The education department announced today that President Obama has nominated Education Trust vice president Russlynn Ali as the new assistant secretary for civil rights. The EdTrust, of course, is very pro-accountability and championed NCLB as it was being written. And, Ali has done a lot of work on teacher quality and compensation issues. She's also the executive director of the group's West Coast arm, Education Trust-West. Of course, we're still waiting for the official word on who will be Duncan's deputy secretary....


President Obama continued his pitch for the economic stimulus package today, even as the Senate debates the future of this mega-billion-dollar package. His audience this afternoon, in addition to the media, was a class of 2nd graders at Capital City Public Charter School in Washington. (This, by the way, was a school Sara Mead of the New America Foundation suggested the president look at for his own kids.) This marks his first official school visit as president. And, as a colleague so astutely pointed out, his first visit is to a charter school. Is he making a statement? According to ...


It's a busy day on the North side of the Capitol. The Senate is debating its $888 billion version of the economic stimulus package, with an eye towards passing it by the end of the week and getting it to President Barack Obama for his signature And former Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.C., pulled himself out of the running for Secretary of Health and Human Services because of problems with unpaid taxes. So far, Republicans in the Senate seem to be echoing many of the arguments against the stimulus made by their colleagues in the House: That much of the ...


For those wondering which regulations new education secretary Arne Duncan might have his eye one, make sure the new graduation rate rules are on your list. One of the last things former education secretary Margaret Spellings did was usher through new regulations establishing a uniform way of calculating graduation rates across states, similar to what the governors voluntarily agreed to do in 2005. At issue is what defines a high school graduate, at least for accountability and statistical purposes. Should a high school get credit just for students who get a diploma within four years? What about those who take ...


First lady Michelle Obama dropped by the Department of Education this afternoon for a meet-and-greet/pep rally to honor career employees, the first in what's supposed to be a series of such sessions at various cabinet agencies. The roughly 350 employees who gathered for the event cheered, applauded, and used cellphone cameras to take pictures of the first lady. Seventeen of the agency's longest-serving employees, some of whom have spent decades at the department, stood behind Obama as she spoke. —Christopher Powers/Education Week "I am a product of your work," she told the crowd. "I wouldn't be here if ...


From guest blogger Stephen Sawchuk Education Secretary Arne Duncan made his first big staffing announcement late Friday (interesting timing). Carmel Martin will become the assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development, a position most recently held by William Evers. Martin has an extensive background in education policy but she was most recently chief education adviser to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the chairman of the Senate education committee. It's hard to tell where she stands on policy priorities. In 2007, Martin was fairly tight-lipped during the failed attempt to reauthorize the NCLB law, and it was never clear where Kennedy ...


Is the Senate stimulus anti-ed reform? Mike Petrilli thinks so, but Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who oversees the subcommittee that crafts education spending bills, indicates that's not the case. The bill doesn't include the $200 million for the Teacher Incentive Fund grants, $250 million for state data systems, and separate funding for charter school facilities. Those provisions are in the House version of the measure and are embraced by many in the pro-accountability, no-excuses crowd. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, who many consider the ultimate Democrat for Education Reform, is hoping those ...


Unlike Barack Obama, who really had no choice but to move his family to 1600 N. Pennsylvania in the District of Columbia, new ed sec Arne Duncan can move wherever he wants in the area. And since he has two school-age kids, Duncan is probably like a lot of parents who consider the quality of public schools as key in house-hunting. So while it's not surprising that Obama would choose private schools over the D.C. public schools for his kids, it's also not surprising that Duncan—who is now a prominent, national leader for America's public schools —is choosing ...


Arne Duncan, the brand-new Secretary of Education, said today that he would consider using $15 billion in proposed federal incentive grants to reward states for setting more "rigorous" standards. The money would be available to him under a broad $819 billion stimulus package that passed the House, with no GOP support, last night. "There's a series of things we're looking for," in allocating those funds, Duncan told me, in the first of a round of one-on-one interviews he gave to reporters. He indicated that the Department would want states that receive the funds to have a comprehensive data system, strong ...


The House of Representatives just passed its version of the stimulus package, which would provide some $120 billion for education programs, by a vote of 244-188. There weren't any significant changes to the education provisions in the bill, a Democratic congressional staffer told me. We wrote about the spending provisions of the bill here. As part of the tax portion of the $819 billion measure, $22 billion in school construction bonds is to be spread out over fiscal years 2009 and 2010. And it includes a $1.4 billion expansion of the Qualified Zone Academy Bond program, which helps finance ...


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