So it's finally here, or almost here ... The U.S. Department of Education says it will announce the lucky winners in the first round of the $4 billion Race to the Top competition on Monday. There were 16 finalists this time around, but the department hasn't yet said how many winners to expect. But it seems likely the number will be on the small side. Joanne Weiss, the department's Race to the Top guru, told state officials there would be plenty of money left in Round 2. Those that don't make the cut will get feedback from the peer reviewers ...


With the Race to the Top winners expected to be announced "very soon," it seems particularly urgent to start thinking about what the winning states will actually do with all of their money. And whether it will do any good... As I've blogged before, all of the states--except Pennsylvania--asked for more money in their RTT applications than what the Education Department had estimated as a top-of-the-line grant. Which brings up important questions about a state's capacity to deliver on its grand promises, with less money. This question become even more critical when you look at the potential winners, and just ...


Last week, lawmakers began to turn up the pushback on the department's budget proposal, including an extension for the $4 billion Race to the Top program for another year. Much of the ire came from the House Appropriations Committee, especially its chairman, Rep. David R. Obey, D-Wisc., who has questioned the administration's reform agenda in the past. Here's a snippet from his opening statement at a hearing last week on the U.S. Department of Education's fiscal year 2011 budget, at which Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified: That request includes over $3.5 billion for new and untested initiatives, ...


Those who don't know what the terms "internal validity" and "external validity" mean. That's the message that came through loud and clear at Friday's technical assistance planning seminar in Baltimore, which the U.S. Department of Education put on to help folks navigate the Investing in Innovation, or i3, grant application process. This $650 million grant program is open to school districts, and nonprofits that partner with a school district or a consortium of public schools. Applications are due May 11, with awards announced in September. And if attendance at Friday's seminar was any indication, the department is going to ...


Obviously, this is the biggest news out of Congress this weekend. But, as we've mentioned before, a major change to the student lending program is hitching a ride with the health care overhaul. The most important details for K-12 folks are that a) the bill shores up and provides an increase for Pell Grants, which expand access to college for low-income students, and b) in shoring up the Pell program, this bill may indirectly help appropriations for other key K-12 programs, including new Obama priorities. The bill's supporters told me that if it didn't pass, they would have to find ...


Democratic leaders couldn't find enough savings through elimination of subsidized student loans to cover new pre-K, new community college program, and school facilities programs.


Maybe the senators were too busy dealing with health care and student loans to think of many zingers for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan this morning, or maybe they really do like the direction of the Obama administration's blueprint for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Either way, the tone of a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing at which Duncan testified on the administration's plan was surprisingly congenial, with key players (including Republicans) praising both Duncan and the draft. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the committee's chairman, who also oversees the panel that deals with ...


So, the places to see and be seen tomorrow are the two Capitol Hill hearing rooms where U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be taking questions from lawmakers on the House and Senate education committees about the ESEA blueprint. He'll start off in the Senate (at 10 a.m.) and move over to the House (at 2:30 p.m.) As I've said before, reaction from many groups has been generally positive (except, of course, the unions). But we haven't heard much from lawmakers, beyond canned statements (I guess they're busy with this), so the hearings should be ...


So I'm sure you're well aware by now that the Obama administration released its blueprint for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. You can check out our story here and take a look at the full document online here. When I made calls to get reaction for the story, what jumped out at me was the fact that, for the most part, lots of people seemed basically pretty happy with the general direction of the blueprint. (That wasn't the case nearly three ago, when Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, ...


Remember we told you that the student-loan bill might hitch a ride with the health-care bill through that wonky procedural mechanism known as budget reconciliation? Well, it looks like the administration and the chairmen of both the House and Senate education committees officially want that happen. But it's unclear whether the rest of Congress will go along with that plan or what the final loans package will look like, including whether some new education programs that would be created under the House version of the bill will be in the mix. Some background: Last year, the Congressional Budget Office (Congress' ...


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