Valerie C. Williams joins the Department as director in the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) within the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing the administration of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Cross posted from ED’s Homeroom Blog
Posted by Timothy Lawson, May 13, 2021
A Free All-Virtual Showcase of Game-Changing Innovations in EdTech
developed through ED and Programs Across Government
The ED Games Expo is an annual showcase of game-changing innovations in education technology (EdTech) developed through programs at the Department of Education (ED) and across the federal government. Since 2013, the Expo has been an in-person event at venues across Washington, D.C. Because of the COVID-19 national emergency, the 2021 ED Games Expo is moving online, from June 1 – 5, for an entirely virtual experience. Hosting virtually provides the unique opportunity to engage a national audience and to present content mindful of the pandemic and useful for educational programming in the summer and going forward.
In fiscal year 2020, OSERS’ Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) provided over $71.7 million to fund programs that help educate children and youth with disabilities to assist states, local districts and other organizations to improve results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities ages birth through 21.
Please read about these programs below.
Promoting Equity in Children’s Vision Health
Cindy Hillyer is the director of the Office of Early Childhood Education at Minneapolis Public Schools. Throughout her career, Cindy has led public health and education initiatives focused on cross sector collaboration and advancing equity. She currently serves on the University of Minnesota Institute on Community Integration Advisory Board; the Executive Committee of the City of Minneapolis Child Friendly City Initiative and chairs the Minnesota Early Childhood Vision Health Task Force-a National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health-Better Vision Together team.
Assistant Secretary Johnny Collett and Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim Richey visited Strong Foundations Charter School during the 2018 Back-to-School Tour.
October is Learning Disabilities/Dyslexia/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Awareness Month.
Seven years ago, one of my former students came to visit me and see the school I helped to found, Strong Foundations Charter School, a public charter school formed to provide excellent reading instruction to all students.
My former student was home from college where he majored in music and also played in two successful bands nearby. As we walked through the halls, he saw the elementary students working, some of whom were in Orton-Gillingham class—a structured reading approach to help students learn to read. I remarked that if he had been in a school like this, he might not have had to struggle so much with reading when he was younger.
His reply was bittersweet to me. “If I had been to a school like this, I might have been able to be your friend sooner.”
Dan Gaffney is a veteran educator and administrator, having spent 17 years with the Seaside School District in Oregon as an elementary principal and special education director. He later coordinated Clatsop County’s Preschool—Third Grade (P-3) Collaboration project to align programs and professional development for those working and involved with the education and care of children from birth to age 8. He also developed and directed Clatsop County’s early childhood health and education screening for 3 years. Dan has served on Oregon’s Northwest Early Learning Hub Governance Committee and Clatsop County’s Way to Wellville Strategic Council. Most recently, Dan directed the U.S. Department of Education-funded Preschool Pay for Success Feasibility Study involving Clatsop and Tillamook Counties in Oregon.
Kate Roper is the Assistant Director of Early Childhood Services in the Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). Roper oversees several state and federal grants, including Project LAUNCH and Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) grants, and co-leads the Massachusetts Pyramid Model State Leadership Team. Roper has been in the field of early childhood education since 1978 as an infant teacher, teen parent child care director, trainer, adjunct faculty member, and independent consultant and curriculum developer.
Eve Wilder is the ECCS Coordinator at DPH’s Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition. Wilder has managed early childhood projects at DPH through the state’s ECCS grant for over 7 years. She has worked to strengthen early childhood systems of care in a variety of capacities since 2005, from providing home-based services to young children with autism spectrum disorders, to policy and program development at the Massachusetts legislature and DPH.
Melody Arabo is the 2017–18 Teaching Ambassador Fellow for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and was honored to serve as the 2015 Michigan Teacher of the Year. She has been a third grade teacher at Keith Elementary in the Walled Lake Consolidated School District since 2002. She has a bachelor’s in elementary education and a master’s in teaching and curriculum, both from Michigan State University. Melody is a wife, mother of three, speaker and presenter, author, and bullying-prevention advocate.
I want to draw your attention to today’s News Release from the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner regarding the importance of inclusive education for all people, including persons with disabilities. Sometimes I think we forget that our shared work to develop more inclusive schools is, in fact, the foundation of peace in our communities and in our world. Thank you for your peacebuilding work; we have so much more to do.
As you enter the new school year, I hope you will find many opportunities to reflect on Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which the U.S. ratified after World War II. The UDHR serves as the foundational document for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and for all of the other human rights conventions. The CRPD contains no new rights, but helps to explain how modern nations have agreed to interpret the rights of persons with disabilities.
Article 1 of the UDHR reads:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
I have a UDHR app on my smart phone so that I may try to learn more. I hope you will look it up, too. It is amazing how applicable it is in daily life.
Please share the U.N. News Release.
On April 21st, the U.S. Department of Education came together with the White House and numerous public and private partners to announce our shared commitment to improving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in early learning (Preschool–3rd Grade). Early engagement in STEM is critical for our youngest learners because opportunity gaps in STEM can begin prior to preschool—and they can continue grow as students progress through school. There are a host of ways that the public and private sectors can partner to better address this STEM opportunity gap in early learning, such as integrating STEM with the arts and literacy, and using education technologies including screen media (e.g., television, computers, videogames, tablets). We believe that the use of technology can be an important tool for closing these gaps when used intentionally and appropriately in conjunction with other forms of pedagogy.
The U.S. Department of Education would like to initiate a discussion with the early learning and STEM communities on how best to engage and support parents, caregivers, educators, researchers and developers on how to eliminate opportunity gaps in early childhood STEM education, especially by leveraging education technologies. This conversation will inform federal policy decisions in the coming months.
Call to Action:
We ask early childhood educators and researchers, in particular, to help address these fundamental questions:
- Recommendations for screen media use in early childhood vary. It is difficult for educators, parents and caregivers to make informed decisions about which content is effective and how and when to use it. For example, how can educators, parents and caregivers best determine what content is age-appropriate?
- How can we make it easier for educators, parents and caregivers to select applications that are high quality and proven effective? What research gaps do we need to address to inform these types of decisions?
- How do we effectively support professional development (PD) for educators to facilitate the effective use of education technologies to close STEM opportunity gaps in early learning settings? How can education technologies help provide effective PD?
- How can we help media developers address the needs of diverse students and those with special needs to increase student engagement, and to promote social emotional learning?
- How can we bridge the opportunity gaps between STEM education, literacy, and the arts? What, if any, is the role of technology and screen media in these efforts?
Please submit your comments and questions in the open forum of OESE’s original Blog (no comments accepted on this OSERS cross-post) by 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday, May 13, 2016. We seek open and robust discussion of these issues so that we can improve education outcomes for all young children and provide effective guidance for parents, caregivers, and educators.
Recommended Reading (in chronological order):
- Media Use By Children Younger Than 2 Years
American Academy of Pediatrics (2011)
- Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8
Fred Rogers Center and NAEYC (2012)
- Envisioning a Digital Age Architecture for Early Education
New America Foundation (2014)
- Tech in the Early Years: What Do We Know and Why Does It Matter?
Fred Rogers Center (2014)
- Screen Sense: Setting the Record Straight
Zero to Three (2014)
- Getting a Read on the App Stores : A Market Scan and Analysis of Children’s Literacy Apps
Joan Ganz Cooney Center (2015)
- Beyond Turn it off: How to Advise Families on Media Use
American Academy of Pediatrics (2015)
- Apps en familia: Guía para usar apps con tus hijos
Joan Ganz Cooney Center (2015)
- Use of Technology to Support Early Childhood Practice: Full Report
Health and Human Services Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (2015)
- Opportunity for All? Technology and Learning in Lower-Income Families
Joan Ganz Cooney Center (2016)
Note: These resource materials are provided for the user’s convenience. The inclusion of these materials is not intended to reflect its importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered. These materials may contain the views and recommendations of various subject matter experts as well as hypertext links, contact addresses and websites to information created and maintained by other public and private organizations. The opinions expressed in any of these materials do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of any outside information included in these materials.