In This Issue...
President Obama joined U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan in announcing the draft application for the $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" Fund. The announcement was broadcast live earlier today.
Other speakers included Gene Wilhoit, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers; Jean Clements, president of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association; Mike Feinberg, co-founder of the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) Foundation and the Superintendent of KIPP Houston; Eric Smith, Commissioner of Education for the state of Florida; and Matthew Austin, a student at Washington D.C's Howard University Public Charter Middle School of Mathematics and Science.
This largest-ever federal investment in education reform will
reward eligible states for past accomplishments and create incentives
for future improvement in four critical areas of reform: adopting
rigorous standards and assessments; recruiting and retaining effective
teachers, especially in classrooms where they are needed most; turning
around low-performing schools; and establishing data systems to track
student achievement and teacher effectiveness.
View the archived Webcast here: http://www.connectlive.com/events/deptedu/
Press Release: "President Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan Announce National Competition to Advance School Reform"
President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne
Duncan today announced that states leading the way on school reform will
be eligible to compete for $4.35 billion in Race to the Top competitive
grants to support education reform and innovation in classrooms.
Between the 2009 budget and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
(ARRA), more than $10 billion in grant money will be available to states
and districts that are driving reform.
"This competition will not be based on politics, ideology, or
the preferences of a particular interest group. Instead, it will be
based on a simple principle--whether a state is ready to do what works.
We will use the best data available to determine whether a state can
meet a few key benchmarks for reform--and states that outperform the
rest will be rewarded with a grant. Not every state will win and not
every school district will be happy with the results. But America's
children, America's economy, and America itself will be better for it,"
President Obama said in a speech at the U.S. Department of Education
headquarters in Washington.
The centerpiece of the Obama administration's education reform efforts is the $4.35 billion Race to the Top Fund, a national competition which will highlight and replicate effective education reform strategies in four significant areas:
* Adopting internationally benchmarked standards and
assessments that prepare students for success in college and the
"The $4.35 billion Race to the Top program that we are
unveiling today is a challenge to states and districts. We're looking to
drive reform, reward excellence and dramatically improve our nation's
schools," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said at the event.
In addition to the Race to the Top Fund, over the coming months
the Department plans to award more than $5.6 billion in additional
grants through several other federal programs that support the
Administration's reform priorities, making available dollars that have
been allocated by Congress under the FY 2009 budget and the ARRA. The
Department of Education will be publishing draft regulations on each of
the programs in coming weeks. In releasing the documents, Secretary
Duncan is calling on state officials to intentionally prepare to use
money from all of these programs in an integrated way to advance these
essential areas of reforms.
The additional programs include the $650 million Investing in
Innovation Fund. Like Race to the Top, the Investing in Innovation Fund
is part of the ARRA. It will support local efforts by school districts
and partnerships with nonprofits to start or expand research-based
innovative programs that help close the achievement gap and improve
outcomes for students.
With $297 million in the Teacher Incentive Fund, states and
districts will create or expand effective performance pay and teacher
advancement models to reward teachers and principals for increases in
student achievement and boost the number of effective educators working
with poor, minority, and disadvantaged students and teaching
With $315 million from the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems
program, states will expand their data systems to track students'
achievement from preschool through college and link their achievement to
teachers and principals. Applications for these funds are being posted
With $3.5 billion in Title I School Improvement Grants, the
Department will support states in efforts to reform struggling schools,
and focus on implementing turnaround models in the lowest-performing
schools. Secretary Duncan has set a goal of turning around the bottom 5
percent of schools in the next five years. In addition, $919 million in
State Educational Technology Grants to help bring technology into the
classroom will be made available. These funds are distributed to states
by formula but states must deliver at least half of the money to
districts on a competitive basis. States can make all of the money
Within Race to the Top, $350 million has also been set aside to
help fund common assessments for states that adopt common international
standards. Draft guidelines and criteria for the Race to the Top
competition as well as the second round of grants from the State Fiscal
Stabilization Fund are being published today.
An application for the state data system grants also is being
published today. In the coming weeks, the Department will release
guidance on the Investing in Innovation Fund, the Teacher Incentive
Fund, the Title I School Improvement Grants, and the State Educational
The Department will finalize the regulations and start
accepting applications for the Race to the Top competition this fall.
The first round of grants will go out early next year. The second round
of applications will likely be due in June 2010 and final awards will be
made in September.
"States will have two chances to win," Duncan said. "They have plenty of time to learn from the first-round winners, change laws where necessary, build partnerships with all key stakeholders, and advance bold and creative reforms."
= Race to the Top Executive Summary: http://www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/executive-summary.pdf
= Race to the Top Funding Website: http://www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html
= "Education Reform's Moon Shot" (Washington Post article by Arne Duncan)
= California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell's Reaction to "Race to the Top" Announcement
Source: The New York Times - 23 July 2009
The Obama administration took aim on Thursday at state laws--adopted after heavy teachers' union lobbying--barring the use of student achievement data to evaluate teacher performance.
The federal Department of Education proposed rules to prevent
states with such laws from getting money from a $4.3 billion-educational
Money from the Race to the Top Fund is to be distributed in two
stages, late this year and in 2010, by Education Secretary Arne Duncan
to a handful of states with positive records of what the department
considers school reform as well as plans for additional improvement.
Legislatures in New York, California and some other states have
enacted laws that limit, to one degree or another, use of student
achievement data in teacher performance evaluations.
Both national teachers’ unions oppose the use of student
testing data to evaluate individual teachers, arguing in part that
students are often taught by several teachers and that teacher
evaluations should be based on several measures of performance, not just
"This is poking teachers’ unions straight in the eye," Mike
Petrilli, a vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a
research group that studies education policy, said of the proposed fund
eligibility requirement dealing with student data...
In recent weeks, Mr. Duncan has delivered speeches to...unions,
urging them to rethink their positions on issues like seniority and
teacher tenure to help improve public education at a time when thousands
of schools are chronically failing.
"You must be willing to change," Mr. Duncan told teachers at a meeting of the N.E.A. this month in San Diego.
Relations between the administration and the two unions, both
of which worked for President Obama's election, remain cordial. Hundreds
of thousands of teachers have benefited from $100 billion in stimulus
money designated for spending on public schools in 2009 and 2010.
But Mr. Obama and Mr. Duncan have repeatedly urged changes in
the way public schools work, including how teachers are trained, hired
"This administration is challenging unions on some issues that
are at the core of the union agenda," said Kate Walsh, president of the
National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonprofit group that studies
teachers’ union contracts.
Proposed rules for the $4.3 billion Race to the Top competition
say that states must show they are carrying out education innovation
and reform, improving student achievement, adopting higher standards,
recruiting effective teachers and principals, building educational data
systems, and turning around low-performing schools.
To be eligible to apply for money, a "state must not have any
legal, statutory or regulatory barriers to linking data on student
achievement or student growth to teachers and principals for the purpose
of teacher and principal evaluation," according to a summary of the
New York’s Legislature last year prohibited the use of student
test scores in teacher tenure decisions. In a speech last month to
Department of Education researchers, Mr. Duncan singled out data laws in
some states for ridicule.
"Believe it or not," Mr. Duncan said, "several states, including New York, Wisconsin and California, have laws that create a firewall between students and teacher data. I think that’s simply ridiculous. We need to know what is and is not working and why"...
California Budget Notes:
Source: The Sacramento Bee - 24 July 2009
After nearly 20 hours in session, lawmakers this afternoon
completed work on a plan to close a giant hole in California's budget by
slashing billions of dollars from almost all state programs, borrowing
heavily from local governments, reducing state workers' pay through
furloughs and reforming some of the ways the state does business.
The Assembly approved the final bill in the package about 3
p.m. The Senate finished voting about 6:30 a.m. after a long night that
saw almost no speeches but plenty of earnest lobbying by leaders of
both parties to secure the necessary votes. Both houses have adjourned
until Aug. 17.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger probably will not act on the bills
until next week, his office said, and state finance officials say it may
take weeks before the completed budget can be translated into an end to
= See http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/re/ht/bcrc.asp for links to press releases from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell's office regarding the impact of the budget crisis on school funding in California. The latest link (July 21) is entitled, "Schools Chief Jack O'Connell Issues Statement on [State] Budget Deal."
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