August 2010 Archives

Will Race to Top Winners Help Advance Legislative Priorities?

Back before the Race to the Top Round One winners were announced, I wondered whether the Education Department would select winners from states with influential members of Congress, who might be able to help U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan move his agenda. Of course, the selection process was set up in a way intended to assure that political influence was not a factor in determining who actually won—no state got extra points for being the home of a powerful member of Congress. But politics could be part of the fallout, including the question of whether the Race...


In Winning Race to Top States, Hot Races for Governor

Race to the Top Round 2 may be over, but another high-stakes competition is underway in just about all of the winning states: the 2010 gubernatorial elections. And in some cases, the results of those contests could flip control of the state house from one party to the other. The question that's tough to answer right now: Just how much ownership will a governor's successor have over a plan his or her predecessor helped to create (or at least endorsed)? Of the nine states that won Race to the Top grants last week, a whopping eight have elections underway for ...


Update on New Jersey Race to Top Drama: Commissioner Fired

Questions emerge about New Jersey Gov. Christie's claim that his administration had taken necessary steps to fix a critical mistake in the state's Race to the Top application.


Race to the Top: More on New Jersey's Costly Goof

New Jersey botches its Race to the Top application. The governor is blaming the feds, and U.S. Department of Ed spokesman responds.


Updated: Race to Top: The Follow-Up Edition

Critics question why Colorado and Louisiana were left out; in New Jersey, did an application error doom the state's application?


Race to Top: Duncan Dishes out Praise, and Sympathy

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says political favoritism and geography were not factors in the awarding of Round Two Race to the Top grants.


An Early Read on the Race to Top Winners

Winners emphasized innovative approaches to school turnarounds and teacher evaluation, among other changes.


Updated: Race to Top Round 2: Announcing the Winners

Nine states, plus the District of Columbia, are named as winners.


Race to Top Announcement Expected Tomorrow

The winners of Round 2 of the federal Race to the Top program are expected to be announced tomorrow.


State Policymakers Talk Standards, Race to the Top, ESEA

Memo to Congress and the U.S. Department of Education: Stay out of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. At least that was the message at an Education Commission of the States forum session Friday from three state policymakers whose states have either won the Race to the Top competition (Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat from Tennessee) or are finalists (Dwight Jones, the state schools chief in Colorado, and Mitchell Chester, the state schools chief in Massachusetts.) If the feds decide to take ownership of Common Core, they could inject an unwelcome note of partisanship, Bredesen said. "The problem with ...


What Will States Do When the Federal Tap Slows Down?

States are more dependent on the federal government for help in funding education than they have been in decades, education finance guru Michael Griffith told a crowd that mostly consisted of state policymakers at a forum at the Education Commission of the States conference in Portland, Ore. Federal spending on K-12 used to be around 8 or 9 percent, he said. Now it's about 19 percent. "When you're talking about driving policy, it's the golden rule, he who has the gold makes the rules," Griffith said. And even a tiny bit of federal funding can make a big difference. For ...


Congress to Investigate School Turnaround Companies

Rep. George Miller is taking a closer look at companies chasing federal school turnaround dollars.


States: Come Get Your Edujobs Money

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wasn't kidding when he promised school districts and states that the applications for the new Education Jobs Fund (created under the $10 billion edujobs bill) would be very quick and "streamlined." Less than a week after President Obama signed the edujobs bill, the application has been posted, and it is super straightforward. There is basically only one question: States have to specify whether they plan to distribute the funds through Title I or through their state education funding formula. (Except for Texas, which is special, and gets no choice in the matter. Texas ...


Transparency Watch: What the Heck Is in the House Education Spending Bill?

The Senate has already posted its version of the bill online, but the House has yet to reveal details of its version seven weeks after a subcommittee approved it.


Bennet Wins Primary, Faces Stimulus Foe in General Election

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., a former Denver schools chief and one of the Obama administration's go-to guys in Congress on education policy, beat back a primary challenge.


Secretary Duncan: The Money Will Come Quickly

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told reporters today that he plans to implement a "streamlined" application process for states and districts to snag their share of the $10 billion education jobs fund. Duncan said he hoped to get the money out to districts and states "in a matter of weeks." "We feel a huge sense of urgency to get this money out the door," Duncan said. But he said the money would not necessarily alleviate state and district financial woes. "There's still unmet need out there," Duncan acknowledged. For "the vast majority of districts around this country, this ...


Education Jobs Bill Finally Headed to Obama's Desk

Congress today finally gave its approval to the education jobs package, which provides $10 billion to help states stave off layoffs and rehire teachers. The measure passed on a vote of 247-161. The next stop is for President Obama to sign the bill, which he has championed. Read more about the debate, and how the money will be used, here. The bill includes a nearly $12 billion cut to food stamps, a $50 million cut to Striving Readers, an adolescent literacy program, a $10.7 million cut to Ready to Teach, a telecommunications program for teachers, and an $82 million ...


A Personal Note From Politics K-12

Sometime in the next three weeks or so, the Michele half of this Politics K-12 duo will be taking a hiatus from blogging, and from Education Week. I'm expecting my first child at the end of August, and the real question is which will come first: baby, or Race to the Top Round 2 winners? This is really up in the air because last time, in Round 1, the winners were announced two weeks after the finalists made their in-person presentations to the judges. In this round, those presentations start this week, which would put an announcement of winners as ...


Interpreting i3 Scores: Good Luck

After announcing the 49 winning applicants for the $650 Investing in Innovation competition, the U.S. Department of Education has now put online the scores, judges' comments, and more details about each project. Trying to make sense of the numerical scores for the validation and development award winners is, at least for this blogger, an exercise in futility. And it's all because of a statistical process called "standardization." For me, the quest to understand the i3 scoring system began with this question: Did Saint Vrain School District really have the best application of them all? Because of the large number ...


NewSchools Launches $100M Innovation Fund

In its biggest effort yet to influence education reform, the San Francisco-based NewSchools Venture Fund is launching its fourth fund, a $100 million investment to spur innovation in teacher preparation, school turnarounds, and charter-school management. The new fund is meant to help advance a new, federal agenda that's focused on innovation. In fact, just yesterday we learned about the 49 applicants who won $650 million in Investing in Innovation, or i3, grants. The i3 program is a new competition created by the economic-stimulus package and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Ted Mitchell, the CEO of NewSchools, told me ...


Senate Passes Edujobs Bill

The U.S. Senate today approved a long-stalled measure that would provide $10 billion to prevent what supporters say would be hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs nationwide. The legislation also includes some $16 billion in Medicaid aid to states, which would indirectly help K-12 education since, without the Medicaid funds, states would have had to make cuts to other programs, likely including schools. Leaders of the U.S. House of Representative, meanwhile, are taking the unusual step of calling for lawmakers to return from their August recess next week to pass the final version of the bill. The House ...


49 Applicants Win 'i3' Grants

Teach for America, KIPP, Ohio State University, and the Success for All Foundation were chosen for grants of up to $50 million under the federal Investing in Innovation program.


House to Return to Vote on Edujobs

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., today said she will call the U.S. House of Representatives back next week to pass the Senate's version of the edujobs measure, which would provide $10 billion to help stave off teacher layoffs. The measure also includes $16 billion in additional Medicaid aid to states. The sooner Congress passes the legislation, the sooner the cash can begin makes its way to state and district coffers. The House was originally slated to return in mid-September, meaning the school year would already be underway before districts could be assured of the funding. The upshot: This almost ...


Analyzing the 26-Point Increase in Race to Top Scores

During a call with reporters in conjunction with the announcement of the Race to the Top Round 2 finalists, Education Secretary Arne Duncan touted the 26-point increase in average scores since the first round. Between the two rounds of competition, he said, "The movement we saw in terms of reform was extraordinary." Just how extraordinary was it? Well, to figure that out, we need to first figure out how the Education Department calculated this 26-point average increase. Officials there clarified for me that the 26-point average Duncan referred to was arrived at by comparing the average score of all Round ...


Edujobs Clears Key Hurdle

The Senate's version of a $10 billion education jobs package, which looked like it was on life support just a few days ago, has now cleared an important procedural hurdle, smoothing the way for final passage in that chamber. Senators today voted 61-38 to cut off debate on the measure, meaning that it can receive final consideration. The bill, which would provide aid to states to prevent what supporters warn would be thousands of teacher layoffs, includes some offsets to education programs, albeit not to key administration priorities, such as Race to the Top. The bill would trim $82 million ...


UPDATED: Edujobs Drama Continues

Remember we told you the Senate was slated to finally, finally vote on a $10 billion edujobs package tonight? Well, that didn't end up happening. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Majority Leader, pulled the legislation, which also included $16 billion in Medicaid aid for states, after a cost estimate found that the bill was not completely offset (meaning paid for) by cuts to other programs. The $26 billion piece of legislation would still have added about $5 billion in the deficit, according to an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan agency that analyzes legislation. Moderate Democrats and some ...


Ed. Dept. and HHS Join Forces on Early Ed

U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, who is trying to tear down those silos that dot the federal bureaucracy landscape, announced today a new interagency board on early education. This partnership between the Education Department and Health and Human Services is supposed to, according to the press release: improve the quality of early learning programs and outcomes for young children; increase the coordination of research, technical assistance and data systems; and advance the effectiveness of the early learning workforce among the major federally funded early learning programs across the two departments. Duncan has talked about such partnerships before, particularly when it ...


Farewell to State EdWatch's Lesli Maxwell

As she has just reported over at her own blog, my colleague and fellow blogger Lesli Maxwell is bidding adieu to Education Week. Today is her last day. Her work has intersected often with federal policy and politics. She has doggedly tracked the $4 billion being spent to turn around the nation's worst-performing schools, a priority for EdSec Arne Duncan. We teamed up to predict winners in Rounds 1 and 2 of Race to the Top. And, I think her question about charter schools was the one that most riled up Duncan when he did an hour-long interview with EdWeek ...


White House to Senate: Pass Edujobs

In advance of tonight's vote, the White House has thrown its unequivocal weight behind the edujobs measure. The administration released this statement, urging Congress to pass the bill. The Administration strongly supports Senate passage of [the measure], which would provide much-needed relief to teachers and critical assistance to hard-pressed States. Since teachers are essential to the quality of education that the Nation affords its children and to America's long-term strength and security, the Administration strongly supports the $10 billion Education Jobs Fund to avert the layoff of hundreds of thousands of public school teachers as students return to school in ...


'i3' Winners To Be Announced Thursday

Applicants who scored the highest in the $650 million Investing in Innovation grant competition will be announced Thursday by the Education Department, so stay tuned to this space for details on who won, who lost, and what it all means. But first, an important caveat. These applicants are not quite winners until they've secured their 20 percent private-sector match, a requirement for winning (unless they've gotten a waiver). They must do so by Sept. 8 or risk not getting their grant. While you're waiting to see who wins, read up on who wants this money, the role of philanthropies in ...


Edujobs: Rising Again?

The Senate is scheduled to vote tonight on a measure that would provide $10 billion to stave off education layoffs.


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