By Alyson Klein
Back in February, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan went on CBS’ “Face the Nation” and warned that school districts could be forced to cut 40,000 teacher jobs, thanks to a series of across-the-board federal budget cuts known as sequestration.
At the time, Duncan got his head handed to him by the national media, including the White House press corps. Reporters pointed out that there were no massive layoffs in the offing—and the department explained that school districts typically don’t begin their budgets for the next school year until the spring. The cuts, which were slated to hit at the start of the next school year, would likely be bad for districts, the administration argued, but February was too early to know the full impact on K-12 education.
via Arne Duncan: Fewer Layoffs Than Expected, But Sequestration Still ‘Heartbreaking’ – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Lillian Mongeau
Securing bipartisan support for the president’s $75 billion proposal to expand public preschool continues to be a challenge, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Wednesday on a media panel on early childhood education moderated by EdSource Today reporter Lillian Mongeau.
Duncan said he is meeting with Republican lawmakers as well as Republican governors and local school boards in an effort to convince conservatives that spending on the $75 billion plan is an investment that will pay dividends. The program, paid in part through an increase on the federal tobacco tax, would allow states to provide more preschool options for low-income families.
via Duncan: Bipartisan support elusive for Obama’s proposal to expand preschool | EdSource Today.
President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan again appealed to Congress to come up with the money to pay for more counselors, social workers, and psychologists in schools during a national conference on mental health at the White House on today.
Obama promised to launch a “national conversation” on mental health after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. in December.
via Obama Presses for Mental-Health Care for Students, Cutting Its Stigma.
By John Fensterwald
California remains interested in receiving a waiver from sanctions under the No Child Left Behind law, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Wednesday it remains possible for the state to get one. But, Duncan said in an interview after an event in Sunnyvale, “It’s late in the game” to apply for a state waiver to take effect this fall. (Go here for the transcript of the interview.)
Duncan wasn’t more forthcoming about a deadline or the odds that the state would get a waiver, but he was clear about leaving the door open for California – one of only a half-dozen states without an application either approved or pending in Washington.
via Duncan says it’s still possible for state to get NCLB waiver – by John Fensterwald.
SAN FRANCISCO – Secretary of Education Arne Duncan acknowledged serious flaws in the standardized tests that currently drive American schools, telling an audience of education researchers on Tuesday that the tests are an inadequate gauge of student and teacher performance.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Duncan criticized “high-stakes testing where children’s lives or teachers’ careers are based on one test,” but he said that abandoning standardized testing was not the answer. He listed a series of misguided uses of standardized tests, mentioning a school in Florida that evaluated teachers in kindergarten through second grade based on how students performed in third and fourth grade, and a school in Memphis that evaluated art teachers based on student scores in math and English.
via Duncan admits flaws in current standardized testing – by Jane Meredith Adams.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says he thinks the time has come for a sweeping expansion of early-childhood education programs, like the one that President Barack Obama outlined in his State of the Union speech. And he’s hoping to get as many states as possible on board.
“The average child from a disadvantaged country comes to school a year to a year and half behind,” Duncan told reporters during a round table discussion Monday in which he made a sales pitch for the program, which faces long odds on Capitol Hill in an austere federal budget year. “Politicians are used to thinking short term. This is the ultimate long-term play.”
via Arne Duncan Makes Pitch to Expand Early-Childhood Education.
The Obama administration has been a big fan of using competitive grants to drive its agenda on everything from teacher quality to standards to “personalized learning,” much to the chagrin of some advocates for school districts.
So far, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have resisted that strategy. But Democrats in the U.S. Senate have continued to finance the administration’s favorite competitive-grant programs, such as Race to the Top, although not always at the level the administration has sought.
via Senators to Arne Duncan: Stop Flat-Funding Key K-12 Programs.
U.S.Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has come under fire for the way he’s described the impact of sequestration at the school-district level—particularly for his comment on CBS’ Face the Nation, in which he said that “pink slips” were already going out and that 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs. (Job reductions are possible, but it will really depend on local implementation.) That estimate earned him a rebuke from key Republican senators, in a letter sent to Duncan last week.
via Arne Duncan’s Latest on How Sequestration Will Squeeze Schools.
The blog IDEA Money Watch compiled information released by the U.S. Department of Education and created a nice chart that spells out how much each state stands to lose in federal funding for special education, should the sequester cuts stay in place.
States received about $11.5 billion in Part B funds for fiscal year 2012—Part B refers to the special education dollars that are used to educate students ages 5 to 21. The numbers in this chart assume a 5 percent reduction in funding for fiscal 2013. As explained in my colleague Alyson Klein’s excellent piece on frequently asked sequester questions, the sequester doesn’t mean that states will immediately start to feel the pinch, because the money has been “forward-funded.” Any budget impact would start to be felt more in the 2013-14 school year.
via IDEA Sequester Cuts, By The Numbers.
Today is the day that those automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that have been coming since August 2011 are finally set to kick in. And U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been a chief spokesman for the administration on the impact of the cuts on domestic programs—and landed in some pretty hot water with fact checkers.
Earlier this week, the White House put out job loss estimates, including for K-12 schools, and Duncan backed them up on Sunday’s political talk shows. However, it’s really too early to know exactly how many layoffs, furloughs, or programmatic cuts will result from sequestration (which would represent the largest cut to federal K-12 aid in recent history). School districts—not to mention states, and the federal government—are still hammering out their spending plans for this year. Schools don’t typically send out Reduction in Force (RIF) notices until March or April.
via Arne Duncan Stands Firm: Sequester Would Squeeze Schools.
By Kathryn Baron and John Fensterwald
A collaborative of nine California school districts is submitting today a first-of-its-kind waiver seeking relief from the harshest sanctions of the No Child Left Behind law. The proposal would commit the participating districts to a new accountability system, focusing on student achievement but deemphasizing standardized test scores. The existing requirements and penalties would remain in effect for all of the other districts in the state.
If U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan consents, the districts in the California Office to Reform Education, or CORE, would join the 34 states and Washington, D.C., with waivers from NCLB; ten more states have applications pending. Since California’s waiver was rejected last year, and the state is not reapplying this year, CORE is going its own way, filing for a waiver under a provision of NCLB allowing districts to submit proposals. State Board of Education President Michael Kirst said Tuesday that he has read the law and agrees that Duncan has the authority to grant waivers to districts.
via Nine districts submit waiver for relief from NCLB – by Kathryn Baron and John Fensterwald.
Attendance Works Director Hedy Chang will be honored by the White House on today (2/26) for her leadership in promoting educational opportunities for African-American students, one of 10 leaders who are being named Champions of Change. Since chronic absence disproportionately affects children of color, Chang’s work to improve the policy and practice around school attendance can especially benefit educational opportunities for African-American students.
“President Obama has made providing a complete and competitive education for all Americans – from cradle to career – a top priority,” said Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett in a White House press release. “That’s why, last summer, he signed an executive order to establish the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. This week, we look forward to welcoming Champions of Change who have been working to ensure that all African American students receive an education that fully prepares them for high school graduation, college completion, and productive careers.”
via White House Names Hedy Chang “Champion of Change”.
School districts all around the country are bracing for an across-the-board cut in federal funds, set to go into effect on Friday, unless lawmakers and the Obama administration are able to come to some kind of agreement to head them off. The cuts would impact just about every federal program under the sun, from the U.S. Department of Education to the Pentagon and the Justice Department.
Ever since the threat of cuts were put in place to prod a long-term deficit reducation deal, education advocates and some lawmakers—such as U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the panel that oversees K-12 spending— have been trying to draw attention to how they would effect education, which hasn’t grabbed as many headlines as say, the military.
via White House Estimates Impact of Across-the-Board Cuts by State.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan continues to send strong signals that he may grant tailored, district-level waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act in states that have not already won this flexibility.
In a wide-ranging, hourlong interview today with a small group of national reporters, Duncan said he met with some of the “CORE” California superintendents yesterday to discuss their waiver request—as my colleague Lesli Maxwell reported yesterday. The CORE is a group of 10 districts, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, that are moving ahead with reforms their state is slow to embrace (such as the common core and new teacher evaluations). Duncan reiterated in today’s interview that his preference is to work with states, especially as the Feb. 28 deadline for the fourth-round of state applications looms.
via Arne Duncan On NCLB Waivers, Sequestration, Common Core.
By Kathryn Baron
Superintendents representing a coalition of 10 California school districts are scheduled to meet with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan today to make a personal pitch for a district waiver from provisions of No Child Left Behind, which they plan to formally submit next week.
February 28 is the deadline for the handful of remaining states that don’t already have a waiver approved or pending to apply for relief from some of the most punitive aspects of the federal education law in exchange for developing their own accountability systems. Duncan rejected California’s waiver application after the state applied under a different section of federal law rather than agree to conditio
via Superintendents in D.C. to talk district waiver with Duncan – by Kathryn Baron.
A federally appointed education-equity commission is proposing a five-pronged agenda for states and the federal government to help the 22 percent of children living in poverty and eliminate what the commission calls a “staggering” achievement gap.
Three years in the making, the new report released today stems from a 2010 congressional directive to the U.S. Department of Education, which created the Equity and Excellence Commission. The report, called “For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence”, makes recommendations in a number of areas:
via Federal Commission Urges Bold Steps to Boost Education Equity.
Education advocates are pushing Congress to head off a series of automatic, across-the-board cuts set to hit just about every federal agency, including the U.S. Department of Education, on March 1, unless lawmakers come up with some sort of plan to stop them. The Non-Defense Discretionary Coalition today sent a letter to every member of Congress asking them to, please, come up with another solution for deficit-reduction.
The group represents 3,200 organizations, including a number of K-12 education groups, some of which don’t usually see eye-to-eye on policy, including Fair Test and the Education Trust. There also are hundreds of environmental, justice, health, and science organizations on the list.
via Education Advocates to Congress: Stop the Sequestration Cuts.
For the second time in recent weeks, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today attended an event aimed at promoting gun control measures in the wake of the massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last December.
Duncan, who had a long record on gun control issues before joining the Obama administration, stood at a news conference on Capitol Hill with a group of mayors and college presidents—all of whom are pushing, in some capacity, for gun control measures.
via Arne Duncan, Mayors, College Groups Push Gun Control.
High profile lawmakers on the House Education and the Workforce Committee—including Rep. John Kline, the chairman of the panel—are pressing the administration for way more detail on its school safety proposals, which were rolled out in record time earlier this month and are aimed at preventing another massacre like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last month. You can check out the proposals here.
via Kline Seeks More Detail on Obama’s School Safety Proposals.
After four years in office, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan still hasn’t won over local school board members.
But he keeps coming back, year after year, to tangle with members of the National School Boards Association during their federal meeting in Washington.
In remarks yesterday, he laid out the four tenets of his second-term agenda: more money to expand access to high-quality early education for disadvantaged children, reauthorizing No Child Left Behind (and following through on waivers), making good on President Obama’s goal to lead the world in college completion by 2020, and passing gun control legislation in the wake of the Newtown shootings.
via School Board Members to Arne Duncan: Back Off.