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March 4, 2011 ED Review
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 March 4, 2011
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Meeting with Governors
Visiting Capitol Hill
Event Log
Commencement Challenge
NAEP 2009: Science Assessment
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Meeting with Governors

Last weekend, President Obama, Secretary Duncan, and other members of the Administration met with the nation's governors, assembled in Washington, D.C., for a meeting of the National Governors Association, with education a key focus of conversation. "On education, our approach has been to partner with you," the President noted at a session at the White House, "to offer more flexibility in exchange for better standards; to lift the cap on charter schools; to spur reform not by imposing it from Washington but by asking you to come up with some of the best ways for your states to succeed. That was the idea behind Race to the Top: you show us the best plans for reform; we'll show you the money." Also, he continued, "We're working with you and with Congress to fix No Child Left Behind with a focus on reform, responsibility, and, most importantly, results. And, we're trying to give states and schools more flexibility to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad teachers, because we know that the single most important factor in a child's success—other than their parents—is the man or woman at the front of the classroom." In the end, he concluded, "Even as we preserve the freedom and diversity that is at the heart of federalism, let's remember that we are one nation. We are one people. Our economy is national. Our fates are intertwined. Today, we're not competing with each other; we're competing with other nations that are hungry to win new jobs, hungry to win new industries. I'm confident we will win this competition as long as we're fighting it together."

Also, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden spoke to governors about supporting military families. "[In March], we are going to be launching a campaign to rally this country... to support not just our troops but their families," the First Lady said. "We're focusing on four main areas: employment, education, wellness, and public awareness.

Earlier, the Secretary addressed a meeting of the governors' Education, Early Childhood, and Workforce Committee. He discussed the urgency to fix the No Child Left Behind Act. He also acknowledged the budgetary constraints state governments are facing and promised to provide written materials giving states direction on how they can use federal education funding—across programs—in more flexible ways, examples of effective cost-savings techniques, and guidance on how to get more productivity out of schools.

More recently, the Secretary joined a group of moderate Democratic Senators, who released a set of principles for moving forward on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) this year. "We can't begin to micromanage 95,000 schools from Washington, and we don't want to," he asserted. Frankly, we want to reduce the federal footprint."

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Visiting Capitol Hill

On March 1, Secretary Duncan testified before the Senate Budget Committee regarding the President's Fiscal Year 2012 budget proposal. He explained that the proposed budget reflects the Administration's dual commitment to not only reduce spending and increase efficiency but also to make smart investments in securing America's future. "Today, all across America, people are meeting the challenge of improving education in many different ways," he said, "from creating high-quality early learning programs to raising standards, strengthening the field of teaching, and aggressively attacking achievement gaps. While the federal government contributes less than 10% of K-12 funding, nationwide, our money plays a critical role in promoting equity, protecting children at risk, and, recently, supporting reform activities at the state and local level." To recap, the Administration's 2012 investments in education are divided into five priorities: early learning, sustaining K-12 reform, great teachers and leaders, college completion, and full support for at-risk students and adults.

The Administration has been actively guiding high-need rural school leaders to federal resources that exist outside of education.

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Event Log

The Secretary has literally traveled across the country during the past two weeks:

  • On February 18, he was in Los Angeles to participate in a TEACH Campaign roundtable with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, artist John Legend, boxer Oscar de la Hoya, and about 400 students and 100 stakeholders and play in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.
  • On February 26, he was back in Washington, D.C., on the campus of Howard University, for the "Voices in Action: National Youth Summit." The summit assembled nearly 400 students, education policymakers, and Administration officials in breakout sessions and workshops to identify what schools and communities need to best prepare students for college and career. All the work was organized around five "themes" raised during last year's National Youth Listening Tour: effective teaching, college information gaps, parental involvement, community mentors, and school climate and discipline.
  • On February 28, he was in Philadelphia to tour, with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, the 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund's Learning Center—a labor-management partnership that provides job skills training in the health fields to more than 2,000 adult students annually—and participate in a town hall forum at the Department's first Community College Regional Summit. The summit, on the campus of the Community College of Philadelphia, specifically focused on transitioning adult learners to community colleges and the workforce. Subsequent summits will focus on transfer programs, partnerships between community colleges and employers, and exemplary programs for veterans, military members, and families.
  • On March 2, he joined First Lady Michelle Obama, National Education Association (NEA) President Dennis Van Roekel, and celebrities to read to hundreds of elementary school students at the NEA's 14th annual Read Across America Day, honoring the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss, at the Library of Congress.

Also: Today (March 4), President Obama and Secretary Duncan will travel to Miami to deliver remarks on the importance of out-educating the competition at Miami Central Senior High School.

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Commencement Challenge

The application deadline for the 2011 Race to the Top Commencement Challenge has been extended to March 11—at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. Also, the application has been streamlined. Schools must submit answers to three short essay questions and readily available student achievement data, illustrating how they are promoting college- and career-readiness while establishing a culture of student success and academic excellence. The winning school will host President Obama as their 2011 commencement speaker. Senior Administration officials will attend the commencements of the runner-up schools.

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NAEP 2009: Science Assessment

The Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) Science 2009 describes results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in science for 17 participating urban districts from across the U.S. Representative samples, of between 900 and 2,200 fourth- and eighth-grade public school students, were assessed in each of the districts. Among the results:

  • At grade 4, the average scores in large cities overall and 14 of the 17 districts were lower than the average score for the nation. Scores for Austin, Charlotte, and Jefferson County [KY] were not significantly different from the score for the nation.
  • At grade 8, the average scores in large cities overall and 16 of the 17 districts were lower than the average score for the nation. Austin's score was not significantly different from the score for the nation.
  • Four of the 17 districts—Austin, Charlotte, Jefferson County, and Miami-Dade—had higher scores at both grades than large cities nationally. Boston and San Diego had higher scores at grade 4, while Houston had a higher score at grade 8. Eight of the 17 districts had lower scores at both grades than large cities nationally.
  • There was also good news related to the performance of some racial/ethnic groups in several districts.

NAEP is administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). TUDA reading and math results were released last year. The science framework was recently updated to incorporate new advances in science, research on science learning, and components from international science assessments, so 2009 results cannot be compared to those from previous years. (Note: Secretary Duncan's statement on the TUDA results, noting students in cities are further behind in science than reading and math, is available online.)

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Odds and Ends

  • Teacher Ambassador Fellow Laurie Calvert has created a teacher landing page on the Department's web site, where teachers can "find all things teacher."

  • Eight states have been approved to receive fiscal 2010 funding to turn around their persistently lowest-achieving schools, under the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program.

  • The Department's Promise Neighborhoods team has issued The Neighborhood Watch newsletter, including program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), funding opportunities, and promising practices.

  • On a March 2 conference call with stakeholders, First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary Duncan, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack talked about advancing the "Let's Move!" initiative goal of doubling the number of schools participating in Agriculture's HealthierUS School Challenge Program.

  • Last year, the Department's Early Childhood Educator Professional Development program convened a national summit to identify and report out on emerging and critical gaps in knowledge and research on effective professional development for early childhood educators.

  • A National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) report, "Arts Education in America: What the Declines Mean for Arts Participation," explores the relationship between arts education and arts participation, as well as declines in Americans' reported rates of arts learning—in writing, music, and the visual arts, among other disciplines.

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Quote to Note

"I don't think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon. We need to attract the best and the brightest to public service. These times demand it. We're not going to attract the best teachers for our children, for example, if they only make a fraction of what other professionals make. And we're not going to convince the bravest Americans to put their lives on the line as police officers or firefighters if we don't properly reward that bravery."

        President Barack Obama (2/28/11), addressing the nation's governors at the White House

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Upcoming Events

On March 10, the White House will host the Conference on Bullying Prevention. Participants will have the opportunity to talk with the President and senior Administration officials about how communities can work together to prevent bullying. The conference is by invitation only, but anyone can watch it through a live stream on the White House web site.

On March 19, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. ET, Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss will participate in a plenary session at the annual Celebration of Teaching and Learning in New York City. During this session, which will be webcast, six educators will discuss best practices regarding recruitment, preparation, development, retention, evaluation, compensation, and engagement of world-class teachers. The conference follows the International Summit on the Teaching Profession.

In April and May, the Department's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) is planning capacity-building conferences on successfully implementing SIG.

Over the next two weeks, the Department will exhibit at the National Science Teachers Association's Conference in San Francisco (March 10-13), the National Coalition of ESEA Title I Parents Region V Professional Development Conference in Oak Brook, Illinois (March 16-20), and the National Art Education Association's Convention in Seattle (March 17-20). If you are attending any of these events, please stop by the Department's booth.

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Please feel free to contact the Office of Communications and Outreach with any questions:
Director, Intergovernmental Affairs—Stacey Jordan, (202) 401-0026, Stacey.Jordan@ed.gov
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Last Modified: 03/11/2011