Odds and ends.
* The President recently announced his intent to nominate Deborah Delisle as Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education.
* When the White House celebrated the latest class of National Board Certified teachers, several of the honorees traveled from some of America's most remote and distant rural communities. Department staff caught up with these teachers to hear their stories. The teachers describe challenges with funding, a lack of technology, and the need to elevate the teaching profession, while expanding curriculum to prepare students for today's economy.
* Today, the Department will welcome more than 200 teachers for a screening of the documentary "American Teacher," which chronicles the stories of four teachers working in different areas of the country. It follows the teachers as they reach different milestones in their careers and provides a compelling portrait of the teaching profession in America today. Following the screening, participants will engage in a discussion regarding how to reshape the culture of American education to better attract, retain, and support highly effective teachers, and teachers all across the country are welcome to join the discussion by logging onto Twitter and using the hashtag #TeachTalk starting at 7:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
* The Promise Neighborhoods Program released a list of applicants that scored 80 points or higher in its 2011 competition, spotlighting high potential applicants who, due to limited funding, did not receive grants.
* The next in a series of blog posts on the Green Ribbon Schools' pilot year is an open letter to potential applicants, thanking them for their enthusiasm and encouraging them to apply and take advantage of the resources available on the program web site.
* On January 25, at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and celebrity cook Rachel Ray introduced final guidelines improving nutrition standards for school lunches. The guidelines substantially increase the amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on the menu, while reducing saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. They also set calorie limits based on the age of children being served.
* The Department is collecting information and gathering suggestions to assist states, districts, and organizations in preventing, detecting, and responding to irregularities in academic testing.
* The new year marked the start of new five-year contracts for the Regional Educational Laboratories.
* In its latest Challenge to Innovate (C2i) initiative, the NEA Foundation has partnered with Microsoft-U.S. Partners in Learning to urge public school educators to explore, share, and discuss their responses to this question: how can interactive technology and game-based learning help students learn? Proposed solutions for the challenge will be accepted through March 5. The 10 best ideas, as judged by the community on the Department's Open Innovation Portal, will receive $1,000 cash awards and recognition as their solutions are shared with educators nationwide.