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 ...


From guest blogger Stephen Sawchuk Senate Republicans have a lot to be grouchy about these days, it seems. And, as I discovered this morning, some of them aren't just irritated by the Democrats' handling of the stimulus proposal, but also at the Bush Administration's handling of the No Child Left Behind Act in the administration's final days. In remarks at a conference on federal-education priorities sponsored by the Economic Policy Institute and others, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander's top aide, David Cleary, had some choice comments about the new and old administrations. "I didn't realize how much we liked Arne Duncan ...


As the House of Representatives debated the $825 billion stimulus measure, which members are expected to vote on tonight, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, held a conference call with reporters to talk about the money for education in the stimulus package. Republicans, including the Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon of California, the top GOP member of the House education panel, have expressed concern that it might be tough to take programs like Title I and spending for students in special education back down to their current levels after the record increases in ...


The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved some $125 billion on education programs as part of a mammoth $825 billion economic stimulus package. The bill was approved on a 21-9 vote, with some more moderate Republicans crossing over to vote with the Democrats. Other GOP lawmakers, however, argued that they were shut out of the process of crafting the bill and that the measure would do little to stimulate the stumbling economy. The education provisions in the Senate bill are pretty similar to those in the House version of the measure, as I detailed here. Additionally, there's $16 billion for K-12 ...


The bill would provide about $125 billion for education programs.


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