At yesterday’s Education Stakeholders Forum, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan outlined the Administration’s education priorities for 2011. Chief among these goals is the reauthorization of ESEA. Duncan told the group that he met Rep. John Kline (MN), Chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, last week to discuss putting together a bipartisan bill. Duncan stated that there are many areas where the two agreed, including a smaller federal role in education, flexibility at the local level (but a high national bar), growth models, research and development, and broadening the curriculum beyond reading and math. Duncan conceded that “there are a whole host of reasons” why reauthorization may not happen this year, but he is optimistic that it will.
Second, the President intends to place a big emphasis on the importance of education in his State of the Union speech tonight. Third, despite the importance of education, the Department understands that states and local districts are in a position of having to make very tough cuts, and the Department would like to help states and locals make the best decisions they can.
Fourth, the Department has made postsecondary access and affordability a priority in 2010 and intends to continue that in 2011. They have already simplified the FAFSA forms and have announced applications of the Community College and Career Training Grants. The Department is also pushing for higher Pell grant maximum awards.
And finally, Duncan and other Department officials unveiled the “United States Education Dashboard,” a website that compiles a number of indicators that they believe give a holistic, big picture view of education in the United States and that are related to the President’s goals for education reform. The Department hopes that these indicators will help them find the gaps in the data and allow them to invest more in these areas. The Dashboard will also serve to inform policies and can be used to determine the most impactful interventions.