Press Room NEWSLETTERS
February 1, 2008 ED Review
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 February 1, 2008
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State of the Union
Policy Letters
Dropout Prevention
College Access Challenge Grants
Safe Schools/Healthy Students
Imagine Nation
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

State of the Union

Education was a major theme in the President's final State of the Union address (http://www.whitehouse.gov/stateoftheunion/2008/). Below are some excerpts from the speech.

"Six years ago, we came together to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, and, today, no one can deny its results. In 2007, fourth- and eighth-graders achieved the highest math scores on record. Reading scores are on the rise. African-American and Hispanic students posted all-time highs. Now, we must work together to increase accountability, add flexibility for states and districts, reduce the number of high school dropouts, and provide extra help for struggling schools. Members of Congress: the No Child Left Behind Act is a bipartisan achievement. It is succeeding. And, we owe it to America's children, their parents, and their teachers to strengthen this good law."

"We must also do more to help children when their schools do not measure up. Thanks to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships you approved, more than 2,600 of the poorest children in our nation's capital have found new hope at a faith-based or other non-public school. Sadly, these schools are disappearing at an alarming rate in many of America's inner cities. So, I will convene a White House summit aimed at strengthening these lifelines of learning. And, to open the doors of these schools to more children, I ask you to support a new $300 million program called Pell Grants for Kids. We have seen Pell Grants help low-income college students realize their full potential. Together, we've expanded the size and reach of these grants. Let us apply that same spirit to help liberate poor children trapped in failing public schools."

Note: On Monday (February 4), Secretary Spellings will review the President's Fiscal Year 2009 budget request. The briefing will start promptly at 1:00 p.m. ET. All are welcome; reservations are not required. Materials will be available at http://www.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/ that morning.

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Policy Letters

In separate letters to Chief State School Officers, the Secretary discussed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals involving to a lawsuit against No Child Left Behind and a decision by Congress to significantly cut funding for the Reading First program. In the first letter (http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/secletter/080118.html), the Secretary said she strongly disagreed with the Sixth Circuit's decision and was "exploring all legal remedies to overturn the decision." "NCLB is not an unfunded mandate," she continued, "but rather a compact between a state and the federal government that asks the state and its school districts—in exchange for receiving substantial federal dollars—to demonstrate results.... In my view, the Sixth Circuit's decision undermines the efforts we have made under NCLB to improve the education of our nation's children, particularly those children most in need." As the court's jurisdiction is limited, the Secretary cautioned other courts "may reject its reasoning." Also, she noted, while the lawsuit is still pending, "No state or school district should regard the ruling as license to disregard NCLB's requirements." In the second letter (http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/secletter/080129.html), the Secretary encouraged states and districts to "support the implementation of Reading First," despite the 61% decrease in federal funds. "The Reading First program is demonstrating significant results, based on a variety of indicators," she said. "It is also critical to note the positive effect Reading First has on schools that are not directly participating in the program." The Secretary suggested a variety of options for using other federal funds to supplement Reading First or using flexibilities in the law.

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Dropout Prevention

The next "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast (February 19, 8:00-9:00 ET) will highlight dropout prevention strategies that work, including adolescent reading interventions, intensive tutoring and remediation techniques, alternative high school programs, middle colleges, and community college dual enrollment programs. Under No Child Left Behind, there has been a strong investment in the improvement of public schools serving low-income students and a focus on strategies to help students stay in school and on pace for success. Along the way, the law recognizes that remediation must be integrated so that students can get back on track wherever they are in the K-12 continuum. When high school students fall behind, they are likely to drop out of school, and no reform can assist them if they are outside the classroom. The broadcast will feature a special video segment with Secretary Spellings. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/edtv/. (You can watch archived webcasts at http://www.connectlive.com/events/ednews/.)

Also: A new report from the National Council on Disability outlines the interplay between the No Child Left Behind Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, finding "students with disabilities appear to be doing better academically and appear to be graduating... at higher rates than in prior years." However, there remains a concern about dropout levels. For more information, please go to http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/
2008/NoChildLeftBehind_IDEA_Progress_Report.html
.

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College Access Challenge Grants

The Department's Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) recently announced the College Access Challenge Grant Program, a new formula grant program designed to help low-income students and families learn about, prepare for, and finance higher education. This initiative was created as part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, and $66 million has been appropriated for Fiscal Year 2008. Funds can be used for:

  • Providing information about college to students and their families, such as the benefits of going to college, opportunities, financing, and career preparation;
  • Outreach activities for students at risk of not enrolling or completing postsecondary education;
  • Need-based grants for college students;
  • Student loan cancellation, repayment, or interest rate reduction for borrowers in high-need geographical areas or high-need professions; and
  • Professional development for middle and high school guidance counselors, financial aid administrators, or college admissions counselors.

Grants will be awarded to states based on a formula that considers the relative number of people within certain age groups living below the poverty level. For FY 2008, the minimum award is $330,000. Application packages should be available in June. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/programs/cacg/.

Also: Details on the agency's two negotiated rulemaking teams for Title IV of the Higher Education Act are posted online. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/
hearulemaking/2008/index2008.html
.

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Safe Schools/Healthy Students

Applications are now available for the Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant competition. Safe Schools/ Healthy Students is a collaborative program supported by three federal agencies: Education, Health and Human Services, and Justice. Under the program, school districts partner with local law enforcement, juvenile justice, and mental health agencies to implement a comprehensive plan focused on five elements, including safe school environments, mental health treatment services, and early childhood emotional development programs. Successful applicants propose plans that take up these issues with a thoughtful, well-coordinated strategy that links all services in a more systematic and effective manner. The deadline for applications is March 14. For more information, please go to http://www.sshs.samhsa.gov/.

Also: The Department's Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS) has released the latest issue of "The Challenge" newsletter (http://www.thechallenge.org/), featuring articles on preventing school violence. And, the OSDFS-administered Emergency Response and Crisis Management Technical Center (http://rems.ed.gov/) continues to unveil new publications on school emergency management efforts.

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Imagine Nation

The Arts Education Partnership, a national coalition of arts, education, business, philanthropic, and government organizations (founded and supported by the U.S. Department of Education), has created a new web site, "The Imagine Nation," offering information and resources to support the arts in education. Among the resources are case studies from the states of Ohio and Oklahoma and the city of Dallas, where initiatives are engaging all levels of leadership and mobilizing public support for an education in and through the arts. The arts are a core academic subject under the No Child Left Behind Act. For more information, please go to http://www.theimaginenation.net/.

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Quote to Note

"The actions of the 110th Congress will affect the security and prosperity of our nation long after this session has ended. In this election year, let us show our fellow Americans that we recognize our responsibilities and are determined to meet them. Let us show them that Democrats and Republicans can compete for votes and cooperate for results at the same time."

        President George W. Bush (1/28/08),
from his 2008 State of the Union address

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Upcoming Events

DeHavilland Associates' inaugural Effective Education Partnerships Conference (July 10 and 11 in Fairfax, Virginia) is designed to bring together the various stakeholders in business-education partnerships, including businesspeople, leaders of business coalitions, educators, and others, to share case studies and practical tips on building and maintaining successful partnerships. The emphasis will be on the practical; attendees will leave the conference with a list of items to immediately apply to their local efforts. The Department's Tony Fowler, who directs the Federal Interagency Committee on Education (FICE), is among the presenters. For more information, please go to http://www.eepc2008.com/.

Over the next two weeks, the Department will be exhibiting at the National Association for Bilingual Education's Annual Conference in Tampa (February 6-9), the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education's Annual Meeting in New Orleans (February 7-10), and the American Association of School Administrators' National Conference, also in Tampa (February 14-17). If you are attending any of these events, please stop by the Department's booth.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

Please feel free to contact the Office of Communications and Outreach with any questions:
Director, Intergovernmental Affairs—Rogers Johnson, (202) 401-0026, Rogers.Johnson@ed.gov
Deputy Director—Keith Brancato, (202) 401-6178, Keith.Brancato@ed.gov
Program Analyst—Adam Honeysett, (202) 401-3003, Adam.Honeysett@ed.gov
To be added or removed from distribution, or submit comments (we welcome your feedback!), please contact Adam Honeysett. Or, visit http://www.ed.gov/news/newsletters/edreview/index.html.


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Last Modified: 02/05/2008