September 2009 Archives

Bennet to Senate Education Committee

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, a former Denver schools chief, has taken the slot on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee made vacant by the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennnedy, D-Mass. Bennet's move has got to be good news for Democrats who support policies such as alternative pay and charter schools (including these folks). They have high hopes that Bennet, with his real-world, on-the-ground experience, could help fill the void on education issues in the Senate created by Kennedy's passing. Bennet, who seems particularly interested in teacher quality, is said to be one of the Obama administration's Senate ...


Race to the Top Grants: Not Just a K-12 Thing?

States are still waiting for the final rules for the $4 billion Race to the Top grant program, which is meant to reward states for helping to close the achievement gap. In the meantime, the U.S. House of Representatives has taken the concept (big, highly coveted pot of competitive money that the feds can use to prod states to adopt certain policies) and gone all P-16 with it. Using some of the $87 billion in projected savings that would be freed up by a major overhaul to the student loan program, the House is looking to create three new ...


Submit Questions Now for Common Standards Chat

Join us for an online chat today at 2 p.m. about the common standards movement, now being undertaken by 48 states.


More Bad Fiscal News for States

For the first time ever, gambling revenue is down in states by 2.8 percent. And that has implications for K-12.


Department Kicks Off NCLB Discussion at Packed Forum

More than 200 advocates from a wide range of groups packed the U.S. Department of Education today to hear Secretary of Education Arne Duncan outline his priorities for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act -- better known over the last eight years as the No Child Left Behind Act. Duncan didn't say anything he hasn't said before, but he used the high-profile forum to stress some priorities, including extended learning time, using data to track student and teacher effectiveness, and systems to better measure individual student progress. (That's code for growth models, which are expected to ...


Duncan to Get Advice on ESEA Renewal

It sounds as if the Department of Education is ready to get rolling on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. On Thursday, Secretary Arne Duncan will do the "inside the Beltway" version of his listening and learning tour.


Ed. Dept.: 4 States Are Ripe for Stimulus Slip-Ups

Those identified as "high risk" for possible stimulus spending problems are California, Illinois, Michigan, and Texas. D.C. and Puerto Rico also made the list.


UPDATED: Gates Spreading 'Race to the Top' Help to All States

After getting feedback from NGA and CCSSO, the Gates Foundation changes course.


What Happened to that Facilities Money in the Stimulus?

Remember the compromise Congress came up with on school facilities in order to pass the economic-stimulus package? Proponents decided to ditch the billions in school construction grants to win support from moderate lawmakers for the overall stimulus. Instead, school districts were allowed to use a portion of their State Fiscal Stabilization Fund money (whatever was leftover after backfilling cuts) for school modernization, along with a whole bunch of other options. Have any of them actually been able to take advantage of that? As we've written before, most of the $39 billion in state stabilization funding went to make up for ...


UPDATED: STEM Guru Steve Robinson Moves to White House

The former high school science teacher will have the same gig, just a different office--in the White House's Domestic Policy Council.


Some Education Groups Less Happy With New Health Care Bill

The National Education Association, which is pouring money and manpower into the effort led by Democrats to overhaul the health care system, is less than thrilled with the new bill released earlier this week by the Senate Finance Committee. The nation's largest union put out a statement today saying that the proposal "does not meet the guidelines set by President Obama in his speech to Congress last week. The bill fails to provide affordable coverage for the 46 million uninsured through a public option, and will raise costs even more for middle-income workers." In addition to the affordability issue, NEA ...


House Passes Student Loan Bill: All Eyes On Senate Now

The interesting part for K-12 is the funding set aside for school facilities, or about $4 billion over two years.


Duncan Holds a (Somewhat) National Town Hall on NCLB

So, remember that listening-and-learning tour that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan embarked on to get a sense of what Americans think of the No Child Left Behind Act? Well, he took the tour to the airwaves (sort of) earlier this week, holding a national town hall meeting that was televised in many places. Check it out online here. There wasn't much said at Tuesday's event that was new to me. The criticisms he heard of NCLB were important, but relatively predictable (too much testing, too much focus on the core subjects at the expense of physical education, art, ...


S.C. Ed. Chief Jim Rex Running for Governor

He's running in 2010 to be a "turnaround governor," an obvious slam on the term-limited and controversial Republican Gov. Mark Sanford.


House to Vote on Bombshell Higher Ed Bill

The House of Representatives is set to consider this legislation as early as tomorrow that would significantly expand the federal direct lending program, in which students borrow right from the U.S. Treasury. And it would effectively end the Federal Family Education Loan Program, which uses subsidized lenders. That's the controversial part of the legislation, but it's not the part that's most interesting for K-12 education. The bill also includes major new investments in community colleges, which could be used for dual enrollment programs, a brand-new prekindergarten grant program, plus funding for school facilities. It would pay for those new ...


Andy 'Eduwonk' Rotherham To Leave EdSector

Though the Eduwonk blog will live on, Rotherham will leave in the spring the think tank he co-founded.


Friday Reading List: Mayoral Control, Remediation, and Must See TV

Is Arne Duncan softening his stance on mayoral control? This and more good reads...


Community Schools: A Bill to Watch

Schools and community organizations that want to use K-12 facilities for mentoring, academic enrichment, and health services could get an assist from the federal government under a bill introduced yesterday by Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the House Majority Leader, and Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, a moderate Democrat who is often a key swing vote. The bill would be aimed at expanding the reach of "full-service community schools." It would help schools, community organizations, and private-public partnerships offer a whole range of programs, including remedial education and academic enrichment, family literacy, mental health, adult education, nutrition services, and early childhood ...


Sen. Tom Harkin to Chair the Education Committee

Observers say he may push back on some of the Obama administration's K-12 priorities.


Sen. Dodd Likely to Decline Education Panel Chairmanship

This means that the Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, the second ranking Democrat on the committee, has a chance to step in.


Kids Have Choice Words for Obama-Speech Controversy

Wakefield High School students call the speech flap "pointless" and "kind of dumb."


Duncan Hangs Tough on Obama's Speech

Ed. Sec. Duncan says that the education debate too often today focuses "on adult issues and adult drama.”


UPDATED: How Will Critics Respond After Obama Gives His Back-to-School Speech?

The president's noon speech is unquestionably a feel-good pep talk about personal responsibility.


Quick: Name the 4 States That Haven't Spent an Ed Stimulus Dime

The stimulus slowpokes are Alaska, Louisiana, New Hampshire, and New Mexico.


UPDATED: Flap Continues: Rep. John Kline Asks Obama to Release His Remarks

Rep. John Kline, the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, sent a letter to the White House asking President Barack Obama to publicly release the text of his back-to-school address to kids, to be delivered next week. (According to this Washington Post story, Obama already had planned to do just that). UPDATE: And indeed, the White House said today that the text of the speech will be available on Monday at whitehouse.gov. As you may know, some Texas districts have expressed qualms about letting kids listen, because of language in one of the lesson plans accompanying ...


UPDATE: The Obama Administration's Back-to-School Message: Personal Responsibility

Obama's Sept. 8 speech will echo many themes from his campaign, and kick off a $1,000 contest for students.


Innovation Grants—Grab 'em While You Can

By guest blogger Erik Robelen: As school districts, charter operators, and other nonprofits anxiously await further details from the Education Department on the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund, Congress appears disinclined to pony up much, if any, extra money down the road to keep the program going. President Obama had asked for an additional $100 million in fiscal 2010 to extend the program, first created under the federal economic-stimulus law earlier this year. The House responded by offering up all of $3 million in the budget bill for the Education Department it passed in late July. And that was ...


Gov. Moonbeam Assails Proposed Race to the Top Rules

Jerry Brown tells Arne Duncan that draft rules display "pervasive technocratic bias and an uncritical faith in the power of social science."


Friday Reading List: Better on Tuesday

I'm sure your Friday was spent sifting through the hundreds of comments submitted for the Race to the Top program. Now that you've digested those, check out these good reads: *Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican from Minnesota who knows his stuff when it comes to education, is being talked up as a 2012 presidential candidate. (Nope, it's not too early to be talking about that.) *The recession is forcing some teacher furloughs, despite the $100 billion in stimulus aid for schools. *Politico has more whether Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., will decide to step into the chairmanship of the Senate ...


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