July 2010 Archives

Obama Trumpets Value of Race to the Top

The president told members of the National Urban League that his signature education initiative holds particular promise for poor and minority students in low-performing schools.

Obama to Address Concerns With Race to the Top

President Obama hoped to quell concerns about his administration's signature education initiative—the $4 billion Race to the Top program—with a speech to the National Urban League.

Duncan Deflects Civil Rights Groups' Criticism: You're 'Wrong'

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan defended his reform agenda before the National Urban League on Wednesday, declaring that the arguments being made against the agenda were flat out wrong.

Edujobs, ESEA Renewal, and Miller's Latest Take

Yesterday, Congress officially passed an emergency spending bill—without the edujobs money. Right now, there just doesn't seem to be a legislative vehicle for the $10 billion that supporters say is needed to help prevent hundreds of thousands of layoffs around the country. That despite fervent lobbying efforts by education organizations. As we mentioned earlier, advocates were eyeing legislation giving aid to small businesses as a potential next vehicle for the education jobs funding, but it's not clear if that's going to work out. The jobs money is stuck partly because of opposition from moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats in the...

Senate Panel Approves Race to Top Renewal

The president's signature education reform initiative would get $675 million in fiscal 2011 under a measure funding U.S. Department of Education programs.

18 States & D.C. Named Race to Top Round 2 Finalists

Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced today that 19 finalists, including surprise picks Hawaii and Arizona, will compete for a cut of $3.4 billion in Race to the Top, Round Two.

Race to Top Finalists Unveiled Tomorrow: Who Makes the Cut?

The finalists for the Race to the Top Round 2 competition are supposed to be announced on Tuesday by Education Secretary Arne Duncan during a 1 p.m. speech to the National Press Club, which you should be able to watch via webcast through the club's website. The Education Department is expected to issue a press release about the same time. Of course, stay tuned to Politics K-12 for the latest. Together with my colleague Lesli Maxwell, from State EdWatch, we've come up with our guesses for who will make the cut for Round 2 and a chance at some ...

Civil Rights Groups Call for New Federal Education Agenda

Seven leading civil rights groups are calling on U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to dismantle core pieces of his education agenda.

Why 'i3' May Not Have Been Congressional Target

Back when it was looking like Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was going to trim unspent funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to pay for edujobs, I thought it was pretty likely he'd take money out of the $650 million Investing in Innovation or 'i3' Fund. Instead, he ended up targeting the $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund. The i3 fund, which is meant to scale up promising practices, seemed like a good target because it hasn't had nearly as high a profile as Race to the Top, which President ...

Re-Examining Wheeler E.S.: A Case Study in Turnarounds

The education blogsphere has done a good job picking apart the weaknesses in Michael Winerip's New York Times story about a persistently low-performing school in Vermont that had to replace its principal to qualify for federal school-improvement grant money, even though it seems most everyone thought Joyce Irvine was doing a great job. The story highlights the potential weaknesses of a one-size-fits-all federal approach to turning around low-performing schools in states and districts. Replacing a principal, which is required in most cases by federal regulations, is not a sure-fire solution to turning around a school, especially in rural and other ...

Edujobs Faces Senate Gauntlet

You think getting the edujobs bill through the U.S. House of Representatives was hard, what with the whole Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., versus the Whithe House thing, and the veto threat, and the Polis letter? Well, that was a cake-walk compared to what is likely to happen in the Senate. Over at This Week in Education, Alexander Russo has a headline saying that the bill is "dead." I think that's probably premature, although it's true that gaining support for increased domestic spending, controversial offsets or not, in the Senate is and was always gonna be tough sledding. Still, the ...

Check Out Financial Disclosures for Duncan & Crew

Financial disclosure forms that top members of the Executive Branch fill out are meant to shed light on, or even prevent, any conflicts of interests by forcing key officials to reveal their assets, gifts, and past jobs. These things rarely yield anything too interesting (although this year we learned that President Obama's dog, Bo, a gift from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, was valued at $1,600). But in the interests of keeping you all informed about the goings on at the Education Department—and so that officials know we do read these forms—I present to you the calendar...

House Panel Votes for Another Year of Race to the Top

The Obama administration's centerpiece education reform program would get $800 million in fiscal 2011 under a bill approved by a House appropriations subcommittee.

White House and Duncan: Think Both Jobs and Reform

Melody Barnes, who works on K-12 issues at the White House, told reporters today that President Obama really, really wants to see money to help save education jobs. But the president doesn't want it to come at the expense of his education redesign priorities. "We don't have to make a choice between reform and making sure that teachers will stay in the classroom," Barnes said on a media conference call in which the administration worked to get out the message to reporters that Congress should a) pass edujobs, and b) use something other than top White House education initiatives as ...

Want Turnaround Money? Involve Parents, Duncan Proposes

After getting pushback from local education advocates who have been feeling left out of the school turnaround process, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced today that districts will be required to involve parents and the community as a condition of receiving school improvement grants. In a speech to the NAACP in Kansas City, Mo., Duncan said he would change the administration's ESEA draft to acknowledge the key role that communities play in turning around persistently failing schools. Even members of Congress have been critical of the lack of community involvement in the Education Department's four required models that are attached to $4...

A Reformer's Argument for Cutting Race to Top

The pros and cons of Congress' proposal to trim $500 million from Race to the Top to fund edujobs have sparked quite the discussion on this blog. Most of the commenters seem to think edujobs is a far better use of taxpayer money than Race to the Top. But here's one interesting argument in favor of cutting Race to the Top, and not for obvious reasons. Mike Petrilli over at Flypaper says that to leave Race to the Top Round 2 at a bloated $3.4 billion forces Education Secretary Arne Duncan to fund some very mediocre proposals. And that's ...

Duncan and Murray: Together for Edujobs

This week, the Senate is back and word is that lawmakers will start trying to figure out how to pay for the edujobs bill. In fact, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spent last Friday in Washington state stumping for the edujobs bill, alongside Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a key member of Congress who hasn't always seen eye-to-eye with the administration on K-12 policy issues. (For instance, last year, she spoke out against a measure that would have increased funding for the Teacher Incentive Fund—a major White House priority—because the boost would come at the expense ...

Edujobs or Race to Top: What's Worth More to States?

Depending on which state you live in, the edujobs bill may not be such a good deal—especially if your state might win a Race to the Top grant. Given all of the debate about the Congressional proposal to siphon off $500 million from the Race to the Top program to give every state an additional chunk of money to save teachers' jobs, it seems valuable to look at the trade-offs states would have to make. First, let's be clear about two things: States that have no chance of winning a Race to the Top grant in Round 2 would...

NEA Confab: Stripping On Stage, Rhetorical Pretzels & More

With Congress out and the eduworld left waiting to find out the fate of $800 million in proposed cuts from the Obama administration's signature school reform vehicles, the most political thing going on now seems to be the NEA convention. Check out my colleague Stephen Sawchuk's stellar coverage here, or, more specifically, zero in on: What caused Diane Ravitch to strip off her jacket in front of the union's assembly; Whether the union did, indeed, vote to throw EdSec Arne Duncan completely under the edu-bus; Whether delegates have even one iota of confidence in Race to the Top; How NEA ...

Senators Announce Opposition to Race to the Top Cut

Thirteen senators are urging their colleagues to spare Race to the Top and other administration K-12 priorities and come up with another way to help finance aid to states to prevent teacher layoffs. "The proposed education cuts are unacceptable," the group wrote in a letter to Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman. "Choosing between preserving teacher jobs and supporting vital education reforms is a false choice and would set a dangerous precedent. By reducing promised funding for these important reforms, Congress would be pulling the rug out from under the efforts of thousands of communities around the ...

Despite Veto Threat, House Passes Edujobs With Race to the Top Cut

The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation late Thursday night to help prevent teacher layoffs, despite opposition from the Obama administration, which threatened to veto the measure if it includes $800 million in cuts to its key K-12 initiatives. The legislation takes aim at three of the administration's most prized education priorities. That includes cutting $500 million from the $4.35 billion Race to the Top program, which rewards states for making progress on certain education redesign initiatives. It also would cut $200 million from the Teacher Incentive Fund, which doles out grants to support pay-for-performance programs, and $100 ...

Obey Defends Cuts to Race to the Top, Charters, TIF

Despite a veto threat from the White House, Rep. David Obey defended his proposal to cut $800 million in Obama administration education priorities to help pay for education jobs.

White House Threatens Edujobs Veto if Cuts to Race to Top Remain

The Obama administration has signaled that it will veto the entire education jobs bill if the $800 million in cuts to its reform priorities remain. Here is what the administration told Congress in a statement on the edujobs bill, which the U.S. House of Representatives will consider tonight: "Since the quality of education we afford our children also is essential to our long-term strength and security, the Administration supports the proposed funding to avert the layoff of hundreds of thousands of public school teachers and deep cuts in Pell Grants that millions of students need to attend college." But ...

Some State Officials Worried About Race to Top Cut

Imagine that you are a state education official who has spent months and months on Race to the Top, coaxing districts to sign memorandums of understanding and negotiating with union officials, tracking down data, and convincing the Gates Foundation to give you some planning money. Would you be irked that some folks in Congress want to make the pot smaller, potentially meaning fewer winners in the grant competition? Of course, the plan puts states in a bind. Many really want to see the $10 billion in funding to prevent teacher layoffs (and, folks could argue, states wouldn't need the money ...

President Obama: Don't Cut Race to the Top

President Obama supports jobs bill but opposes cut to signature initiative.

Edujobs: What Might Be Some Other Offsets?

So, yesterday we wrote about a proposal from Rep. David R. Obey, D-Wis., to cut $800 million in Obama administration education priorities as part of a wider effort to provide $10 billion to thwart teacher layoffs and nearly $5 billion to fill a major shortfall in the Pell Grant program. The proposed cuts include $500 million from Race to the Top, $200 million from the Teacher Incentive Fund, and $100 million intended for charters. The U.S. Department of Education and some moderate Democrats are urging Obey to find other areas to cut instead. Even the Washington Post editorial board ...

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