From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin: Several big names in ed reform, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan and New York City School Chancellor Joel I. Klein gathered today to discuss a new McKinsey & Company report about the achievement gap’s impact on the economy. Although much of what was said about low-income and minority students lagging behind in achievement was old hat, the report did back up the cost of the gaps with estimated dollar signs. The researchers spoke of racial, income, and system-wide gaps, but emphasized that the international gap, which places the U.S. behind 24 other nations in ...

Education secretary Arne Duncan seems to be getting even tougher on states who may be playing financial shell games with their state stabilization fund money, declaring in an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal: "If they divert money intended for education to noneducational purposes, we may deny future funding or even seek to recover misspent funds." While Duncan has certainly said he would deny future funding (e.g. Race to the Top funding), I'm hard pressed to remember when he's actually threatened to get the money back. In fact, in an interview with him last month, I asked ...

So California is the big winner in the 50-state-sweepstakes of who is first to get the initial round of state fiscal stabilization money. The Golden State's Prize: Nearly $4 billion in stimulus money for schools. Actually, there isn't much of a contest here. States have already gotten a portion of the Title I and special education money they're slated to receive under the economic stimulus package. And although the process of applying for state stabilization money was a little trickier, the Department of Education promised a quick turnaround on the first batch of money. California was quickly followed by Illinois, ...

Still no deputy, but other appointments are starting to come fast and furious. The Department announced that Robert Shireman will serve as deputy undersecretary, and Massie Ritsch will be deputy assistant secretary for External Affairs and Outreach. Shireman's appointment shouldn't come to a surprise to anyone who has been following President Barack Obama's higher ed. policy. He had a huge hand in crafting those bombshell student loan proposals that came out as part of Obama's preliminary budget. Shireman founded the Institute for College Access and Success and the Project on Student Debt, a research and advocacy organization. And he was ...

President Barack Obama has asked his cabinet secretaries to put their heads together to cut $100 million from their budgets. And so far, the Ed. Department has found almost $10 million in spare change. For one thing, the department is going to get rid of its full-time education policy attaché at the U.S. Mission to UNESCO in Paris. (Too bad, education policy experts who are owed a political favor, that woulda been a sweet a gig.) That will save $713,000. The Department will also make more employees share each printer, resulting in a savings of $6.7 million ...

The Race to the Top is officially on, so says Michele in her piece on a big standards pow-wow in Chicago today. (And contrary to Sam Dillon's meandering piece on standards in the New York Times, Arne Duncan is not the first such federal official to make the call for national standards.) Alexander Russo appears to be quite broken up over the news that EdWeek's own David Hoff is leaving. Is John Easton, the new head of the Institute of Education Sciences, reform-y enough? Mike Petrilli at Flypaper debates himself. The budgetary "shell games" that Michele wrote about in this ...

David Hoff is putting away his reporter's notebook and joining the U.S. Department of Education as deputy assistant secretary for communications services.

Four states have submitted their stabilization fund applications to the feds, and only South Dakota puts their documents up prominently online.

Alan Bersin, a "border czar" under Clinton, is the former superintendent of the San Diego City Schools and former California Secretary of Education.

And he's already hard at work in his new role, signing on to a letter about the DC voucher program that is generating some push-back.

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