Here's some potentially good news for cash-strapped school districts: It looks like Congress is going to work on a real, honest-to-goodness budget for education in fiscal year 2009, which actually began back on Oct.1. In September, Congress passed a measure extending funding for most federal programs—including education—at fiscal year 2008 levels until March to avoid a repeat of last year's showdown with President Bush. It even looked like lawmakers were just going to pass another extension covering the rest of fiscal 2009, then get to working on the fiscal 2010 budget, which will be the first proposed...


Cash-strapped school districts may see an infusion of federal aid in a sweeping stimulus package being crafted by Congress and President-elect Barack Obama. But it isn't clear yet whether the measure will contain dollars earmarked specifically for K-12 schools in the form of, say, more Title I or special education money, or more general aid to states that would help protect districts from massive budget cuts. Three governors—Jon Corzine of New Jersey, a Democrat; James E. Doyle of Wisconsin, a Democrat; and Jim Douglas of Vermont, Republican—testified before the House Appropriations Committee today on the need for state aid so...


Never fear. Last week, Bill Ayers wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times about his time with the Weather Underground. And in it, the University of Illinois, Chicago education prof reiterates claims that he wasn't a close associate of President-elect Obama's. This morning, the post's Charles Lane has a response, focusing on Ayers' unwillingness to say in the editorial that the Weather Underground's activities were politically unproductive—not to mention dangerous....


This morning I attended a meeting organized by the National League of Cities for education policy of staff of big city mayors. The session focused on next steps for the incoming administration and Congress, and was "on background" for reporters, meaning that I can't give names of the people who spoke. The mayoral staff heard from a representative of the Obama transition team. The group is tight-lipped about its next steps and in a "listen-only" mode for the most part when it comes to communicating with education organizations. The representative gave little indication of what the Obama administration's first moves ...


From guest blogger David J. Hoff: Michael Bennet is the latest to have his name surface as a potential secretary of education. Jonathan Alter mentioned the Denver superintendent in his Newsweek column about Bill Gates using his philanthropic efforts to influence national and federal K-12 policy. Bennet is one of three urban superintendents who "would suit Gates and other reform-minded philanthropists just fine," Alter writes. Chicago's Arne Duncan and New Orleans' Paul Vallas are the others, but New York City's Joel Klein is an unlikely pick because of his strained relationship with AFT President Randi Weingarten, Alter says. "I have ...


The Illinois Education Association is calling for Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich to resign after the governor and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested this morning on corruption and bribery charges. The Democratic governor allegedly tried to benefit financially from the pending appointment of the Senate seat recently vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, according one of a number of accusations included in the FBI's 78-page indictment. Blagojevich has sole authority to select Obama's replacement. In a statement on the matter released today the teachers' union said: We are appalled by the allegations found in the complaint against Gov. Rod ...


From guest blogger David J. Hoff: AFT President Randi Weingarten wants to take Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's place in the Senate, the New York Daily News reports. She's got tough competition from a host New York pols and Caroline Kennedy. But Weingarten does have a few arguments for her candidacy. She'd be an historic pick as the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate, and she's got connections to New York Gov. David Paterson. Plus, Paterson could choose Weingarten to mollify teachers' complaints about his education budget proposals, New York suggests. Weingarten didn't deny interest in a statement ...


In our story about the transition this week, David, Michele and I mention a meeting among the Obama transition officials and some education groups, including the Learning First Alliance, which includes major education groups representing teachers, school board members, and school executives. They talked about federal spending on education and the effects of the recent economic meltdown on schools. I also heard that in that meeting the transition team was curious about what kinds of federal research projects would be useful for states and educators. In his campaign education proposal, Obama pledged to double spending on education research and development ...


So today I caught up with Linda Darling-Hammond, the Stanford education professor who is heading up President elect-Obama's education policy transition team, after she gave a speech on teacher professional development at the National Staff Development Council's conference in Maryland. Darling-Hammond was apparently not permitted to discuss the transition in any specificity, so she couldn't tell me who was being considered for Education Secretary, when that appointment would be announced, or whether she would be taking any position in the new administration. I also asked her about any forthcoming money for K-12 programs. It looks like school facilities are likely ...


This weekend, President-elect Barack Obama outlined his plan to build "21st century" schools and expand broadband access. He argues that improving school infrastructure is a win-win that can help strengthen the economy by creating jobs, while bolstering student learning and helping the U.S. stay economically competitive over the long haul. Obama didn't offer any dollar amounts or substantive details about how the plan would be structured. But Rep. George Miller, the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, may have laid some of the groundwork with a "green schools" bill he championed earlier this year. That legislation passed ...


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