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February 27, 2009 ED Review
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 February 27, 2009
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ARRA Signed
ARRA Outreach
Recovery.gov
Address to Congress
FY 2010 Budget
Practice Guide: Reading
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

ARRA Signed

On February 17, in Denver, President Obama signed into law the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). "What I am signing is a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments," he said. "It is a plan that's been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending. And, it is a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability." Specifically, he continued, "We're making the largest investment in education in our nation's history" (see more below). "It's an investment that will create jobs building 21st Century classrooms and libraries and labs for millions of children across America. It will provide funds to train a new generation of math and science teachers, while giving aid to states and school districts to stop teachers from being laid off and education programs from being cut." More generally, he concluded, "Our American story is not—and has never been—about things coming easy. It is about rising to the moment when the moment is hard, converting crisis into opportunity, and seeing to it that we emerge from whatever trials we face stronger than we were before."

Back in Washington, D.C., Secretary Duncan echoed many of the President's remarks, calling the ARRA a "historic opportunity to create jobs and advance education reform." Then, two days later (February 19), he visited Explore Charter School in Brooklyn, New York. "States are hurting, and schools across America are facing catastrophic cuts," he noted. "We need to invest this money quickly, thoughtfully, and transparently to protect kids, create jobs, and drive reforms." Anticipating as many as 14,000 teacher layoffs next school year, New York City officials said the ARRA, with cooperation from the state, could avert "most" of those cuts.

The ARRA contains more than $100 billion in direct education funding for the next two fiscal years and $39 billion in bonding authority and tax credits, including:

  • $13 billion for Title I, Part A grants to states ($10 billion) and school improvement grants ($3 billion);
  • $12.2 billion for special education grants to states ($11.3 billion), preschool grants ($400 million), and grants for infants and families ($500 million);
  • $650 million for education technology grants;
  • $300 million for teacher quality, with $200 million for the Teacher Incentive Fund and $100 million for Teacher Quality Partnership Grants;
  • $70 million for the education of homeless children and youth;
  • $17.1 billion (both discretionary and mandatory funding) to increase the maximum Pell Grant by $500, to $5,350 in 2009;
  • $200 million for the Work-Study Program;
  • $60 million to help the Department administer surging student financial aid programs while navigating the evolving student loan environment;
  • $680 million for state vocational rehabilitation grants to states and independent living grants;
  • $250 million for statewide data systems;
  • $100 million for Impact Aid school construction;
  • $2.1 billion for Head Start ($1 billion) and Early Head Start ($1.1 billion) and $2 billion for child care development grants, through the Department of Health and Human Services;
  • $53.6 billion for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, of which the Secretary will reserve $4.35 billion for state incentive grants (awarding states that most aggressively pursue higher standards, quality assessments, robust data systems, and teacher quality initiatives) and $650 million for an innovation fund (awarding school districts and consortia of districts and non-profits with strong records of improving student achievement). Of the remaining funds, at least 81.8% ($39.75 billion) is committed to support K-12 and higher education (distributed through existing formulas), and up to 18.2% ($8.85 billion) is slated for public safety and other government services (which may involve education, such as K-12 and higher education facility renovation and modernization);
  • $25.2 billion in bonding authority for states and districts to issue bonds over the next 10 years for K-12 facility renovation and modernization, to be retired through a combination of local, state, and federal funds; and
  • $13.8 billion to boost the tuition tax credit from $1,800 to $2,500 (for families earning up to $180,000).

More Information. (Note: Currently, the web site offers a press release, a general fact sheet, and links to budget information, including preliminary state-by-state allocations for many formula-based ARRA programs and district-by-district allocations for the Title I program. It also offers a "video statement" by Secretary Arne Duncan. Additional information on the ARRA will be posted on the site as it becomes available.)

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ARRA Outreach

Over the last week, to kick-start ARRA implementation, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary Duncan hosted mayors, governors, and Chief State School Officers for frank discussions on the act. First, on February 20, they hosted 85 mayors in the East Room of the White House. "You're on the front line in our communities," the President asserted. "You know what happens when folks get laid off... And, as your services stretch, your classrooms get crowded, and your streets grow less safe, your budgets shrink. You cannot deficit spend, so you face impossible choices.... And that's why the recovery plan we put into action this week is so important." Then, on February 23, they hosted most of the nation's governors. "You are innovators, and much of the work that you've done has already made a lasting impact and change in people's lives," the President stated. "You shouldn't be succeeding despite Washington. You should be succeeding with a hand from Washington, and that's what we intend to give you in this administration. In return, we'll expect a lot from you as the hard work of making the recovery plan's promise a reality begins." Finally, on February 25, Vice President Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, and Secretary Duncan hosted the nation's Chief State School Officers, pledging collaboration and partnership in pursuing both recovery and reform.

Note: The next "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast, elaborating on the ARRA, is scheduled for March 17 (8:00 p.m. ET).

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Recovery.gov

The Recovery.gov web site is now live. The mission of this site is three-fold: education (explain the ARRA), transparency (show how, when, and where ARRA money is spent), and accountability (supply data that will allow citizens to evaluate the act's progress—and submit feedback). There are already projections—based on ARRA language—of the effect on jobs state-by-state. Also online is a memorandum by Peter Orszag, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, detailing to agencies what is expected of them and offering advice for how to meet high standards. Again, further information will be posted on the site as it becomes available.

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Address to Congress

Shifting his attention from reviving the economy in the short-term to restoring the economy in the long-term, President Obama highlighted education as one of three areas (along with energy and health care) "absolutely critical to our economic future" during a February 24 address to a joint session of Congress. Below are relevant excerpts:

"In a global economy, where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity—it is a pre-requisite. Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma, and yet just over half of our citizens have that level of education. We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation. And half of the students who begin college never finish. This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow. That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete, competitive education—from the day they are born to the day they begin a career."

"Already, we have made a historic investment in education through the economy recovery plan.... But, we know that our schools don't just need more resources. They need more reform. That is why this budget creates new incentives for teacher performance: pathways for advancement and rewards for success. We will invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And, we will expand our commitment to charter schools."

"It's our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But, it's the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But, whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country—and this country needs and values the talents of every American. That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a brand new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world."

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FY 2010 Budget

Yesterday (February 26), in a conference call with the media, Secretary Duncan spotlighted a number of higher education provisions in the Department's proposed Fiscal Year 2010 budget request that would dramatically expand student financial aid while making it simpler, more reliable, and more efficient. "We need to invest in our economic future and enable our kids to compete in today's global environment," he said. "The new funding announced today represents a significant expansion of our federal student aid programs, providing more dollars to allow more students to attend more schools." The provisions would:

  • Guarantee funding for the federal Pell Grant program and ensure that grant amounts would keep pace with inflation. By making funding mandatory, the Pell Grant program would no longer be subject to the discretionary budget process, would eliminate uncertainty in funding from year to year, and would ensure that the grants reflect cost of living increases. Beginning in 2010-11, the Pell Grant maximum would be indexed to the consumer price index, plus 1%, ensuring that Pell Grant awards would meet their original objective to cover a substantial percentage of college costs.

  • Make college loans reliable, stable, and efficient, eliminating the uncertainty families have experienced due to the turmoil of the financial markets. New student and parent loans would be furnished directly from the federal government through the same electronic system colleges use for Pell Grants. Taxpayers would save more than $4 billion a year in reduced entitlement subsidies, and the funds could be reinvested in more aid to students seeking a higher education.

  • Restructure and expand the federal Perkins Loan program to ensure that all institutions can take part in the program. The revised program would offer $6 billion in loans every year, a significant increase from the current $1 billion in funding. Funds would reward schools that provide more need-based aid to students and that maintain reasonable student costs relative to other schools in their sector.

Other sections of the FY 2010 budget request focus on early childhood programs, stronger standards and assessments, more effective teaching and school leadership, scaling up success, and helping students finish college.

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Practice Guide: Reading

A new practice guide from the What Works Clearinghouse, "Assisting Students with Reading: Response to Intervention (RtI) and Multi-Tier Intervention in the Primary Grades," offers five specific recommendations to help educators identify struggling readers and implement evidence-based strategies to promote their reading achievement. Teachers and other specialists can utilize these strategies to implement RtI and multi-tier intervention frameworks and methods at the classroom or school level. The suggestions cover how to screen students for reading problems, design a multi-tier intervention program, adjust instruction to help struggling readers, and monitor student progress.

Also: Speaking of reading, the National Education Association's Read Across America calls for every child, in every community, to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss.

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Quote to Note

"[Our] education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children. But, it is up to us to ensure they walk through them. In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father who will attend parent/teacher conferences, or help with homework after dinner, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, and read to their child. I speak to you not just as a President but as a father, when I say that responsibility for our children's education must begin at home."

        President Barack Obama (2/24/09), from his address to Congress

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Upcoming Events

Nominations are being accepted for the 2009 Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education. This year's award will recognize three individuals who address the connection of education and innovation in one of three broad categories: PK-12-focused school and community programs, teacher training and professional development, and policy at all levels of government. The deadline for nominations (which can be completed online) is March 20. Recipients will be honored at a dinner in New York City this fall and will each receive $25,000.

March 13-16, the Department will exhibit at the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development's Annual Conference, titled "Learning Beyond Boundaries," in Orlando, Florida. If you are attending this event, please stop by the Department's booth.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

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Program Analyst—Adam Honeysett, (202) 401-3003, Adam.Honeysett@ed.gov
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Last Modified: 06/14/2012