NEWSLETTERS
March 13, 2009 ED Review
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 March 13, 2009
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Education Reform
ARRA Outreach (Paper)
ARRA Outreach (Media)
Community Colleges
New Research
Youth Web Site
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Education Reform

On March 10, at a meeting of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, President Obama delivered the first major education speech of his presidency. "America will not remain true to its highest ideals, and America's place as a global economic leader will be put at risk, unless we not only bring down the crushing cost of health care and transform the way we use energy, but also if we do not do a far better job than we've been doing of educating our sons and daughters—unless we give them the knowledge and skills they need in this new and changing world," he said. "The source of America's prosperity has never been merely how ably we accumulate wealth but how well we educate our people.... The relative decline of American education is untenable for our economy, it's unsustainable for our democracy, it's unacceptable for our children, and we can't afford to let it continue."

The President proposed five pillars of education reform:

  • "Investing in early childhood initiatives" like Early Head Start and Head Start;
  • "Encouraging better standards and assessments" by using testing itineraries that better fit students and the world they live in;
  • "Recruiting, preparing, and rewarding outstanding teachers" with incentives for a new generation of teachers and for new levels of excellence among all teachers;
  • "Promoting innovation and excellence in America's schools" by modernizing the school calendar and the structure of the school day and supporting effective charter schools;
  • "Providing every American with a quality higher education—whether it's college or technical training."

"So, here's the bottom line," the President concluded. "Yes, we need more money. Yes, we need more reform. Yes, we need to hold ourselves more accountable for every dollar. But... no government policy will make any difference unless we also hold ourselves more accountable as parents. Because government, no matter how wise or efficient, cannot turn off the TV or put away the video games. Teachers, no matter how dedicated or effective, cannot make sure your child leaves for school on time and does their homework when they get back at night. These are things only a parent can do. These are things that our parents must do." (Note: A fact sheet expanding on the five pillars is available online.)

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ARRA Outreach (Paper)

Last weekend, Secretary Duncan announced that $44 billion in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will be available to states in the next 30-45 days. Indeed, the Department will release half the Title I, Part A aid ($5 billion) and half the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Parts B and C aid ($6.1 billion) without new applications. Also, by the end of March, governors will be able to apply for 67% ($32.6 billion) of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, with funding released within two weeks after acceptable applications are received. In addition, at least $433 million will be available under various formula-based programs, such as vocational rehabilitation ($270 million), independent living ($53 million), education for homeless children and youth ($70 million), and Impact Aid school construction ($40 million). A second round of Title I, IDEA, and State Fiscal Stabilization Fund aid, as well as funding for other ARRA programs, will be distributed between July 1 and September 30.

Seeking information on a particular ARRA program? The Department has released initial guidance for:

  • Title I, Part A grants to school districts;
  • IDEA, Part B grants to states and preschool grants; and
  • the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.
  • Other ARRA program guidance and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are under development.

    Keep in mind, $5 billion of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund has been reserved for the Secretary. This includes a $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" fund to help drive significant gains in student achievement by supporting states making substantial progress on four key reform goals: developing rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable for all students; establishing preschool to college and career data systems that track progress and foster continuous improvement; making improvements in teacher effectiveness and in the equitable distribution of qualified teachers for all students; and providing intensive support and positive interventions for the lowest-performing schools. This also includes a $650 million "Invest in What Works and Innovation" fund to help districts and non-profit organizations with a strong track record of results. Applications for these competitive grants will be posted expeditiously. The Race to the Top grants will be made in two rounds: fall 2009 and spring 2010.

    Note: Don't want to miss a thing? Get ED ARRA news online or by subscribing to the ED ARRA RSS feed. If you are interested in other ED news and resources (in addition to the ARRA), subscribe to the ED RSS feed or track ED on Twitter.

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    ARRA Outreach (Media)

    Featuring a taped interview with Secretary Duncan, the next "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast (March 17, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET) will highlight the ARRA, its potential to save and create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and its promise for generating urgently needed reform in schools across the country. Today, the nation is facing a severe economic crisis: the economy is losing half a million jobs each month, consumer credit is frozen, purchasing power is in decline, and, as a direct result, tax revenues for state and local governments are falling at an alarming rate. With states required to balance budgets and with education accounting for the largest component of state government expenditures, budget deficits threaten massive cuts in education funding to districts. In fact, a study commissioned by the University of Washington finds that the downturn could result in states cutting over 15% of their education spending—an $80 billion drop that could eliminate up to 600,000 jobs in the field. With the passage of the ARRA, President Obama and Congress have taken steps to protect the future of our children and lay the foundation for a generation of reform. This one-time, two-year investment represents the single largest boost in education funding in U.S. history—comparable to the G.I. Bill that sent so many young World War II veterans on to college. (You can watch archived webcasts online.)

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    Community Colleges

    On March 6, Secretary Duncan and Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, held a panel discussion at Miami Dade College to exchange ideas on improving the nation's higher education system and the importance of community colleges in job creation. They also talked about how ARRA funds will help make college more affordable for families. "As a community college professor [at Northern Virginia Community College], I can see first-hand the significant and critical role that community colleges play in educating students and preparing them for a fiercely competitive workforce," Dr. Biden emphasized. "Community colleges will no doubt play an increasingly important role in restoring the economy over the coming years by training Americans for jobs of the future in affordable and accessible ways." Of the $30.8 billion in the ARRA for higher education, $17 billion will be used to close the shortfall within the Pell Grant program and boost grant amounts by $500 to $5,350 in the first year. Such an increase in aid will benefit low-income students who are disproportionately represented at community colleges. Also, changes in the American Opportunity Tax Credit will provide relief to more families struggling to pay for college. This education tax credit will make the cost of tuition and fees at community college virtually free for many students—covering up to $2,500 of college expenses.

    Also: Yesterday (March 11), the Secretary testified before the House Budget Committee on the President's Fiscal Year 2010 budget request, including the President's proposals to transform higher education.

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    New Research

    Check out these new resources from the Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES):

    • "Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2006-07." Some findings? Approximately $555.3 billion was collected in revenues for public K-12 education in the 50 states and the District of Columbia in Fiscal Year 2007. The federal government's contribution was $47 billion, or 8.5% of all revenues. Current expenditures totaled $476.8 billion, and current expenditures per student was $9,683.
    • "Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2007; Graduation Rates, 2001 and 2004 Cohorts; and Financial Statistics, Fiscal Year 2007." Some findings? In fall 2007, institutions in the U.S. enrolled a total of 18.7 million undergraduate and graduate students—62% in four-year colleges, 36% in two-year colleges, and 2% in less-than-two-year colleges. Approximately 57% of full-time, first-time bachelor's or equivalent degree-seekers attending four-year colleges completed their degree at the college where they began their studies within six years. During the 2006-07 academic year, 73% of the 2.8 million full-time, first-time degree-seekers attending institutions located in the U.S. received financial aid.
    • "Mini Digest of Education Statistics: 2008." This is a pocket-sized compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education from kindergarten through graduate school. The statistical notes are excerpts from the "Digest of Education of Statistics: 2008."

    Also: The latest Achiever newsletter spotlights a Norfolk, Virginia, elementary school—whose white and African-American student enrollments are nearly equal—that has eliminated the academic achievement gap, with 99% of black students and 94% of white students reading at or above grade level.

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    Youth Web Site

    A new federal web site provides interactive tools and other resources to help community organizations and partnerships in their efforts to support youth. While on the site, developed through the coordination of 12 federal agencies, a user can learn about the critical elements of effective youth partnerships, generate maps of local and federal youth programs, and search a database of evidence-based programs to deal with risk and protective factors in youth. This spring, the site will add on tools for strategic planning.

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    Quote to Note

    "It's the founding promise of our nation: that we can make of our lives what we will; that all things are possible for all people; and that, here in America, our best days lie ahead. I believe that. I truly believe if I do my part, and you, the American people, do yours, then we will emerge from this crisis a stronger nation, and pass the dream of our founding on to posterity, ever safer than before."

            President Barack Obama (3/10/09), in remarks before the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

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    Upcoming Events

    The next Scientific Evidence in Education (SEE) forum is scheduled for March 24 (12:00-1:45 p.m. ET) at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The topic? New research on four popular elementary school math curricula. The forums are free, but space is limited, so register in advance online.

    The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based organization that supports education entrepreneurship, is accepting applications for the third cohort of its fellowship program—which affords individuals with the opportunity to develop and launch initiatives to transform public education. Fellows receive an annual salary of $90,000 for two years, benefits, and customized training. Fellows who opt to live in Indianapolis will also receive office space. Applications, with a statement of intent, are due July 31. Fellowships will be awarded by November 20.

    Next week, the Department will exhibit at the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute's National Conference in Chicago (March 17-21) and the National Science Teachers Association's National Conference on Science Education in New Orleans (March 19-22). If you are attending either 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:
    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.


    This newsletter contains hypertext links to information created and maintained by other public and private organizations. These links are provided for the user's convenience. The U.S. Department of Education does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this outside information. Furthermore, the inclusion of links is not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered, on these sites, or the organizations sponsoring the sites.

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    Last Modified: 03/13/2009