January 2009 Archives

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.


Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., may have lost the White House but he got the next best thing: A seat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.


There's been a lot of speculation that some of the folks who attended a meeting with Duncan this morning may be tapped for key positions in the U.S. Department of Education.


I'm sitting in the House Appropriations Committee's markup on the $825 billion federal stimulus package and it looks like it's going to be a very late evening. Republicans say they are concerned about how quickly the legislation is being pushed through. They say there hasn't been much bipartisan cooperation and that members haven't had a lot of time to ask questions about the measure, which includes some $122 billion for education. But Rep. David R. Obey, D-Wis., the appropriations committee's chairman and a key author of the legislation, argued that the committee has gotten input from anyone who offered it, ...


The Senate confirmed former Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan as U.S. Secretary of Education yesterday. The confirmation isn't a surprise, given the warm reception Duncan got from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. But, now that Duncan is officially in place, we may start hearing about some of the other positions in the Department of Education. In the meantime, this afternoon the House Appropriations Committee is going to consider the $825 billion stimulus package, which would provide more than $120 billion for education programs. Check back at edweek.org, and this blog for the latest....


If you're on the Mall waiting for the inaugural parade, or planning to catch it on TV from the warmth of your living rooms, keep your eyes peeled for hats, gloves, and scarves bearing the National Education Association's logo.


In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama made few explicit references to education. But his speech expounded upon themes of both public and personal accountability that are likely to influence his policy positions on education reform.


Educators gathered on Capitol Hill this morning for a reception were all smiles, but were not expecting much on education in Obama's inaugural address.


The incoming and outgoing education secretaries teamed up with John McCain and other big names at the "no excuses" group's MLK Day gathering.


That it wasn't going to be an ordinary field trip was apparent from the moment that 12 students from the KIPP Academy of Opportunity in south Los Angeles headed downtown to the Lincoln Memorial.


The drinks flowed, the sushi rolled, and the head of President-elect Obama's education-policy review team, Linda Darling-Hammond, sparkled in an elegant bronze silk gown for a reception held in her honor tonight at a swank downtown Washington hotel.


Instead of champagne flutes and string quartets, this "ball" had cotton candy, hot dogs, story time, and a puppet theater.


The kids will hear from former Vice President Al Gore, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers, and others during their time in D.C.


Bloggers are breaking out their tuxedos—and their long underwear—to bring you live coverage of the celebration.


Even though schools didn't get much play in the campaign, the incoming administration and the new Congress seem to see education as a priority.


The House of Representatives Appropriations Committee released its stimulus package today. And education programs are a big winner: Hot off the presses, here's a copy of the House Education and Labor Committee's release on the education section of the bill: EDUCATION FOR THE 21st CENTURY We will put people to work building 21st century classrooms, labs, and libraries to help our kids compete with any worker in the world. 21st Century Classrooms • School Construction: $20 billion, including $14 billion for K-12 and $6 billion for higher education, for renovation and modernization, including technology upgrades and energy efficiency improvements. Also includes $100...


For those wishing and hoping for some federal aid for schools in the stimulus package, it looks like your prayers may be answered, at least in part. There's going to be an $80 billion fund, the majority of which will be earmarked specifically for education, Democratic congressional staff say. It's unclear, though, whether it will flow to states or districts. The other big news? There's going to be money for Title I and students in special education in the stimulus, separate from the fund, Democratic congressional staff told me. No word on yet on just how much, though....


Apparently there is a letter writing campaign underway to express concerns to the transition team and members of Congress about Wendy Kopp, CEO of Teach for America, Jon Schnur, co-founder of New Leaders for New Schools, and Andrew Rotherham, co-director of Education Sector as potential choices for top jobs at the Department. This was written by Sharon Robinson, the president of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, to education lobbyists and others and passed to me by a source (not Robinson): It has come to our attention that Education Secretary Designee Arne Duncan has proposed a leadership team ...


Arne Duncan had glowing praise for Wendy Kopp, CEO and founder of Teach for America, and Jonathan H. Schnur, the co-founder of New Leaders for New Schools, in his confirmation hearing yesterday. Sources have mentioned to me that they are hearing that both are being considered for top positions at Department of Education, along with Andrew Rotherham, a co-director of Education Sector and author of one of my favorite blogs, eduwonk. Sounds like Sherman Dorn is hearing the same thing. Is this true? Well, it also sounds like the list is far from being finalized yet, and there certainly were ...


Arne Duncan, Obama's nominee for Secretary of Education, got flowers and chocolates from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at his confirmation hearing this morning. Well, okay, not really...but it wouldn't have surprised me. Every senator, from liberal Democrat Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland to Sen. Tom Coburn, a small government conservative, went out of their way to say that Duncan was extremely qualified and would be a great Secretary of Education. In the hearing, they praised everything from Duncan's record in Chicago to his jump shot to his children's good behavior. And Duncan lived up to ...


Barack Obama isn't the only one transitioning into a new gig. This blog is going through a transition of its own. About the time Barack Obama gets sworn in, this blog will be re-named Politics K-12 to reflect its new mission. Our musings, analysis, breaking news, sass and spunk won't be reserved just for the campaigns anymore. The politics of public schools—whether at the local, state or federal level—will become the expanded theme of the blog. And expect the country's dire financial straits to be a focal point for the new Politics K-12, which will closely monitor the ...


President Bush gave his very last policy speech as chief executive ever today—and he picked education as the topic. Here in Philadelphia, Mr. Bush extolled the virtues of the No Child Left Behind Act, his signature domestic achievement, in a speech at the racially and socio-economically diverse Gen. Philip Kearny Elementary School, a school that has made adequate yearly progress under NCLB every year since 2003. He didn't say anything new or surprising. He talked about how NCLB has helped expand access to choice, raised student achievement, provided parents with more information, and helped shine a light on groups ...


President-elect Barack Obama delivered a major speech today to urge "dramatic action" to jump-start the economy. In addition to highlighting his plans to use an estimated $775 billion in federal stimulus money to expand Internet broadband, computerize medical records, and double the production of alternative energy, Obama is pledging to use part of the money (it's unclear how much) to modernize school classrooms, labs, and libraries—and to modernize teacher training. This is music to the ears of education groups. "To give our children the chance to live out their dreams in a world that’s never been more competitive, ...


He'll have to share the spotlight, though, with Hillary Clinton, whose confirmation hearing as Secretary of State is the same day....


....Chicago Public Schools for creating a human shrine to the president-elect. Actually, it will be a shrine of humans (in the form of 800 CPS students), mulch, driftwood, bottles, cans, and snow! According to the press release announcing tomorrow's event, "students dressed in red, black and white become human 'drops of paint' to form a 150-foot living portrait of Barack Obama. The event is the culmination of a five-day Art for the Sky educational program by aerial artist Daniel Dancer." There's no word on whether CPS chief Arne Duncan, Obama's choice for education secretary, will be one of those human ...


Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican who helped usher in a strong standards-and-accountability system in his state (which included letter grades for schools and vouchers), will not run for the U.S. Senate, he just announced in a statement. This puts to rest speculation that he would seek the seat being vacated by Sen. Mel Martinez. In the statement, Bush says there's no "greater calling than education reform." Since leaving the state's highest office, he's been helping pursue the education reform agenda he started in his state through two foundations he now runs. That includes his continuing pursuit of ...


So a Chicago Tribune blog is reporting that Peter Cunningham has been hired to run the communications operation for Secretary of Education-designate Arne Duncan. Apparently, the strategic consultant who currently works for Duncan in the Chicago school system is quite the musician. The Tribune blog isn't specific about what position at the Department of Education Cunningham will be taking, but with experience as a communications consultant, my guess is he'll be shaping strategy, not fielding e-mails from reporters. If that's the case, that sounds to me like more or less the role that Lauren Maddox, the assistant secretary for communications ...


The Minnesota State canvassing board officially declared comedian Al Franken the winner of the country's most hotly contested Senate race yesterday. Franken defeated Sen. Norm Coleman by just 225 votes. Still, don't expect to see the former Saturday Night Live comedian up on Capitol Hill today, getting sworn in with the rest of the 111th Congress. Coleman is expected to file a lawsuit contesting the decision. So the North Star State might have just one senator for a while. We've written before that Coleman and Franken couldn't be further apart when it comes to education, particularly the No Child Left ...


So he may not have gotten picked for education secretary, but it looks like Denver schools chief Michael Bennet is headed to Washington anyway, at least according to the Rocky Mountain News. Apparently, he's been tapped by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, a Democrat, to fill the Senate seat being vacated by Ken Salazar, who is President-elect Barack Obama's choice for Interior Secretary. Fans of merit-pay programs are probably knocking back champagne flutes to celebrate the news. In Denver, Bennet presided over what is considered a model pay-for-performance program - with teachers' union buy-in. Of course, it's too early to say ...


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