May 2010 Archives

Edujobs Falters, But Is It Dead?

Even though the $23 billion education jobs bill faltered yesterday in Congress, proponents aren't giving up on a measure which public school advocates say is desperately needed to forestall draconian teacher layoffs nationwide.


Data Nerd Alert: New Comparability Stats Coming

In late winter, researchers, wonks, and the general public will get their first look at new finance data collected by the U.S. Department of Education that seeks to account for differences in spending across schools within the same district. This is called comparability (until someone comes up with a catchier name!) and often exposes spending patterns that lead to fewer dollars being spent on low-income students because so much money is tied to teacher salaries—and the less-experienced teachers earning lower salaries tend to teach in schools with a lot of low-income kids. You would think that obtaining school-by-school...


Lawmakers, Edu-Groups Speak Up For Edujobs

The presidents of both national teachers' unions joined key lawmakers and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan this morning on Capitol Hill to drum up support for the $23 billion edujobs legislation. Supporters of the bill say up to 300,000 jobs may be riding on congressional action. Rep. David Obey, D-Wisc., the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said he plans to introduce a version of the measure as an amendment to the must-pass emergency spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that his panel is considering tomorrow. The original plan was for the Senate to ...


Harkin Opts Not to Attach 'Edujobs' to War Supplemental

The wrangling over that $23 billion edujobs bill continues. Originally, the Senate sponsor of the measure, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees education spending, had planned to offer the legislation as an amendment to the war supplemental spending bill that the Senate is expected to consider soon. That strategy made sense because a) the war supplemental is a must-pass bill, and b) it's emergency spending, so the $23 billion wouldn't need to be offset. But Harkin changed his game plan once he realized that he couldn't get the 60 votes needed to pass the provision. ...


Race to Top Uber Analyst Smarick Bolts for NJ

Andy Smarick, the Fordham Fellow who perhaps knows as much about the Race to the Top competition as the folks at the U.S. Department of Education, will have to leave his wonky federal analysis, insights, and general blogginess behind when he takes on a new job as deputy education commissioner in New Jersey. He'll work as the lone deputy under Commissioner Bret Schundler, who was a controversial pick for newly elected Republican Gov. Christopher Christie. Smarick officially starts his new role sometime this summer, probably in early August (although if New Jersey were wise, it would tap his expertise ...


School Improvement Models Face Opposition in Congress

First it was Race to the Top. Now the school improvement models are running into trouble on Capitol Hill. Flanked by major players in both the national teachers' unions, Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, today announced a framework (not a bill) that would basically ditch the idea of having just four options in favor of a broader array of possible remedies for schools. Chu wants to use the reauthorization of ESEA to prod schools to promote flexibility and collaboration (such as beefing up mentoring and induction programs), remove barriers to student success (such...


Will Duncan Regret 'High, High Bar' in Race to Top Round 1?

Minnesota is out of Race to the Top, round two. Massachusetts is publicly thinking (posturing?) about it. With two states that have traditionally been national leaders in student performance waffling, or down right begging off of the competition, you've got to wonder how strong the field of competition will be for those states that remain. To be sure, some very, very bold plans will come in from the likes of Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, and Georgia, which were strong finalists in round one. But this time, because U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan set a "high, high bar" in round ...


NCLB Foe's Trouble Could Impact Senate Race

Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Attorney General who filed the law-suit against the No Child Left Behind Act, is running into problems of his own in his bid to claim the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, a Democrat.


Shireman Leaving U.S. Department of Education

Robert Shireman, the deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education, is moving on. (Hat tip to former Bush adviser John Bailey's twitter feed.) Shireman is the Department's loans guru and an architect of the administration's push to get rid of the Federal Family Education Loan Program, which relies on subsidized lenders, in favor of the Direct Lending program. In the new program, students borrow right from the U.S. Treasury, and cost savings are poured back into student aid. UPDATE: Read Inside Higher Ed's lengthy piece on Shireman, which includes a very interesting nugget about how the stock ...


Edujobs Hits the Editorial Pages

So on the heels of the Obama administration sticking its neck out to support the edujuobs bill, the Washington Post editorial page put out this op-ed urging lawmakers to reject the legislation. The editorial points to some issues underlying the debate over the edujobs bill, including that it a) isn't offset if it becomes part of the emergency spending bill financing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and b) doesn't include any sort of provision urging districts to rethink seniority-based layoffs. Here's a snippet from the editorial: The congressional measure fails to use dollars in a way that would have ...


Duncan Urges Congressional Leaders to Pass Edujobs Bill ASAP

It's almost crunch time on the edujobs legislation. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent a letter today to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. the Speaker of the House, and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Majority Leader, asking them to please include the $23 billion edujobs measure in the supplemental appropriations bill funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that the Senate is set to consider very soon. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees education spending, is planning to introduce the bill as an amendment to the supplemental, once it goes to the Senate floor. ...


1,669 'i3' Applications Received by Education Department

By yesterday's 4:30 p.m. deadline, 1,669 districts, schools, and nonprofits had turned in their applications for the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund, according to a summary document posted this afternoon on the U.S. Department of Education's website. From a logistical standpoint, that number may be a relief for the department from the nearly 2,500 entities that filed notices of intent indicating they might apply. Such a huge applicant pool would have required a ton of peer reviewers, although more than 1,600 isn't necessarily going to make things easy. In that applicant pool, we ...


Duncan to 'i3' Losers: Don't Complain, Demand More Money

Today is the deadline for districts, schools, and nonprofits to apply for Investing in Innovation grants, and when U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke at the NewSchools Venture Fund Summit at noon, already 800 had flooded in. More than 2,000 are expected by today's 4:30 p.m. deadline. (A quick side-note: The department has extended the i3 deadline to May 19 for applicants who were affected by the massive flooding in Tennessee earlier this month. (UPDATE: Thanks to the Politics K-12 reader who alerted me that I had included the wrong deadline date for those affected ...


Update on the Edujobs Bill

So, it's May and the pink slips are going out. Where exactly is that $23 billion to help stabilize education jobs? Well, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the subcommittee overseeing education spending and the author of the bill, has plans to introduce it as an amendment to a bill making supplemental appropriations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a Senate aide told me. Lobbyists expect that bill to hit the floor in the next couple weeks. Two issues have the potential to gum up the works or at least spark debate, either on the Senate floor or ...


Senate Education Committee Snags McLaughlin

Michele McLaughlin, who has worked on teacher quality issues at both the American Federation of Teachers and Teach for America, has recently joined the staff of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee where she will work with Bethany Little and others on a variety of K-12 issues, including Title I. While at AFT, McLaughlin worked with John See on a late, great blog on the No Child Left Behind Act. McLaughlin's background might be an ideal fit for Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the Senate HELP committee, who would like to move a bill reauthorizing the ...


Was Race to the Top Authorized?

Grover J. "Russ" Whitehurst, the former director of the Institute of Education Sciences, argues in this Education Week commentary that the Obama administration's signature education policy program, the $4 billion Race to the Top competition, was not authorized by Congress. As a reporter who covered the development of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act very closely, I found his commentary thoughtful but, ultimately, I disagree with his conclusion that the program wasn't authorized. In making his argument, Whitehurst takes a look at the actual language in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The bill says, in a nutshell, that the ...


Ed. Dept. Seeks to Correct Race to the Top Record

This editorial in yesterday's Los Angeles Times appears to be causing the U.S. Department of Education some Race to the Top trouble. And this may be an instance in which the department hasn't really earned it. The Times writes of a "deal" (presumably brokered between U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger) to let the state apply for round two of Race to the Top even though only a few districts would take part. And this deal supposedly allowed the education secretary to save face by ensuring the largest state applied for his signature ...


38 Applications Expected for Race to Top, Round Two

Education Secretary Arne Duncan continues to have a good day at the office as 37 states plus the District of Columbia say they're going to compete in the second round of Race to the Top, in which $3.4 billion in economic-stimulus prize money is up for grabs. Given all of the squabbles within states over buy-in, and one or two newsworthy state dropouts from the competition, this is a very strong showing for Duncan's signature education reform driver. No doubt, Duncan recognizes the importance of strong state support for Race to the Top—as is evident by the fact...


Rep. Obey, a Key Duncan-Dissing Dem, to Retire

So a number of outlets are reporting that Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and also the subcommittee on education spending, is not going to run for re-election. Obey is expected to make a "major" announcement later today. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan & Co. are probably greeting the news with (silent) cheers of joy and (discreetly) breaking open the champagne. Obey has been super skeptical of Duncan's reform agenda almost from the get-go, saying, for instance, that the department is setting cash-strapped school districts up for failure by expecting them to make progress ...


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