Month: April 2016

XQ America

Laurene Powell Jobs’s XQ America project enters a new phase this Friday

An untold number of schools will be receiving some happy news this coming Friday.

According to an on-stage appearance today at the Female Founders Conference in San Francisco, philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs revealed that a six-month-old national education challenge she’s backing called XQ: The Super School Project, is announcing which U.S. schools advance to the next phase. The competition will ultimately see at least five institutions receive a collective $50 million to try what will be for them entirely new educational approaches.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 6.47.06 PMPowell Jobs spoke about XQ on stage earlier tonight with Russlynn Ali, who worked in the Obama administration’s Education Department as the assistant secretary for civil rights. Ali now heads up XQ and she told attendees that the challenge has clearly struck a chord. In fact, its administrators have now heard from more than 40,000 individuals, including educators and parents, since Powell first made public the project. Ali also said the program has received nearly 700 applications from 49 states. (This includes 10,000 applicants and school designers, meaning individuals who both submitted full applications and those who participated in the design process.)

One of those applicants is Sullivan High School in Chicago, which, like other schools, was asked to come up with a new vision for itself that’s specific to its student population. According to a Chicago Sun-Times story, Sullivan features students from 35 countries, who speak 20 languages, and its principal, parents, and community members have proposed a curriculum that would provide incoming freshmen with time to focus on themselves. It would then ask sophomores to contribute their ideas and time to performing community service and problem solving — ideas the students would be asked to apply to a national level their junior year and a global level during their senior year of high school.

Whether or not Sullivan is ultimately chosen to receive funding and assistance from XQ, both Ali and Powell Jobs emphasized tonight that its ambitions to help schools rethink education is more important than ever, largely given how quickly the nature of work is changing.

Recounting an earlier conversation she’d had with Powell Jobs, Ali told the audience that “schools have been a black box” for too long. The pair also noted that in the last 100 years, the Model T has given way to Teslas, and switchboards have given way to incredible smart phones. Meanwhile, the model for U.S. high schools has remained virtually unchanged.

The pair also noted that while each of the winning schools will likely be addressing issues differently, the schools’ different models, including their learnings, successes and failures will be shared across the entire network. (Powell Jobs added that she expects “many commonalities” among them as well, including “highly relevant, interest-based, experiential learning” that’s “integrated with businesses in the community so that internships are accessible  to every single student.”)

If XQ is at all successful in jump-starting a bigger movement, Americans will hopefully “no longer see time as the proxy for learning but instead the actual mastery of content,” suggested Ali. If not, she seemed to warn, the U.S. could be saddled with both an achievement and opportunity gap that only grows wider from here.

You can learn much more about Project XQ


STEM Jobs: What are they?

A Deep Dive into the New STEM OPT Extension Rule: What Employers, Big and Small, Need to Know

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On March 11, 2016 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued its final rule for international students with U.S. degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) seeking extension of Optional Practical Training (OPT) (the “Final Rule”) employment authorization. The Final Rule creates a new 24-month STEM OPT extension period along with additional government oversight and substantial new requirements for students, their universities, and their potential STEM employers. International (F-1) students graduating with STEM degrees may now be issued work authorization for up to 36 months if they will work for E-Verify subscribed employers.

The new rule takes effect on May 10, 2016. Additional guidance can be found at the DHS website Study in the States. Specifically, on the STEM OPT Hub there are sections geared for students, schools and employers.

Companies hiring and employing STEM OPT graduates should be aware that the Final Rule will impose new employer requirements and compliance obligations. Consistent with the 2008 Final Rule, employers will still need to be enrolled in E-Verify and remain in good standing with the program. In addition, the Final Rule will require employers to:

  • Implement a formal training program to augment the student’s academic learning through practical experience;

  • Provide an OPT training opportunity that is commensurate with those of similarly situated U.S. workers in duties, hours and compensation;

  • Complete the Form I-983, Training Plan for STEM OPT Students. In this form, you must attest that:

    • The employer has enough resources and trained personnel available to appropriately train the student;

    • The student will not replace a full- or part-time, temporary or permanent U.S. worker; and

    • The training program will assist the student attain his or her training objectives. In this regard, the employer must review and sign a student-completed annual self-evaluation on their training progress; and

  • Report material changes to the STEM OPT student’s employment to the student’s Designated Student Officer (DSO) within 5 business days.

The Final Rule defines “similarly situated U.S. workers” to include U.S. workers performing similar duties and with similar educational backgrounds, employment experience, levels of responsibility and skill sets as the STEM OPT student. The Rule further states, if the employer does not employ and has not recently employed more than two similarly situated U.S. workers, the employer must instead ensure that the terms and conditions of the STEM OPT opportunity they offer is commensurate with those similarly situated U.S. workers employed by other companies of analogous size and industry and in the same area of employment.

Moreover, the Final Rule provides U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with site visit authority. ICE may visit employer worksite(s) to verify whether they are meeting the STEM OPT program requirements, including whether they are maintaining the ability and resources to provide a structured and guided work-based training experience for the STEM OPT student. ICE  will provide notice to the employer at least 48 hours in advance of any site visit, unless the visit is triggered by a complaint or other evidence of noncompliance with the STEM OPT extension regulations. In such cases, ICE may conduct a site visit without notice.

In completing the Form I-983, Training Plan, employers will have to furnish DHS with very specific detailed information, including the employer name, address, website url, number of FTEs in the U.S., NAICS code, as well as the name, title and contact information of the individual (“official”) providing the training.  In addition, employers will have to provide the following details regarding the training program:  OPT training hours, start date of employment/training, compensation (salary, stipend, stock options, housing benefits, tuition cost waivers or other), a description of the training tasks and assignment as well as an explanation of how the training relates to the student’s STEM degree and a description of the training plan goals and objectives, employer oversight and measurement/assessments of the trainee. The completed Form I-983 will accompany the F-1 student’s application for extension of their STEM OPT work authorization document (EAD).

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Gregory Wald, Immigration Attorney, Squire Patton Boggs Law Firm

Gregory Wald’s experience includes representing multinational and Fortune 500 companies and individual clients in all aspects of immigration law including nonimmigrant visas, and immigrant matters regarding multinational executives and managers, individuals of extraordinary ability and professionals.

He has appeared before the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), US Department of Labor, US Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review and various federal courts.