During these troubled economic times, it takes the collective talents of everyone to help put the pieces back together. Share your experiences with your peers and post your questions and solutions in the discussion threads below.
Last week, we were hanging on the edge of the funding cliff. Then, the Education Jobs Fund (Ed Jobs) threw us a lifeline. Find out how to grab on to the $10 billion to save or create jobs for this school year. You can start hiring now. No need to wait until school starts. Get all the details.
As California Races to the Top, some Californians are biting their nails in anticipation of the race results for their state.
This editorial from the LA Times notes: "The worrisome part of the Race to the Top program is reflected in its very name — it is indeed a race to reform, quickly and dramatically, with inadequate attention to conducting pilot studies or discerning what research shows to work or not work in schools."
“The American story is all about extraordinary people who meet the challenges of their times with determination, courage and vision. From the heroes of the American Revolution to the heroes of our transformative social movements -- our nation was shaped by bold men and women who overcome resistance, fear and dissent to build alliances that advance our collective welfare. …
…Today, in the field of public education, this moment is upon us and I am not the first to say it. From journalists and educators to politicians and parents -- there is a growing sense that a quiet revolution is underway in our homes and schools, classrooms and communities. …
…It is driven by great educators and administrators who are challenging the defeatism and inertia that has trapped generations of children in second-rate schools. They know that every child can learn in a school culture where parents are engaged, teachers are respected and principals are empowered.”
Or can we all win when it comes to education? That's what many civil rights organizations are advocating. And they're not sure that's what's happening with Race to the Top because many minority students are in "losing" states.
The Department of Education is listening. Secretary Duncan met with eight civil rights organizations earlier this week.
"I think [federal officials] really need to look at what we say about Race to the Top and competitive grants,” said Barbara R. Arnwine, the executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, one of the groups behind the new education framework. “We believe education is a civil right, and that means that everybody should have that right. There shouldn’t be winners and losers. That whole concept should be out of that discussion.”
We’re all familiar with layoffs going on in our schools as the stimulus money reaches the funding cliff. But how is your district approaching the process?
While it might be natural to let go the less effective employees, that’s not what’s happening. Instead, most districts are saying goodbye to the newest employees. Dubbed a “dark cloud on the horizon” for education reformers in this Newsweek article, this old school process could undermine the impact of Race to the Top.
If you purchased equipment or property with your district’s ARRA funds, you’ll want to tune in to this Department of Education webinar, “Equipment and Property Management,” on Monday, July 26 at 2:00 p.m.
This presentation will outline federal guidance and requirements for the oversight and management of equipment and property purchased using ARRA funds. Other topics to be discussed will include:
Requirements for retaining documentation related to equipment and property purchases,
The importance of ongoing monitoring of the use and disposition of the equipment and property, and
Conducting a regular inventory of items purchased with federal funds.
The House of Representatives voted to take $800 million from key administration initiatives to help avert teacher layoffs. So are they robbing the Race to the Top bank, or doing what must be done to save jobs?
Have you ever played “Would You Rather,” a game where you are presented with an impossible situation and have to choose between equally awful options? Well, we all might be playing that game with education now. Instead of choosing between losing an arm or a leg, politicians are trying to make us choose between jobs and quality education.
According to the Washington Post, Rep. David R. Obey (D), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, wants to funnel money away from Race to the Top to save education jobs.
The Department of Education wants both. The same Post article quotes ED assistant secretary Peter Cunningham: "We think that jobs and reform are both needed to keep our economy strong -- short term and long term."
The U.S. might be out of the World Cup, but the game goes on. There's another important tournament going on, one that we must win: the tournament for education funding. Another team might be eliminated soon.
Oregon is in jeopardy of losing a half billion dollars in federal stimulus money for education. The Oregonian reports:
"Under the U.S. Department of Education's State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, Oregon received $570 million for three years ending in June 2011.
To keep that money, the state must maintain its financial support for public schools and higher education at or above 2006 levels – what government calls a sufficient 'maintenance of effort.'
The governor on Tuesday ordered 9 percent across-the-board budget cuts to adjust to a $577 million hole in the budget resulting from the recession and declining state revenue. His order shaves state support for higher education in next year's budget below 2006 levels by about $32 million."
As we move the next round of Race to the Top, will injuries like this keep states from advancing? Or will we have to wait another four years to recover?
As the deadlines to spend ARRA funds approach, some school districts still have big bills left in their wallets. In a recent Department of Education webinar, more than 48% of the participants said they are somewhat concerned about spending their money before the deadlines.
Titled, Strategic Use of Title I & IDEA: How To Maximize ARRA FY09 and FY10 Funds, that webinar, co-presented by ASBO members, covered ways school districts can maximize the impact of Title I and IDEA funding and minimize the post-ARRA "funding cliff."
Check out the ideas they came up with about how you can use ARRA funds to improve the achievement of students eligible to be served under Title I and IDEA funding.
Use of IDEA ARRA funds for students with disabilities:
Virtual special education courses in Spanish
Training for parents of students with disabilities
Intensive language arts special education reading programs
Extended-day programs necessary to implement IEPs
Dropout prevention initiatives
Staff for collaborative special team-teaching
Use of Title 1 ARRA Funds for at-risk students:
Align with the school intervention models in the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program.
Boost the funding provided to existing highest-need Title 1 schools (more staff and intense services through additional staffing and resources).
Initiate a new program that has never been funded by state/local funds (extend part day kindergarten to full day for educational at risk students); use future Title I dollars to continue after ARRA.
Expand programs to additional Title 1-eligible schools.
"Although the changes made in applications from the first to the second round varied widely from state to state, union buy-in increased on average by 22 percentage points, with states such as Florida, Michigan, and Wisconsin making big leaps.
"At the same time, the overall level of district support and students affected in the 30 applications barely budged, mostly owing to California’s loss of support from about 500 districts representing nearly 2 million students. That negated progress other states made in improving buy-in."
To best compete, states need all stakeholders on the same page. That’s what it’s all about.
"The school superintendents who prepared the bid deserved an Oscar 'for the great performance in putting this together,' he said, thanking several by name, including Carlos A. Garcia, the San Francisco superintendent.
'It’s supported just about by everybody,' Mr. Schwarzenegger added.
That, too, was meant to be a joke."
As in many states, critics in California see Race to the Top as an attack on teachers. But they need the funding. Garcia, who was flippantly thanked by the governor, argues that school districts want to be part of a partnership, not what he perceives to be the federal government’s “my way or the highway” approach.
How's your experience? Maybe your state will get to say, "I'll be back" for the next round of Race to the Top.
Should ineffective teachers lose their jobs? Colorado says yes.
In its quest to compete in Race to the Top, the state passed a law that requires school principals to evaluate teachers, tying at least half of their rating to student achievement. The law also says that tenured teachers who perform badly for two years in a row can lose their job security. Several lawmakers wept in public sessions in their attempt to stop the law, reports The New York Times.
Are you reaching for tissues or applauding this change?
As the demand for transparency with the use of taxpayers’ money hits a new high, you need to be at your best. This presentation will help you improve the quality of your data collection and analysis, to meet the reporting requirements of their federal grants, as well as the requirements for retaining records related to grant activities and expenditures.
And don’t miss the inside scoop on common data quality pitfalls that GAO, ED’s OIG, and OMB have identified during reviews of ARRA Section 1512 reports.