FY 2009 Budget
Closing the Expectations Gap
Quote to Note
FY 2009 Budget
On February 26, Secretary Spellings testified before the House of Representatives' Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations Subcommittee on the President's Fiscal Year 2009 budget for education. "Everywhere I go, I've been talking with educators and policymakers," she explained, referring to her ongoing trips to states for roundtables. (Recently, she visited Kansas [2/20], Missouri [2/21], Oklahoma [2/28], and Texas [2/29].) "They are deservedly proud that student achievement is rising under No Child Left Behind and that performance gaps between poor and minority students are closing. In addition, all share common challenges. These are the priority investments in the President's budget request." For each of these common challenges, the Secretary outlined funding increases or new initiatives:
Strengthening Instruction. "One thing we know for sure is that we will not be successful in education until every child can read," she said. "Reading opens the door to every other subject and is a critical foundation for all other learning. That's why I'm pleased that the President's budget restores funding for the Reading First program to $1 billion, the level [Congress] supported for five years."
Improving Struggling Schools. "The fact that just 2% of schools are chronic underperformers [missing annual targets for five or more years] does not seem wildly overstated, particularly when you consider that only half of minority students graduate from high school on time," she stressed. "Our budget provides nearly $500 million in school improvement grants. It raises Title I funding for high-poverty schools by $406 million. It more than doubles the size of the Teacher Incentive Fund by providing $200 million to attract our most effective teachers to work in our neediest schools and reward them for results. And, it provides additional funds for students who need extra help, including an increase of nearly $5 billion since 2001 for students with disabilities and an increase of $30 million over the last year for those with limited English skills."
Making College More Accessible and Affordable. "All of us know that making a college education more affordable is a real concern for students and families," she said. "I'm pleased our budget raises the Pell grant award to $4,800 this year, the largest amount ever. However, as we work to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, we must remember that more money is not the only answer to questions of access and affordability. We must also curb the dramatic rise of tuition and streamline the financial aid process."
The Secretary is scheduled to testify before the Senate's appropriations subcommittee in mid-April. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/02/02262008.html.
Also on February 26, President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush launched the National Endowment for the Humanities' (NEH) Picturing America initiative at the White House. As noted in the last issue, Picturing America is designed to promote the study, teaching, and understanding of American history and culture by introducing students and the general public to 40 of America's greatest art treasures. "Today, we invite all schools and libraries to apply for this collectionthat means public, private, parochial, and charter schools, home school consortia, and community libraries," the First Lady said in the East Room, home to a portrait by one of the artists in the series: Gilbert Stuart. "The collection is made up of images that capture important moments in American life and present them through painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, and decorative arts. The goal is to share the American experience with a wide audiencechildren and adults from our largest cities to our most rural communities." Participants will receive a free set of high-quality reproductions of the art (approximately 24" x 36") and an illustrated teacher resource book with notes for all grade levels. And, NEH has created a new web site that anyone can visit to see the images and share their impressions. For fall 2008, applications must be received by April 15. For more information, please go to http://picturingamerica.neh.gov/.
The next "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast (March 18, 8:00-9:00 ET) will feature the work of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, highlighting the panel's final report (expected on March 13) and how the panel's findings will lead to more effective math instruction for all students. For nearly two years, with a clear focus on the preparation of students for entry into and success in algebra, panel members have examined the scientific evidence in five core areas: conceptual knowledge and skills, learning processes, instructional practices and materials, assessments, and teachers and teacher education. In a related vein, the broadcast will also spotlight what the Department and other partners are doing to promote math and science literacy under the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and showcase the work of high-performing schools from across the U.S. that are excelling in math education and essentially implementing the panel's recommendations. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/edtv/. (You can watch archived webcasts at http://www.connectlive.com/events/ednews/.)
Closing the Expectations Gap
According to the third annual report from Achieve, a bipartisan, non-profit organization founded by the nation's governors and business leaders during the 1996 National Education Summit, states have made significant progress in aligning academic standards with postsecondary and workplace expectations and raising graduation requirements. Indeed, 19 states report making their high school standards rigorous enough so that they reflect the expectations of colleges and employers (up from eight a year ago), and 26 are in the process of aligning or plan to do so. Also, 18 states and the District of Columbia require students to complete four years of English and four years of math (at least through Algebra II) to earn a diploma (up from 12 a year ago), and 12 are expected to follow suit. On the other hand, only nine states administer college readiness tests to all high school students, only eight states have longitudinal data systems that can track students from pre-kindergarten through college graduation, and only four states hold high schools accountable for the college readiness of their graduates. No state will have all five policies (alignment of standards, graduation requirements, assessments, data systems, and accountability) in place in 2008, and only three have four of the policies in place. Moreover, 19 states do not have any of the policies in place. For more information, please go to http://www.achieve.org/node/990.
Secretary Spellings has named Doug Mesecar the new Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Department's Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII). Mesecar has served in various positions across the agency, most recently as Acting Assistant Secretary in the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development until Bill Evers' Senate confirmation in October 2007. Before rejoining the Department in February 2007, he served as Director of Government Relations for Edison Schools. He has also worked on Capitol Hill, as a staff member to the House Education and Workforce Committee as it drafted the No Child Left Behind Act and Director of the Education Reform Caucus. OII coordinates implementation of the public school choice and supplemental educational services provisions of No Child Left Behind as well as oversees the administration of approximately 28 grant programs, including the Public Charter School Program. OII also serves as the "nimble, entrepreneurial arm" of this agency, supporting education innovation and investing in promising educational practices. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/02/02192008.html.
This week, the National Center on Performance Incentives, funded by the Department's Institute of Education Sciences (IES), brought together more than 20 scholars from multiple disciplines to debate the strengths and weaknesses of pay for performance policies. The goal of the conference is neither to endorse nor oppose performance incentives but explore all sides of the issue. The conference papers are online. Video of portions of the conference will be posted online shortly. For more information, please go to http://www.performanceincentives.org/conference/.
Quote to Note
"All of us agree that in today's competitive world, developing human capital is a top priority. We also know that we have limited resources to invest and that our primary role at the federal level has always been to serve our neediest students, such as those from low-income families, those with disabilities, and those learning English as a second language. Accordingly, we must ensure that taxpayer dollars are allocated in the most effective and efficient ways."
|||Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (2/26/08),
testifying on the President's FY 2009 budget for education
Starting next month, the Department's Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and OII will be conducting regional summits to highlight educational innovations. These meetings aim to empower community leaders and parents with ideas, information, and successful models that can be replicated elsewhere. A Southeast summit (Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) is scheduled for March 11 in Columbia (SC), and a Northeast summit (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) is scheduled for March 13 in Newark (NJ). The summits are free, but parties must register online in advance of the meeting. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/about/inits/list/fbci/suppserv-workshops.html.
The American Institutes for Research's new Scientific Evidence in Education (SEE) forums, funded by IES, will review and discuss scientific evidence on key topics in education in an accessible and non-technical manner. The first SEE forum, on resources for English language learners, is scheduled for March 5 (3:30-5:00 ET) at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The forums are free, but space is limited, so be sure to register in advance online. For more information, please go to http://www.seeforums.org/.
This year, MetLife Foundation's Ambassadors in Education Award (run by the National Civic League) will honor middle and high school principals in 25 major cities who are building partnerships and communicating beyond their schools for the betterment of the entire community. (Each year, the award alternates between teachers and principals.) Nominations are due by March 7. Each winner earns a $5,000 grant for their school to help it continue building community networks. For more information, please go to http://www.ncl.org/metlife/.
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