Education Statistical Resources from the Federal Government

August 19, 2014

With the start of a new school year just around the corner, Government Book Talk takes a look at two recently released publications from the Department of Education that examine the latest trends and developments in American education.

The Condition of Education 2013 and the Digest of Education Statistics 2012,which are currently available from the GPO Bookstore, provide important statistical data on the progress of education in the United States.

065-000-01438-6_2The Condition of Education 2013 focuses on 42 indicators in the subject areas of population characteristics, participation in education, elementary and secondary education, and postsecondary education. Each indicator covers important developments and key indicators such as economic outcomes, preprimary education, school characteristics and climate, and finance and resources.

The report also features easy-to-read charts and graphs to illustrate the current trends within each indicator. For example, the chart below from the book illustrates trends in employment rates by age group and education attainment for 2012. According to the chart, in 2012, the employment rate for young adults was 87 percent for those with at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 75 percent for those whose educational attainment was some college, 64 percent for high school graduates, and 48 percent for those who did not complete high school. Further analysis of the chart points out that older students that did not complete school—those aged 25-34 and 25-64 did slightly better in comparison to their younger counterparts, however, were still employed at a significantly lower rate than those with additional education. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

conditions employment chart 2012In addition to trends in employment rates by educational attainment, this year’s report focuses on kindergarten entry status, the status of rural education, and financing postsecondary education in the United States.

065-000-01439-4The Digest of Education Statistics 2012 provides a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education from pre-kindergarten through graduate school. Like the Condition of Education, the data in this annual report was drawn from government and private sources, but especially from surveys and other activities led by NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) part of the Institute for Education Sciences (IES). The digest contains information on the number of schools, students, and teachers, as well as statistics on educational attainment, finances, libraries, technology, and international comparisons. Details on population trends, education attitudes, labor force characteristics, and federal aid supplies helpful background for evaluating the education data.

In addition to updating many of the statistics that have appeared in previous years, this edition contains new material, including:

  • Percentage distribution of 6- to 18-year olds, by parent’s highest level of educational attainment, household type (either two-parent or single-parent), and child’s race/ethnicity (table 12)
  • Enrollment and percentage distribution of enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by race/ethnicity and region (table 44)
  • Number and percentage of public school students participating in programs for English language learners, by state (table 47)
  • Children 3 to 21 years old served under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part B, by age group and race/ethnicity (table 49)
  • Percentage of 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children enrolled in preprimary programs, by attendance status, level of program, and selected child and family characteristics (table 57)
  • Number and enrollment of public elementary and secondary schools that have closed, by school level and type (table 109)
  • Number and percentage distribution of public school students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, by school level, locale, and student race/ethnicity (table 112)

This statistical reference could be helpful to parents choosing schools for their children as well as for teachers, librarians, and public administrators as it tracks enrollment, population trends and key areas of studies with student progress.

How can I get these publications on education statistics?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these and other publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for these in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.

About the author: Trudy Hawkins is a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).


“Now You’re Speaking My Language”: Teaching English as a Second Language in the U.S. and Abroad

January 31, 2014

Teaching-American-English-wordleThe English language, according to Wikipedia, is the third-most-common native language in the world after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish and is the most widely learned second language. Not only is it widely used in technology and entertainment, it is also an official language of the European Union, many British Commonwealth countries and the United Nations, as well as in many international organizations.

The U.S. Department of State recognizes that promoting the learning and teaching of English as a foreign or second language both within the United States and around the world is an essential step towards increasing cultural understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries.  The Department of State created the Office of English Language Programs, under the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, to encourage English language education for non-native English speakers.

As a former Business English professor for Spanish Masters of Marketing graduate students in Spain and a volunteer tutor for young Hispanic ESL (English as a Second Language) students in the United States, I had a hard time finding resources for my students or connecting with other teachers with whom I could exchange best practices and ideas for lesson plans that took into account the cultural differences of non-native speakers,” says Michele Bartram, Government Book Talk Editor and Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore.

English Teaching Forum, the quarterly journal for professionals teaching ESL or EFL English as a Foreign or Second Language, published by the U.S. State Department's Office of English Language ProgramsFortunately, the State Department’s Office of English Language Programs publishes the English Teaching Forum, a quarterly journal that serves as a resource for professionals teaching English as a foreign or second language all over the globe. This publication connects teachers of English as a second language across the many countries in which they are teaching by allowing them to submit articles and share their experiences working towards their common goal of helping others learn the English language worldwide. In fact, the majority of articles featured in the English Teaching Forum are authored by English language classroom teachers. Each new issue of the journal has a distribution of over 85,000 copies across more than 130 countries!

Teachers of English as a second language will find a number of useful articles in the pages of the English Teaching Forum. Topics covered in this quarterly publication include classroom language learning activities, teaching methods and tools, informational articles on potential teaching topics related to American culture, and understanding the needs of the diverse group of students that these teachers encounter.

In the most recent issue of the English Teaching Forum (Volume 51, Number 4, 2013), “Raising Cultural Awareness in the English Language Classroom” tackles the question of how to introduce American sociocultural elements into the language curriculum to enhance the students’ ability to grasp the cultural nuances of the language. It has been said that students cannot master a foreign language without understanding the cultural context in which the language is spoken, and in this article, author Jerrold Frank explores this theory and suggests methods of introducing cultural lessons to language students.

Another particularly interesting feature from English Teaching Forum can be found in Volume 50, Number 1, 2012, in the article “A Call to Service”  by William P. Ancker, which introduces an interview with Dr. James Alatis, a leader in the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) community. The interview with Dr. Alatis, originally conducted in 2004 but reprinted in this issue in honor of the English Teaching Forum’s 50th anniversary, follows this introduction.

The journal even includes classroom exercises and printables, such as this fun quiz displaying the confusion caused by English-language homophones–words that are spelled differently but are pronounced similarly (like there and their).

ETF_Lighter-Side_Homophones-QuizImage: Speak and Spell Quiz from English Teaching Forum 2012, Volume 50, Number 3. See answers at bottom of the post.

If you are a teacher or a student of English as a foreign or second language, or even if you just find language and learning to be topics of interest to you, US-State-Department-American-English-Mobile-Appthe English Teaching Forum is a worthwhile publication to explore!

For more resources for teachers of American English, visit the State Department’s American English website, including downloading their new American English Mobile App for both teachers and students.

How do I subscribe to English Teaching Forum: A Journal for the Teacher of English Outside the United States?

About the Authors: Stephanie Jaeger is Sales & Marketing Coordinator for GPO’s Sales & Marketing Division that markets GPO’s publishing services to the Federal sector. Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.

Answers to The Lighter Side “Speak and Spell” homophones quiz from above:

Answers-to-Homophones-Quiz 


Go Native and Get Healthy: Fight diabetes with a healthy Native American diet

November 21, 2013

It’s Native American Heritage Month! Let’s celebrate! Let’s have some pumpkin seeds and some corn silk tea!

American Indian girl with Navajo fry breadThis month is a month to honor Indian heritage, and many powwows* and festivals are being held to honor Indian culture, so you definitely want to do something festive. There are few Indian celebrations that do not include luscious frybread, with its accompaniment of Indian taco meat, honey or colored syrup. (Frybread or fry bread, a notable Native American food, is the official “state bread” of South Dakota!)

Image: Native American girl holding a plate of Navajo frybread. Photo credit: AP

The temptations of frybread aside, a better way to for you to celebrate would be with a healthy food, like an apple or a carrot stick. Maybe you’d even be interested in going hardcore by adopting a native foodways diet, like the foods eaten in the Decolonizing Diet Project.

Appropriately, November is also Diabetes Awareness Month, which ties in with Native American Heritage Month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has linked the two and created the Native Diabetes Wellness Program, since “American Indian and Alaska Native adults are twice as likely to have diagnosed type 2 diabetes than non-Hispanic whites” (Diabetes Among American Indians and Alaska Natives, CDC). It’s more important to stop this high incidence of type 2 diabetes and obesity among Native peoples, starting with the patients themselves—especially since 27.4% of Indians lack health care coverage, according to the 2012 American Community Survey from the Census Bureau. One way to do that is to encourage eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

Living a Balanced Life With Diabetes: A Toolkit Addressing Psychosocial Issues for American Indian and Alaska Native Populations (Kit) ISBN: 9780160913662A number of Indian health professionals, writers and activists have written and promoted healthy habits for Indians. For adult American Indians and Alaska Natives, the Indian Health Service has developed the multimedia kit Living a Balanced Life With Diabetes: A Toolkit Addressing Psychosocial Issues for American Indian and Alaska Native Populations.

Of course, the earlier you start to create change within a population, the better chance you have of changing a trend in that society. Nambé Pueblo health education specialist Georgia Perez wrote the first four books of the “Eagle Books” series for children with this intention. The series includes the titles 1) Through the Eyes of the Eagle, 2) Knees Lifted High, 3) Plate Full of Color, 4) Tricky Treats. and 5) the middle school book, Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream.

CDC-Eagle-Book-Series for children using American Indian stories to teach healthy eating and preventing diabetesThe first four titles are folio-sized (large format) full-color picture books for story time reading, with a target audience of Indian children in second and third grade. Lisa A. Fifield, a member of the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin (Black Bear Clan), and Patrick Rolo, a member of Bad River Band of Ojibwe, painted the lush watercolors that illustrate the first four books in the series. Perez and Lofton wrote the books from an Indian perspective with Indian characters, and Indians created the entire enterprise. With more than two million copies distributed to libraries, schools, Indian cultural centers, and more, according to the CDC, the program is a real success (The Story of Eagle Books, CDC).

All of the books are rooted in Indian cultural traditions, and advocate eating a healthy diet and exercising to avoid diabetes and maintain a healthy body. The CDC planned to continue the Eagle Books series with chapter books for middle school children, but unfortunately the agency was unable to continue the series after they published the first book, Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream, by Terry Lofton. The five volumes that CDC has published forward the message of harmony of the individual with nature, culture, and health. Ms. Perez makes particular points against type 2 diabetes.eagle-books-rain-that-dances-mr-eagle

The character of the Eagle talks with the Indian boy Thunder Cloud,

[Mr. Eagle] “Yesterday, I told Rain That Dances that many of your people are getting very sick from a disease called diabetes. Even some young people have diabetes now.”

[Thunder Cloud] “What is diabetes?”

[Mr. Eagle] “Diabetes is when your body does not use the food you eat the right way. So there is too much sugar, or glucose, in the blood. It can make people sick if it is not in balance. Just as your tummy is in balance when you eat the right amount of food — not too much, not too little, but just right — your body needs to have just the right balance of sugar in your blood. But someone who has diabetes can learn to take care of it and stay healthy. And you can do things to keep from getting this disease. One very good way is to do something every day to get your body moving” (Knees Lifted High, p. 2).

Balance is a key value among the cherished values of most Indian nations, and using this kind of language speaks to everyone, and most particularly to Indian children.

Although the author and illustrators dedicated the books to the idea of promoting Native American cultures and health, the messages provided in them can speak to any child. Eagle and Rabbit refer to “sometimes foods”, a phrase that will be familiar to any Cookie Monster fan that has been to Sesame Street. The art is so inviting that it will draw readers in to learn more and care about the characters, who are earnestly trying to improve their lives. You root for them to win. After reading these books, I was ready to trade in my frybread for a solid diet of cattail bread, wild rice salad and three sisters.

*For those unfamiliar with Indian culture, a powwow is a social gathering of Native Americans featuring dancing, drum music, singing, arts and crafts demonstrations and sales, and traditional tribal foods—and often, frybread and Indian tacos as well. Attendees include Indians and non-natives; the gatherings also provide an opportunity for elders to teach youth native tribal dances and other traditional practices.

How can I obtain these Native American and healthy eating publications?

1)    FOR THE PUBLIC

2)    FOR LIBRARIANS

Librarians can find the records for Tricky Treats, Knees Lifted High, Plate Full of Color, Through the Eyes of the Eagle and Coyote and the Turtle’s Dream in GPO’s Catalog of Government Publications or CGP.

About the author(s): Adapted from an original blog post by Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP).


Parent Power: The Power to Make a Difference

July 25, 2013

In honor of National Parents’ Day, celebrated the fourth Sunday of July, Government Book Talk reviews this exemplary parenting guide from the Department of Education, Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success.

parentpower The opening of the Department of Education’s Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success is a quote from President Obama made in July 2009:

“To parents, we can’t tell our kids to do well in school and then fail to support them when they get home. You can’t just contract out parenting. For our kids to excel, we have to accept our responsibility to help them learn.”

PoderdelosPadresThe book’s introduction sets the reader up to learn the most important tip given in Parent Power and its Spanish version, Poder De Los Padres Para Trazar el Camino Hacia el Exito, This tip is simple to state, but hard work to follow: be responsible. Your responsibility for your child’s education begins with modeling at home. If your kids see you reading, they will want to read. If you drag your kid to every Civil War battle site because you are a Civil War buff, your child may ace his or her American history exams. When you volunteer at your child’s school, your kids are going to see how important their education is to you.

Other tips covered in the book include: be committed, be positive, be patient, be attentive, be precise, be diligent, be results-oriented, be innovative. These tips are good calls to action for parents. Parents are already tired from their jobs, long commuting hours, keeping their living spaces clean and finding a way to feed the family. Just managing the basic tasks of daily survival can take up all their time. When your child throws a temper tantrum because you’ve sent her to her room to do her homework rather than watch her favorite TV show, it’s tough to practice that “be patient” tip. Good parenting demands more effort than managing basic survival.

Likewise, it takes a great deal of work to follow the other tips, such as remembering to be innovative and to provide positive feedback. It’s more constructive for parents to be precise when praising their children. Instead of telling your child she is smart for completing a drawing, you should tell the child how much you appreciate her making the effort to color the Canadian flag with the right colors in the right places. Parents will evaluate many of their children’s performances, and it will take quite a bit of creativity to say “good job!” in a different way every time. The last tip given in all bold case letters, BE THERE, is a restatement of the popular saying, the best present parents can give their kids is their presence.

The book does give specific suggestions, listed by school age group: birth through preschool, elementary, middle and high school.

Parent Power_Page12Image:Parent Power, Page 12, recommends activities for Pre-Schoolers and Kindergarteners.

The authors recommend a large number of parent-child and pro-school activities. Some examples are reading aloud to your child each day starting at birth, taking your child to the library, playing games with your child, contacting his or her teachers, visiting his or her school. Many parental advice volumes contain advice that may not be revolutionary, but may break parents out of a rut that they had not previously considered. There is also a list of electronic resources to help parents research further. Hints and tips are a parent’s best friend when guiding a child through the various developmental stages.

If you’re doing the fun but difficult work of raising a child, help yourself to Parent Power: Build the Bridge to Success and/or Poder de los Padres: Para Trazar el Camino Hacia el Éxito. Get the hints and tips you need to encourage you. Children do not simply inherit their characters from their parents like magic. Parents are the driving force in their children’s lives, both by example and character—and that’s the power of parents. 

How can I find parenting publications from the Federal Government?

Federal Depository Librarians: How can I access these publications?

About the author(s): Our guest blogger is Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). Editor: Government Book Talk Editor-in-Chief and , GPO Promotions & Ecommerce Manager, Michele Bartram.


Economic Security: Neglected Dimension of National Security?

January 31, 2013

Guest blogger GPO Public Relations Specialist Emma Wojtowicz reviews this new publication asking whether our economic security is a neglected dimension of U.S. national security policy, a timely topic considering the recent national economic recession and yesterday’s news of the GDP drop.

The public generally agrees that the United States’ economic security is a vital component to the country’s overall national security. This is especially true in light of yesterday’s announcement that the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP)—the  measure of all goods and services produced by the economy—shrank an unexpected 0.1% annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2012, the first quarterly contraction since the second quarter of 2009 during the recession.

But what exactly does economic security mean in this context? This topic is explored in Economic Security: Neglected Dimension of National Security?, a publication by the Institute for National Strategic Studies of the National Defense University.

Economic Security: Neglected Dimension of National Security? ISBN 9780160898082The book’s editor, Sheila R. Ronis, argues that the economy has often been ignored and misunderstood in relation to national security and that economic strength is the foundation of national security. To make this argument, papers from a conference in 2010 that had the same title as the book comprise the publication and focus on the different factors that contribute to economic security.

Foundation: The first chapter explains how the economy works and provides the reader with a foundation for understanding economic components like budgets, debt, deficits, lenders, interest rates, GDP and so on. This is the best chapter of the book because it gives the reader perspective when considering the country’s economic security.

History:  Taking up 50 pages of this 110 page publication, the second chapter focuses on how the U.S. emerged after World War II as an economic and military superpower and how the boom in industrialization and commerce in the previous decades lead to America’s position after World War II. This approach to understanding the United States’ current economy is fascinating but the use of minute historical details to make the point is perhaps too in-depth for the casual reader, but will be of great interest to scholars, specialists and journalists.

Energy: The third and fourth chapters tackle the topic of energy security and how that relates to the country’s economic and national security. If you are not an energy aficionado, then the content may be over your head, but there are some fundamental facts that anyone can absorb. The U.S. spends $500 billion annually on energy and is the world’s largest energy consumer second to China. The United States’ energy consumption grows every year along with its energy imports.  These chapters strategize how to reform energy policy, thus strengthening the country’s economic and national security.

 Energy Security intersection of National Security, Economic Security and Environmental Security

Image: Energy security is a common topic in relation to economic and national security. Another professor, Massoud Amin at the University of Minnesota, describes energy security as the overlap between economic security, national security, and environmental security.  Source:  DialogueEarth.org

Education: Chapter five explores education in the U.S. and the skill set needed for the workforce of today and the future.  Science and technology are necessary skills for the country’s current workforce in order for the U.S. to play a role in the global economy. Those skills are also important for engaging the next generation of students who were born into an already technologically advanced society, well-versed in using computers, the Internet and mobile devices. This chapter takes a comprehensive approach to the topic of education and the long-term effect it will have on the country’s economic security.

Innovation: The author of the sixth and final chapter takes on the subject of innovation and its contribution to United States’ economic prosperity more so than its economic security. Building upon the previous chapter of education, innovation is the next step to strengthening the economy by creating jobs through new industries and products. The best take-away from this chapter is that while innovation is important and vital to the economy, it alone cannot ensure economic security.

President Obama’s Strategy for American Innovation Image: This image represents the President’s “Strategy for American Innovation” which, according to the White House, “seeks to harness the ingenuity of the American people to ensure economic growth that is rapid, broad-based, and sustained. This economic growth will bring greater income, higher quality jobs, and improved quality of life to all Americans.” Source: White House.

Economic Security: Neglected Dimension of National Security? does a good job of breaking down the issue of economic security making the reader more thoughtful and aware of this important, relevant topic.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THIS BOOK: “Economic Security: Neglected Dimension of National Security?

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library.

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