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School Safety, Jobs for Returning Veterans Top Mayors’ Education, Workforce Agenda

Kathy Wiggins
January 28, 2013

“We need a lot less children shot dead—a lot less children living in fear—and I’d like to publicly thank the President and Vice President for their leadership in developing a series of sweeping reforms to curb gun violence across the nation,” Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the mayors in his opening comments at the Jobs, Education and the Workforce Standing Committee meeting, chaired by Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis.

The reforms are the result of the effort led by Vice President Biden and members of the Cabinet, including Duncan, to come up with concrete steps that can be taken to keep children safe, help prevent mass shootings, and reduce the country’s broader epidemic of gun violence. Regarding school safety, “The actions the President is taking and proposing to reduce gun violence echo what educators say they need to better protect and support students in school and in their communities,” Duncan said. “America’s schools are among the safest places in our country. The President’s comprehensive approach will make schools and communities safer.” Indeed, the President has proposed to provide new resources that communities can use to: Hire School Resource Officers (SROs); hire school counselors, psychologists, and social workers to support students struggling with mental health issues and help avert crises before they occur; and purchase school safety equipment, like security cameras and secure locking systems.

The department will also work with states and school districts to ensure that every school has a high-quality emergency plan in place. And, the agency is proposing to help 8,000 schools put proven strategies in place to reduce violence, bullying, drug abuse, and other behavior problems and to gather and share best practices on school discipline. “If we don’t do it now, frankly, as a country, I’m not sure when we’re going to do it,” said Duncan,

Department of Labor (DOL) Assistant Secretary Jane Oates also addressed the mayors, outlining a new DOL initiative for veterans called the Gold Card. The Gold Card, a joint effort of the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), provides unemployed post-9/11 era veterans with the intensive and follow-up services they need to succeed in today’s job market. An eligible veteran can present the Gold Card at his/her local One'stop Career Center to receive enhanced intensive services including up to six months of follow-up. “This will really make the difference in terms of long-term sustainability,” said Oates.

She also discussed the Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program (DVOP), whereby specialists develop job and training opportunities for veterans, with special emphasis on veterans with service-connected disabilities. DVOP specialists provide direct services to veterans enabling them to be competitive in the labor market. They provide outreach and offer assistance to disabled and other veterans by promoting community and employer support for employment and training opportunities, including apprenticeship and on'the-job training.

Finally, Oates highlighted the Department’s Local Veterans’ Employment Representatives (LVERs) initiative—state employees located in state employment service local offices to provide assistance to veterans. Usually, one full-time LVER is allocated to local employment service offices for each 1,100 or more veterans who registered for assistance in the preceding year.