in higher education—especially in our community colleges—throughout the pandemic is only widening the equity gaps in outcomes. These trends are troubling because postsecondary credentials are essential for our students, our workforce, and our economy: 70% of today’s jobs require a postsecondary credential, as do the majority of new jobs created in the post-recession economy.

The pandemic has also reshaped labor markets and the world of work, yet our education and training systems have not kept up with the dynamism of the economy. We are leaving good-paying jobs unfilled and too many hard-working Americans continue to struggle. Given this reality—and particularly as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law creates good-paying jobs in in-demand fields—this fundamental reimagination of education is more important than ever to students and the future of our nation.

To that end, we ask you to join us June 1 at 1:30 p.m. ET for a call to action virtual event focused on growing pathways to success. This event will feature remarks from Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, as well as students, parents, educators, and employers. They will all share their perspectives on the value and need for career and college pathways. Additionally, leaders from the Department of Education will provide an overview of the core strategies of this initiative and ask you to consider what commitments you can make to it.

Over the coming months, we’ll be working to galvanize a coalition of educators, employers, and community leaders committed to transforming how students transition from high school through postsecondary education and into careers. We need your leadership, partnership, and commitment to advance this critical work.

This effort builds on the proposed investment in career-connected high schools in President Biden’s FY 2023 Budget. The proposed $200 million investment in Career-Connected High Schools would support competitive grants to grow and build models of this bold vision. Funding would support partnerships between local educational agencies, institutions of higher education—including community colleges—and employers, to support early enrollment in postsecondary and career-connected coursework; work-based learning opportunities; and academic and career counseling across the last two years of high school and the first two years of postsecondary education.

The Department of Education looks forward to supporting states and communities stepping up to embrace this vision and working in partnership to build an education system through which our students fulfill their endless potential. This includes:

  • Working closely with the Department of Labor, the Department of Commerce, and other agency partners;
  • Convening students, educators, employers, and other stakeholders to learn about practices that have led to success and challenges that must be addressed;
  • Providing resources and tools to support strong pathways approaches.

The success of these pathways relies on the interdependence of diverse stakeholders: students and families, PK-12 education, higher education, business and industry, workforce and economic development, community-based and faith-based organizations, government, and other community leaders.

Whatever your relationship in this ecosystem may be, we want to hear about your work in career and college pathways. Please reach out to our team at We welcome the opportunity to connect with you more about this. Additionally, you can get news about the Department’s work to strengthen career and college pathways through the OCTAE Connections newsletter. Sign up here to subscribe.

We have before us a powerful opportunity for transformation. If ever there was a moment for us to hit a reset button in education and transform how education bridges young people to their futures, and to “lift our country to a level never before seen,” it’s now. And if not us, who? If not now, when? We look forward to partnering with you in bringing this bold vision to life.

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