U.S. Secretary of Education and Senior Staff to Participate in National Family Engagement Conference in Cincinnati

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U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and senior Department officials will participate in the Institute for Educational Leadership’s National Family Engagement Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 8−9, in Cincinnati. On April 8, Duncan will host a Twitter Chat with parents and educators attending the conference at 9 p.m. ET. He will discuss the value of parent/teacher and community involvement in improving educational outcomes for all children, and the department’s efforts to assist in that engagement. Duncan also will gather feedback on best practices for community and parental engagement. You can follow the chat using the hashtag #PTchat and follow @ArneDuncan. The conference hashtag is #fceconf14.

Earlier Tuesday, at 2 p.m., Brenda Girton-Mitchell, director of the Department’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, will give brief welcoming remarks at the opening plenary session titled “Beyond the Bake Sale: Let’s Put the Evidence to Work.” She also will introduce a video with remarks by Secretary Duncan. Later in the evening at 6 p.m., Jonathan Brice, deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, will give remarks during the evening plenary titled “Family Engagement and Educational Equity.” He will discuss ways that schools can ensure high-quality education and high levels of achievement for all students through authentic engagement with families and through expanded access to educational opportunities.

On Wednesday, April 9, at 8:30 a.m., Sue Swenson, deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, will give remarks on how to build positive relationships between school personnel and families of children with disabilities during the plenary “Examining Power: Engaging Parents and Educators to Advocate for Inclusive Practices.”

As shown in the Department’s recently released comprehensive Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), far too many African Americans and other students of color do not have equal educational opportunities, and far too many are disproportionately affected by suspensions and zero-tolerance policies in schools. Research shows that suspended students are more likely to repeat a grade, drop out, and become involved in the juvenile justice system. The president’s new initiative, My Brother’s Keeper, launched in February, is specifically aimed at creating pathways to success for men and boys of color. The initiative will focus on using results and evidence to evaluate what works—and stop what doesn’t—to improve opportunities for at-risk youths, all within existing federal resources.

The two-day conference—“Engaging Families and Expanding Opportunities: Partnership. Leadership. Inclusion.” will highlight the need for partnerships between families and educators to ensure that all children have equitable opportunities and reach their full potential.