Posts Tagged ‘Secretary Duncan’

Legislative Update: Budget, Jobs Hearing, ESEA, Fast Track to College Act

Friday, January 28th, 2011

House Republicans Set Budget Levels for FY11

This week the House passed House Resolution 38, which directs Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (WI) to issue budget allocations for FY 11 non-security discretionary spending at FY 08 levels or lower. The House approved the resolution by a vote of 256-165, with all Republicans and 17 Democrats voting for it. Allocations at FY08 levels would mean a 13.6 percent cut in federal programs across the board, and would result in a $9.42 billion reduction in spending for education programs from the current funding level.

Chairman Ryan is slated to provide the House Appropriations Committee with figures the week of February 7  that they can use to prepare a continuing resolution (CR). House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA) wants a vote on the CR the week of February 14 before the current CR expires in March. President Obama is also scheduled to release his FY12 budget the week of February 14.

House Holds Hearing on American Workforce

The House Education and Workforce Committee held its first hearing of the 112th Congress this week, State of the American Workforce, which focused on the current state of the U.S. workforce and strategies to encourage the private sector to hire new workers. In his testimony, Gov. Bob McDonnell (VA) spoke about his state’s goal to graduate an additional 100,000 postsecondary students, especially in high demand STEM fields. During questioning, Rep. Bobby Scott (VA) asked if “vocational education opportunities” would be part of this plan, and McDonnell stated that two-year certificates and Associate degrees will help individuals obtain well paying jobs.

Administration and Senate Vow to Work Together on ESEA This Year

On a call with media this week Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, along with the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee’s chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (IA), ranking member Sen. Mike Enzi (WY), and Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN), the ranking member of the subcommittee overseeing K-12 policy, said that they intend to move quickly and in a bipartisan manner on a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Some areas of agreement included: changing the AYP system, focusing on the lowest performing schools, advancing teacher evaluation systems, and disaggregating data by subgroups.

Harkin stated that he would like to have a bill ready for mark up by the Easter recess, and on the floor by the summer. He said the committee is going begin writing the legislation, without further hearings (the committee held 10 hearings last year).

Fast Track to College Act

This week Herb Kohl (WI) introduced S. 154, Fast Track to College Act, which would authorize the Secretary of Education to make grants to support early college high schools and other dual enrollment programs in an effort to reduce high school dropout rates and improve access to college for students.

By Nancy in Legislation
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ED Stakeholder Forum: 2011 Priorities and New Data “Dashboard”

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

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.

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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Community College and Career Training Grants Now Available

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Shortly after taking office in 2009, President Obama pledged that America would have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 and would increase the number of workers who attain degrees, certificates, and other industry-recognized credentials. An announcement from the Administration today should go a long way in helping to reach that goal. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that grant applications for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program are now available. The grants were authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 and funded at $2 billion over four years by the health care bill in 2010.

“These grants will help colleges create programs that make it possible for workers to come back to school and acquire skills and industry-recognized credentials needed to compete for good jobs in growing industries,” said Secretary Solis.

The grants are authorized at $500 million a year (FY 2011 to 2014) and will be available to community colleges or other two-year degree granting institutions of higher education as defined in the Higher Education Act. The goal of the grants is for schools to expand their capacity to provide education and career training to TAA for Workers program participants and other individuals to upgrade their knowledge and skills so that they can find family-sustaining employment. Each state will be guaranteed a minimum of 0.5% of the total funding, or $2.5 million per state per year.

The solicitation for grant applications can be accessed here. Applications must be received no later than 4 PM ET on April 21, 2011.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Legislative Update: 112th Congress, House Education Committee, ESEA

Friday, January 7th, 2011

New Congress Sworn in this Week, Republicans Pledge Spending Cuts

On Wednesday the 112th Congress was sworn in, with Republicans taking control of the House and Democrats retaining control of the Senate, but by a smaller margin than in the last Congress. One of the top priorities of the House this session is to cut spending.

During the 2010 campaign Republicans vowed to cut spending by at least $100 billion in the next year, but that number may be shrinking. With reality setting in, and three months of FY11 already gone, House Republicans are now indicating that that figure may be closer to $50 to 60 billion. One change to the rules for curbing spending is a new “cut as you go” rule. During the last Congress Democrats employed “pay as you go” rules that required most bills that increased spending or cut taxes to be offset with spending cuts or tax increases in other programs. But under this new rule, only spending cuts can be used to offset spending increases. This will allow members to propose tax cuts even if the cost is not covered by spending reductions. However, the new rule will have limited impact because it does not apply to the Senate, who must also pass any proposed legislation.

Changes on the House Education Committee

With Rep. John Kline (MN) taking over at the helm, there are a number of changes in store for the House committee that oversees Perkins and other education and workforce issues. For starters, the name of the Education and Labor Committee has been changed to the Education and the Workforce Committee. In a statement last month, Kline announced that the Committee will also be smaller this session, with approximately 23 Republicans and likely 17 Democrats. Kline also announced the subcommittee chairmen for the upcoming year. The Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness (which oversees Perkins and WIA) will be chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (NC), a former community college president. Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA) will chair the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education (which oversees ESEA). Kline also eliminated the subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities.

Secretary Duncan Urges Congress to Renew ESEA This Year

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan took the pages of the Washington Post this week to make the case for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act this year, saying that “few areas are more suited for bipartisan action than education reform.” Duncan pointed out that there are many areas on which Republicans and Democrats can agree, from less emphasis on labeling schools as failures, to using a growth model, to enhancing flexibility for school districts.

By Nancy in Legislation
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The “New Normal” in Education: Doing More with Less

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

At today’s American Enterprise Institute event, “Bang for the Buck in Schooling: A Conversation with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan”, Rick Hess set the context for Secretary Duncan’s remarks about doing more with less. Hess stated that there has been a three generation spree of education spending – education spending up each year since 1933. Per pupil spending since 1960s tripled. But the recent Congressional elections show that it will be hard to maintain this level of spending in education, despite the need for schools to do better. He suggests one way to save money is for schools and districts to use more technology.

Secretary Duncan spoke about the New Normal: “For the next several years, preschool, K-12, and postsecondary educators are likely to face the challenge of doing more with less.” While this new reality sounds daunting, he was optimistic that this could be an opportunity to make dramatic changes if we are smart, innovative, and courageous in rethinking the status quo.

While there has been much talk in recent weeks about the amount of federal education funding and the need to cut spending, Duncan stated that the federal investment in K-12 education is just eight percent. State funding makes up about half of education spending, while local spending represents 44 percent. With half of all education spending coming from the state level, the following points were alarming:

Duncan stressed the importance of making cuts that would not impact the classroom, such as deferring maintenance and construction projects, cutting bus routes, lowering the costs of textbooks and health care, improving energy use and efficiency in school buildings, and reducing central office personnel. But while these changes are essential, they are hardly sufficient.

“By far, the best strategy for boosting productivity is to leverage transformational change in the educational system to improve outcomes for children. To do so, requires a fundamental rethinking of the structure and delivery of education in the United States,” said Duncan. Some of the key areas that he felt we must focus on are reducing dropout rates, boosting college and career readiness, and ensuring that there is no longer a need to spend billions of dollars a year on remedial education because students should have learned these skills in high school.

Duncan also talked of doing away with “factory model of education” which has no place in the 21st century when schools must prepare all students for college and careers. Instead, he would like to see more personalized instruction, the smart use of technology, rethinking policies around seat-time requirements and class size, and compensating teachers based on their educational credentials.

He also encouraged districts to maintain a diverse and rich curriculum, which can be tough when money is tight. But, as he said, it is this diverse curriculum that makes school exciting, fun, and engages young people in coming to school every day. This comment immediately made me think of CTE. As we all know, CTE has been shown to help keep students engaged in school, and cutting it would do a great disservice to students in every district. So, at a time when state and local budgets are tighter than ever, we must make the case for CTE as a way to keep students in school and for transforming the “factory model of education.”

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Final Program Integrity Rules Issued

Friday, October 29th, 2010

This summer the U.S. Department of Education released draft changes to the Higher Education Act that seek to ensure program integrity in federal financial aid programs, as well as draft changes to the gainful employment definition. The final rules for program integrity were released yesterday, and will go into effect on July 1, 2011. These rules are aimed at strengthening federal student aid programs at for-profit, nonprofit and public institutions by “protecting students from aggressive or misleading recruiting practices, providing consumers with better information about the effectiveness of career college and training programs, and ensuring that only eligible students or programs receive aid.”

“These new rules will help ensure that students are getting from schools what they pay for: solid preparation for a good job,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement.

Final rules on a gainful employment definition will be released in early 2011 and will go into effect on July 1, 2012. The Department plans to hold several stakeholder meetings during the next several weeks, as well as public hearings on November 4th and November 5th. These meetings will allow individuals to clarify the comments they submitted and respond to questions from Department officials.

By Nancy in Public Policy, Uncategorized
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Race to the Top Assessment Winners Announced

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Today, the Department of Education announced more than $330 million in Race to the Top assessment grant awards to the consortia of states that submitted applications. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) will receive $170 million and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) will receive $160 million. The goal of these two consortia is to develop a “new generation” of math and English language arts assessments for third grade through high school that will be aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The assessments will be put into place by the 2014-2015 school year.

PARCC is a coalition of 26 states and will test students’ ability to read complex text, complete research projects, excel at classroom speaking and listening assignments, and work with digital media. The consortia will replace the single year-end high stakes test with a series of assessments given throughout the year. PARCC’s application stated that its assessment system “will provide the tools needed to identify whether students—from grade 3 through high school—are on a trajectory for postsecondary success and, critically, where gaps may exist and how they can be remediated well before students enter college or the workforce.”

SBAC is comprised of 31 states that will test students using computer adaptive technology that will ask students tailored questions based on their previous answers. The consortia will still use a single test at the end of the year for accountability purposes, but will create a series of interim tests throughout the year to let students, parents, and teachers know whether students are on track. You can see which states are included in both of the consortia here.

In a speech this morning at Achieve, Inc. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that states in both consortia have agreed to set the same achievement levels or cut‐scores on their  assessments and that the Department will ask them to collaborate to make sure student test results are comparable across participating states. Duncan also laid out how these assessments differ from existing state tests, including the use of smart technology, immediate feedback, accommodations, and the use of formative assessments that document student growth. Finally he said that “for the first time, the new assessments will better measure the higher‐order thinking skills so vital to success in the global economy of the 21st century and the future of American prosperity. To be on track today for college and careers, students need to show that they can analyze and solve complex problems, communicate clearly, synthesize information, apply knowledge, and generalize learning to other settings.”

As you may be aware, there was a third group of states, the State Consortium on Board Examination Systems, that applied for $30 million in funding under the competition to support assessments at the high school level. However, this group did not win an award.

By Nancy in News, Public Policy
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Ten Race to the Top Winners Announced

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Today Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the round two winners of the $3.4 billion in Race to the Top grants.  These winners are:

  1. Florida
  2. Georgia
  3. Hawaii
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Maryland
  6. New York
  7. North Carolina
  8. Ohio
  9. Rhode Island
  10. Washington, D.C.

The 10 winning States have adopted rigorous common, college- and career-ready standards in reading and math, created pipelines and incentives to put the most effective teachers in high-need schools, and have alternative pathways to teacher and principal certification.

There was no immediate word on how much money each winner will receive, but awards will be based on States’ student population. In the first round of grants, Delaware was awarded $100 million and Tennessee received $500 million. In a statement, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that this round of finalists was very competitive and that the Department hopes to have a round three of grants, using $1.35 billion requested in the President’s FY11 budget.

By Nancy in News, Public Policy
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Department of Education Creates Equity and Excellence Commission, Seeks Nominations

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

In a speech before the National Urban League in July, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that he would form a bipartisan commission to examine educational equity and promised to pursue federal policies that would advance equity in the nation’s K-12 schools. The Equity and Excellence Commission will be a 15-member panel that will seek public input about inequities in K-12 education and examine how those inequities contribute to the achievement gap. The panel will submit recommendations to Duncan on how to address those inequities. The Department intends for at least one-third of the members to have experience working in or with State educational agencies or local educational agencies. Any interested person or organization may nominate one or more qualified individuals for membership. If you would like to nominate an individual or yourself for appointment to the Commission, please see the Federal Register notice establishing the Commission and requesting nominations.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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Duncan Touts CTE in Speech at National Press Club

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

duncan-arne-sec_-of-ed_-3-09At a luncheon today at the National Press Club, during which he announced the finalists for round two of Race to the Top, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke about the education reforms that the Obama Administration is undertaking, and what lies ahead for federal education policy. Secretary Duncan stressed that as the United States lags behind other nations in science, math and college completion, that we must educate our way to a better economy. Some strategies for improving student achievement and restoring the United States’ position as first in the world in college graduates include federal incentives such as Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation grants, and the Teacher Incentive Fund; a change in ESEA accountability systems; and common standards, as well as the curriculum and assessments to accompany new standards.

During the Q&A portion of the event, a question was submitted that asked whether the United States needed more CTE. The Secretary responded that yes, students will benefit from programs such as apprenticeships that allow students to “work with their hands,” that provide a range of options, and that give students a reason to stay in school.  He went on to remind the audience that CTE does not happen just at the secondary level, and that community colleges play a vital role in training students in emerging fields such as STEM and green technologies.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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