« Remembering Kennedy as a Champion of Education | Main | Who's Taking Over the Senate Education Committee? »

Arne Duncan's $3.5 Billion Lever for Turning Around Failing Schools

| 1 Comment

Education Secretary Arne Duncan today spelled out how he wants states to spend $3.5 billion in Title I school improvement money over the next three years.

This grant funding ($3 billion from the economic-stimulus package and $546 million from fiscal 2009 appropriations) will flow to states based on the Title I formula for aid to disadvantaged students, but states will have discretion in how they award the money. The U.S. Department of Education, in its regulations, however, prescribes how the money would be awarded. States would award grants to districts that agree to adopt one of these four models (with some exceptions):

*Turnaround Model: This would include among other actions, replacing the principal and at least 50 percent of a school's staff, adopting a new governance structure and implementing a new or revised instructional program.

*Restart Model: School districts would close failing schools and reopen them under the management of a charter school operator, a charter management organization, or an educational management organization selected through a rigorous review process. A restart school would be required to admit, within the grades it serves, any former student who wishes to attend.

*School Closure: The district would close a failing school and enroll the students who attended that school in high-achieving schools in the district.

*Transformational Model: Districts would address four specific areas: 1) developing teacher and school leader effectiveness, which includes replacing the principal who led the school prior to commencement of the transformational model, 2) implementing comprehensive instructional reform strategies, 3) extending learning and teacher planning time and creating community-oriented schools, and 4) providing operating flexibility and sustained support.

In a nod to how important Duncan thinks school leadership is, all of these would put the school principal on the chopping block.

It's also worth noting school districts have a big incentive to adopt the "turnaround" or "restart" model. If they choose one of those two models, the regulations would allow states to seek a waiver to allow those districts to restart the NCLB school improvement clock and no longer be required to provide public school choice or supplemental education services.

This money could be a significant lever for school improvement, especially since Duncan has made turning around the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools a priority.

It's important to put this dollar amount in perspective. It is almost as big as the $4 billion Race to the Top Fund, and it's far bigger than the new i3 Investing in Innovation Fund. Also, the fiscal 2009 appropriation for school improvement grants is just $546 million.

What do you think of these proposed regulations?

1 Comment

Thank you. I was reading with an open mind until I got to your words "If they choose one of those two models, the regulations would allow states to seek a waiver to allow those districts to restart the NCLB school improvement clock and no longer be required to provide public school choice or supplemental education services.

This money could be a significant lever ..."

I'm dismayed that Duncan seems to be listening so much to the prideful "reformers" who seek to maximize their leverage so much.

What if these newcomers, who know so little about the realities or urban schools they seek to change, are not omniscient? If you want to go forth on a level playing field with all four approaches, then I'm open to that. But what if real life educators with practical expereince are not simply self-serving incompetents? What if we know something that the "reformers" don't understand? And again, why has Duncan turned so aggressively against social science?

Comments are now closed for this post.

Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments