Education Week : Arne Duncan Eyes NCLB Waiver for Handful of Calif. Districts

The U.S. Department of Education is giving serious consideration to offering a special, district-level waiver from the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act to just a handful of districts in California.

So far, 34 states and the District of Columbia have been approved for waivers that allow them to get out from under key mandates of the NCLB law in exchange for embracing department priorities, such as measuring teacher effectiveness based in part on student outcomes.

via Arne Duncan Eyes NCLB Waiver for Handful of Calif. Districts.

Education Week: Arne Duncan Calls for Tighter Gun Control In Wake of Newtown Shootings

Washington

In his first public appearance since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called on the nation to tighten gun control laws, improve access to mental health, and curb the glorification of violence in movies and video games.

“Are we doing enough to keep children safe from harm? I don’t think so, and neither does President Obama,” Duncan said in remarks at Neval Thomas Elementary School in Washington.

via Arne Duncan Calls for Tighter Gun Control In Wake of Newtown Shootings.

Education Week: Arne Duncan Named to White House Task Force After School Shootings

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been tapped—along with other cabinet officials—to serve on a White House task force that will examine gun violence, mental health services, and other policies related to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last week.

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the panel will be different from other, similar, Washington panels in that it has a very tight time frame for completing its work. The group, which will be led by Vice President Joe Biden, will present its recommendations to Obama in January, in time for the president’s State of the Union address. Then, Obama will work with Congress to make the panel’s ideas a reality.

via Arne Duncan Named to White House Task Force After School Shootings.

Education Week: Arne Duncan Picks 16 Race to Top District Winners

Sixteen winners—including three charter school organizations—will share $400 million in the Race to the Top district competition, the U.S. Department of Education announced today.

Traditional districts such as Carson City, Nev., Guilford County, N.C., and New Haven Unified, Calif., also are sharing the prize, as are two large consortia of school districts in Kentucky and Washington state.

Miami-Dade is the biggest urban district on the list, having just won the coveted Broad Prize this year.

via Arne Duncan Picks 16 Race to Top District Winners.

Education Week: Ed. Dept. Emphasizes Graduation-Rate Accountability in Letter to States

In the face of continued criticism that the federal Education Department is allowing states to weaken graduation-rate accountability, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent a letter to states reinforcing that high school completion must be a significant part of accountability systems under No Child Left Behind Act waivers.

Duncan, in a “dear colleague” letter sent Monday to chief state school officers, emphasizes that he is not waiving the 2008 regulations that required states to calculate graduation rates in the same way and use that data as a “significant” factor in accountability.

via Ed. Dept. Emphasizes Graduation-Rate Accountability in Letter to States.

Education Week: Duncan Sharpens Second-Term Agenda, Stresses Teacher Quality

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan continued to lay out his priorities for the next four years in a speech today, emphasizing that he thinks teacher preparation is broken and that the best educators need to be teaching the highest-need children.

In remarks at the two-day forum in Washington of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, run by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Duncan said he has an “ambitious” second-term agenda that includes holding the line on initiatives he started during his first four years. He cited specifically the tough road ahead for common standards, common tests, and teacher evaluations.

via Duncan Sharpens Second-Term Agenda, Stresses Teacher Quality.

Education Week: Ed. Dept. Analysis Paints Mixed Picture of SIG Program

Two-thirds of chronically underperforming schools that tapped into a big new infusion of cash under the federal School Improvement Grant program made gains in math or reading, but another third saw student achievement decline in their first academic year, according to an analysis by the U.S. Department of Education.

A quarter, or slightly more, of the schools in the program had seen their student progress slip before they got the grant, then saw gains after they received SIG funding, the analysis found.

via Ed. Dept. Analysis Paints Mixed Picture of SIG Program.

Education Week: Duncan Sketches Out Second-Term Agenda

Savannah, Ga.

In his first major postelection remarks, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that he will use his second term to continue to leverage education improvement at the state and local levels, with a new emphasis on principal preparation and evaluation. And, he made clear that if Congress isn’t serious about reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, of which the No Chid Left Behind Act is the current version, then his department won’t devote a lot of energy to it.

Duncan used his remarks today to the Council of Chief State School Officers to emphasize that his second term as President Barack Obama’s education chief will focus on fine-tuning the work started during the first term.

via Duncan Sketches Out Second-Term Agenda.

Education Week: Miller to Duncan: Waivers May Offer Too Much Leeway On Grad Rates

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Education committee, is worried that the department isn’t holding states’ feet to the fire when it comes to monitoring graduation rates in states that have received waivers from parts of the No Child Left Behind Act.

In fact, Miller wrote Secretary of Education Arne Duncan a letter last Friday, saying, basically, that he’s worried that states are trying to wiggle out of the graduation reporting regulations that former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings put in place just before she left office in 2008. Those rules required states to use a uniform metric for calculating grad rates.

via Miller to Duncan: Waivers May Offer Too Much Leeway On Grad Rates.

The Educated Guess: Sec. Duncan on tour for school connectivity

The next time your child groans and asks why he has to go to school, or tells you she is absolutely certain that she’ll never use math, steal a little wit and wisdom from Salman Khan. The Silicon Valley innovator, whose online educational videos have grown to nearly 200 million lessons, kept an auditorium full of high school students rapt earlier this week as he urged them to consider a future in computer science.

“I think there’s a misperception about it being a very, I don’t know, kind of dorky field, for lack of a better word,” said Khan to laughter. It helped the joke that he was sitting next to Andrew Ng, the Stanford computer scientist who runs the University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab and developed the platform for Coursera, the program that allows millions of people to enroll in online courses offered by the nation’s top universities. “Thanks, Sal,” broke in Ng good-naturedly.

But when Khan delivered the real punch line, the students were speechless and dorkless. “You go to Google, Facebook, any of these companies right now; they’re offering six-figure salaries to 21-year-olds, and they cannot find enough people.”

via Sec. Duncan on tour for school connectivity – by Kathryn Baron.

SacBee: Secretary of Education meets in Sacramento with mayors, superintendents

By Melody Gutierrez

While in Sacramento during a national bus tour, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the biggest challenge facing public education is complacency, and he challenged parents and students to demand more of those in charge.

Duncan spoke Wednesday in the Tsakopoulos Library to a group of more than 40 mayors and school superintendents from across the state.

The panel discussion focused on issues, including California’s No Child Left Behind waiver and the hot-button topic of tying test scores to teacher evaluations.

via Secretary of Education meets in Sacramento with mayors, superintendents.

EdSource Today: Arne Duncan tight-lipped on California’s waiver

By Kathryn Baron

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wouldn’t reveal even a hint regarding the status of California’s request for a waiver from the most unrealistic provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind, in an interview on Wedneday.

Duncan only reiterated what state education officials have already acknowledged. “Our staff is still in conversation with the state, so we’re still working on it,” the Secretary told EdSource Today in a phone call yesterday during the first leg of his “Education Drives America” Back-to-School bus tour as it rolled through the Bay Area.

via Duncan tight-lipped on California’s waiver – by Kathryn Baron.

Education Next: Maintenance of Inefficiency

In November 2010, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan presciently observed that, in coming years, educators would “face the challenge of doing more with less,” but warned against discouragement: “Enormous opportunities for improving the productivity of our education system lie ahead if we are smart, innovative, and courageous in rethinking the status quo.” The budget challenges Mr. Duncan foresaw are now reality: States and districts face tough decisions about education spending as revenue declines and federal stimulus spending dries up. But officials who have attempted to do more with less have often found themselves stymied in one key area by the intransigence of the very agency that Mr. Duncan leads.

via Maintenance of Inefficiency.

Education Week: As Obama is Nominated, Duncan Speech Finesses Touchy Issues

Charlotte, N.C.

On the night President Barack Obama’s name was formally placed in nomination for re-election, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan used his high-profile Democratic convention speech to tout the president’s work to avert teacher layoffs and revamp student loans.

But the education secretary steered clear of mentioning charter schools expansion, teacher evaluation, and aggressive school turnaround—policies at the heart of the Obama administration’s agenda during Duncan’s tenure as secretary.

via As Obama is Nominated, Duncan Speech Finesses Touchy Issues.

Education Week: Romney’s VP Pick of Paul Ryan Puts Spending Debate in the Spotlight

Gov. Mitt Romney this morning announced that he’s tapping Rep. Paul Ryan , R-Wis., for vice president, a move that puts the debate over how best to put the nation’s fiscal house in order front-and-center in the presidential campaign.

Ryan’s controversial budget blueprint, which has been passed by the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, would seek big cuts to discretionary spending (which includes most education programs). In fact, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the budget could have “disastrous consequences for America’s children.”

via Romney’s VP Pick of Paul Ryan Puts Spending Debate in the Spotlight.

Education Week: Special Education Could Suffer Billion-Dollar Automatic Cut

Across-the-board federal budget cuts could take a nearly $1 billion bite out of federal special education spending, with the bulk of that representing state grants for the education of school-age children with disabilities.

The automatic cuts, or sequestration, could come in January if Congress doesn’t come up with a way to put the country on firmer fiscal footing, as my colleague Alyson Klein explains over at the Politics K-12 blog.

At a hearing this week in the Senate, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the education committee, shared a list of possible reductions that would be made to education and other programs if the automatic cuts are triggered in January.

via Special Education Could Suffer Billion-Dollar Automatic Cut.

Education Week: Lawmakers Explore Impact of Automatic Cuts on Education

A set of sweeping, across-the-board trigger cuts set to go into effect in January would be “devastating” to education programs, particularly if Congress decides to spare only defense programs while allowing K-12 cuts to go through, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Democratic lawmakers said at a hearing today.

Right now, domestic spending programs—like education‐and defense programs are supposed to share the pain of the trigger cuts equally, with all programs facing a cut of up about 7.8 percent on January 2, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

But, if Congress reaches some sort of deal that exempts only defense, the cuts to domestic programs would be much steeper, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees education spending, said at hearing today on the impact of the cuts. They could be as high as 17.6 percent, across-the-board, he estimated.

Secretary Duncan said that he “worries gravely” about what such a big cut would mean for the future of the economy.

via Lawmakers Explore Impact of Automatic Cuts on Education.

EdSource Today: Mum’s the word on California’s request for NCLB waiver

By John Fensterwald

No word yet on California’s application for a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law. Literally, no word.

At a press conference last week, in which he announced that six more states would get waivers from NCLB sanctions, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan declined to answer a reporter’s question regarding California’s status, according to Education Week. Read into that what you want, but no comment is probably not good news for California’s non-conforming application.

So far, the federal Department of Education has approved waivers for 33 states, with three more in the hopper. Vermont has dropped out and Iowa, for now, has had its application denied. The states with the waivers won’t have to meet the looming demand that all students be proficient in math and reading by 2014, and they won’t have to label additional schools as failing to meet targets. In return, they have to create their own plans for turning around the worst-performing schools, describe how they will  meet career and college readiness goals, describe how they would meet the needs of underperforming subgroups of students, and commit to a teacher evaluation system that includes measuring student progress.

Gov. Jerry Brown and the State Board rejected the teacher evaluation requirement as a state mandate for local districts. Instead, they submitted a different, more limited request for a waiver. It calls for changing the state’s Academic Performance Index to improve instruction in schools with the lowest scores and largest achievement gaps.

via Mum’s the word on California’s request for NCLB waiver – by John Fensterwald.

Education Week: Feds Offer Guidelines on Discouraging Restraints, Seclusion

Nearly three years after U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan first sent states letters asking them to review policies and guidelines on the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, the Education Department has issued its own nonbinding guidance on the practices.

Restraint and seclusion, often used on students with disabilities, are intended to be used in emergency situations, when students are in danger of hurting themselves or others. But several reports, including one by the U.S. Government Accountability Office have found that the practices are being used inappropriately and incorrectly, leading to injuries, or even the deaths, of students.

via Feds Offer Guidelines on Discouraging Restraints, Seclusion.

The Reporter: Do state mandated tests devalue arts in Solano County schools?

By Richard Bammer/RBammer@TheReporter.com

With the state casting a watchful eye on improving student scores on STAR tests, are the arts in Vacaville schools, particularly in elementaries, being undervalued, if not de-emphasized, and, thus, putting at risk the district’s goal of graduating well-rounded students?

via Do state mandated tests devalue arts in Solano County schools?.