Articles in the Federal Programs category

NSBA analyzes final fiscal year 2011 budget and program cuts

NSBA’s advocacy department has provided the following analysis of the final appropriations bill (H.R. 1473) for fiscal year 2011, which will fund the remaining six months of this fiscal year. President Obama signed the bill on April 15.

While the measure does not impose the range of cuts to domestic programs that was debated earlier this year, it reduces funding across most federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education, by more than $38 billion.

In addition, elementary and secondary education programs are subject to a 0.2 percent across-the-board cut that could total about $836 million. The FY2011 Continuing Resolution directs the Education Department and other agencies to submit in-depth expenditure or operating plans to the House and Senate appropriations committees within 30 days of the bill’s enactment “for fiscal year 2011 at a level of detail below the account level.” Therefore, the exact funding levels for programs including Title I grants, special education (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), and Impact Aid may not be available from the Department until mid-May.

The law also directs the Education Department to share findings from program evaluations of Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, “including impact evaluations and interim progress evaluations, of activities conducted using funds previously obligated” under the economic stimulus.

While the law continues funding for newer competitive grant programs and provides increases for early childhood education, it reduces and eliminates funding for other education programs.

Increases to new and existing programs:

Specifically, $700 million is provided for another round of Race to the Top competitive grants program to states, as well as a new grant program for “improving early childhood care and education” that would be administered jointly between the Departments of Education and Health & Human Services. Based on the law’s provisions, grants would be available to states to help create and improve high-quality early learning programs and services and increase enrollment among infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The program would be based on earlier legislation that NSBA supported in FY2010 for an Early Learning Challenge Fund.

Other program increases include $150 million for another round of grants under the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund, a $20 million increase for Promise Neighborhoods grants ($30 million total), and a $340 million increase for Head Start ($7.56 billion total).

Reductions
Program cuts listed within the law include a $475 million reduction to Teacher Quality State Grants (remaining funding approximately $2.46 billion). Within this program, a new component of competitive grants totaling approximately $29 million would be available to groups that provide teacher certification services.  (One of the previous FY2011 short-term continuing resolutions eliminated specific funding for teacher certification boards.)

Other program reductions/eliminations include:

  • The elimination of the Enhancing Education Through Technology State Grants ($100 million);
  • A $138 million reduction to Career and Technical Education grants, which may include the elimination of the Tech Prep component that supports a transition from high school to postsecondary institutions for academic education and career/technical training and education;
  • Elimination of Smaller Learning Communities ($88 million);
  • A $79 million cut to Safe and Drug-Free Schools National Programs;
  • Elimination of the Striving Readers program ($250 million);
  • Elimination of Arts in Education ($40 million);
  • Elimination of Even Start ($66.5 million), which helps integrate early childhood education, adult education, and parenting programs;
  • A $15 million reduction to English Language Acquisition grants (remaining funding approximately $735 million);
  • A $10 million reduction to School Improvement grants (remaining funding approximately $535 million);
  • Elimination of Reading is Fundamental ($24.8 million).

NSBA will provide an updated chart reflecting the Department’s most recent calculations as soon as possible. Also, NSBA’s letter to Congress regarding H.R. 1473 is available here. The letter expressed strong opposition to the continuance of the District of Columbia voucher program, which was included in the April 8 continuing resolution, and urged Congress to reconsider increases to programs that are competitively funded when cuts are imposed to key programs, such as Title I grants that benefit more students.

The House of Representatives’ roll call on the passage of H.R. 1473 by a vote of 260 -167 is available here. The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 81 to 19.

Funding for Voucher Program for District of Columbia Included in Continuing Resolution

NSBA thanks you for responding to our calls to action to defeat the proposal to fund the District of Columbia Voucher program. Despite a broad-based, ongoing lobbying effort by NSBA (in addition to our  extensive coalition efforts with the National Coalition for Public Education), the Continuing Resolution for FY2011 adopted by both the House and Senate on April 14, included an extension and expansion of vouchers in the District of Columbia, as passed by the House in H.R. 471 and introduced by House Speaker John Boehner. The voucher program would extend vouchers of up to $7,500 per student, in a set aside of up to $15.5 million per year for the next five years.

Voucher amendments have only been successful as “riders” to CRs, and have not been passed by both chambers as free-standing bills. Only when included in a massive, all-encompassing bill have vouchers been enacted into law. NSBA will keep you apprised of any additional voucher proposals as they surface on Capitol Hill and necessary action steps.

Joetta Sack-Min|April 20th, 2011|Categories: Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Programs, School Board News, School Vouchers|

Reforms spur governance changes

School reforms going on in major urban districts could also be changing the landscape of governance, according to a Thursday session of the Council of School Attorneys’ (COSA) School Law Seminar.

Deborah Rigsby, NSBA’s director of federal legislation, advocacy, and issues management, gave an overview of the current federal reform efforts, including Race to the Top.

School Improvement grants (SIGs) were started in 2007 by the U.S. Department of Education. They were started “out of concerns that we needed a greater focus on the schools on the bottom percentile,” said Rigsby.

Of the four current reforms for SIGs, the two most popular are the transformational model – 71 percent are using this model – and turnaround – 21 percent are using this. Restarts are at 5 percent and school closures are at 3 percent.

With the federal budget being strongly debated in Congress right now, the money for continuing these reforms could be in question, she said. “If this hits Title 1 and IDEA, it could affect those programs.”

The attorneys for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the Boston Public Schools (BPS) discussed the system-wide reforms going on in their districts. Diane Pappas, associate general counsel for LAUSD, said that her district’s reform efforts were spurred by the 2006 attempt by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

After things quieted down,” said Pappas, “we worked out a partnership with the mayor.” The district established a network of partners, one of which was the city of L.A., which took control of schools in poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Schools run by the district’s network partners must still employee union member but can do their own hiring.

The district has charter schools; 170 of them are independent. Other charters are dependent, which means that the school board remains the governing entity, but they have latitude in other areas.

In 2009, she said, the district put up 38 low performing schools and allowed outside groups to bid on them to take them over.

“We have a lot of competition in L.A.,” she said. “It’s good for kids.

In the Boston schools, which have had a mayor-appointed school board since 1991, new state legislation is requiring the district to put into place three different reform models: turnaround, innovation, and in-district charter schools, said Alissa Ocasio, BPS’s legal advisor.

Turnaround schools develop plans that must be approved by the school committees. Any school can apply to be an innovation schools, which is like a pilot program. The in-district charter schools can be started by the superintendent and are subject to the district’s governance structure.

“The plans are designed to improve achievement; that’s the primary focus,” she said. “Any of these schools can be shut down if they are not meeting their goals.”

Kathleen Vail|April 8th, 2011|Categories: Educational Legislation, Federal Programs, NSBA Annual Conference 2011, School Board News, School Law, Urban Schools|

Week in blogs: Do Easter Island statues represent Race to the Top?

Ready for today’s “Week in Blog Question?” Here goes: “How are those weird Easter Island statues like the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition?”

“Say what?”

Sorry, time’s up.  But because this is our inaugural, occasional, semi-monthly-on-average Week in Blog Question, the Judges have graciously offered to give you another try.  “Now take the eraser end of your pencil and open the test  booklet…” No, actually, just think real hard.

Question #2: “So. About those statues: How is the fact that their construction is said to have totally devastated Easter Island civilization as we know it (or think we know it – it was, after all, hundreds of years ago) analogous to what RTTT will do to the public schools?”

Yes, it’s a toughie, and, yes, I’m poking fun at Yong Zhao’s blog on these two seemingly disparate topics (“I can’t help but make the connection between Easter Islanders’ race to erect the statues and the Obama’s Race to the Top program…” he writes) because it’s a little, well, out there; but the fact is, the University of Oregon professor writes some of the most original and provocative analyses of K12 education on the web today.

Here, to be as brief as possible, is his point: According to Jared Diamond’s thesis in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, just as the Easter Islanders exhausted their human and natural resources in a misguided competition to build ever-grander icons, so is RTTT exhausting our schools’ resources in a misguided competition for the best test scores.

“Test scores have no doubt become American’s stone statue in education…” Zhao writes. “Just like the Easter Islanders’ obsession with building statues damaged their ecosystem, America’s obsession with test scores have already begun and will continue to damage its education ecosystem.”

Of course, others have completely different views. I’m just waiting for Arne Duncan to conjure the Italian Renaissance.
Other blogs? Well, closer to home (and the 21st century) Alexander Russo writes about the rising reputation of former Gov. Jeb Bush, in some education circles. A story on Bush appeared last week in the Washington Post.

In another post, Russo talks about the latest education controversy in Rhode Island, where, according to a published report, the Providence Journal failed to disclose that education columnist Julia Steiny is a paid consultant for the state’s Department of Education on the district in Central Falls.  Yes, Russo deadpans, “that Central Falls.” Is that why she wrote so glowingly of state Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, who’s strongly supported district administrators in their long running fight with the teacher union? Steiny says there’s no connection.

Finally, read this moving op-ed from the New York Times about a teacher who made a difference in the life of author Marie Myung-Ok Lee.

Lawrence Hardy|April 3rd, 2011|Categories: Announcements, Federal Programs, School Board News, Week in Blogs|

Video: NSBA speaks out on school bullying

NSBA’s General Counsel, Francisco M. Negrón, Jr., was on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Saturday discussing school bullying.

Here is the video:

Last week, Earl C. Rickman III, President of NSBA, joined President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention and called for a united effort to address bullying in our schools.

Alexis Rice|March 14th, 2011|Categories: Diversity, Federal Programs, Multimedia and Webinars, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Student Achievement, Teachers|

Video from the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention

Yesterday, Earl C. Rickman III, President of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), joined President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention and called for a united effort to address bullying in our schools.

Approximately 150 students, parents, teachers, non-profit leaders, advocates, and policymakers attended the conference and discussed ways they can work together to make our schools and communities safe for all students.

“School board leaders and school officials are committed to safe educational environments for all students,” said Rickman. “With the right guidance and resources school leaders can meet the challenge of ensuring schools are a safe place for all students, free of bullying and harassment.”

Here’s the White House video from the conference:

As announced at yesterday’s conference, NSBA will launch a series of student conversations between school board members and students in middle and high school about the climate in their schools. The sessions will be guided by questions from the research-based school climate surveys developed by NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) and by the Pearson Foundation’s Million Voices project.

“As school boards across the country develop policies and initiatives to combat bullying, it is important they hear from students about the current realities they face in their schools,” said Rickman.

Alexis Rice|March 11th, 2011|Categories: Federal Programs, Multimedia and Webinars, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Student Achievement, Teachers, Urban Schools, Wellness|

Obama warns that cutting education funding is irresponsible

President Barack Obama was at TechBoston Academy in Boston yesterday and warned that cutting funds for education is irresponsible and harmful to our nation’s long-term economy noting, “There’s nothing responsible about cutting back on our investment in these young people.”

View the video of Obama’s speech:

Alexis Rice|March 9th, 2011|Categories: Educational Legislation, Federal Programs, High Schools, Middle Schools, Multimedia and Webinars, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Duncan addresses education funding in the President’s budget

The U.S. Senate Budget Committee held a hearing today and received testimony from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about the President’s FY 2012 education budget.

View the video below of committee chairman, Senator Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), opening remarks and questions for Duncan.

BoardBuzz believes in these extremely challenging economic times, we can’t lose sight of the federal government’s responsibility to support and fund the efforts of local school districts to achieve the necessary reforms and innovations to advance public education. Additionally, as school districts are struggling to maintain key programs, Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in particular, larger funding increases are necessary to prevent school districts from cutting other important programs to meet these federal mandates.

Alexis Rice|March 1st, 2011|Categories: Educational Finance, Federal Programs, Multimedia and Webinars, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

The education reform hype

Blogger, E.D. Kain, has a great commentary today on his Forbes.com blog stating “there are no silver-bullets in education reform.”

Kain notes:

School reformers create a seductive narrative for the media and lawmakers alike. Foundations are lured to support radical changes because they promise radical results. It’s much more glamorous, after all, to put money into shiny new charter schools than to give those dollars to school districts. School choice and accountability sound good on paper, and films like The Lottery and Waiting for Superman pull on our heartstrings and paint pictures of selfish teachers lobbying hard against their own students. These films ignore not only the external factors leading to school failure – including poverty, lack of funding, and other societal issues – they also gloss over the many failed charter schools and choice programs across the country. Advocates of choice and accountability and the modern charter-school movement brush off the wildly varying results found from one charter school to the next. Like traditional public schools, charter schools with a higher percentage of white and Asian students and lower numbers of ESL students and other disadvantaged students fair much better than those with more mixed populations.

Top-down reformers demonize teachers, shut down ‘failing’ schools, and attempt to implement reforms without the input or buy-in of teachers, parents, and the community. This is why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty are no longer serving in Washington, D.C. It’s why Alan Bersin, who publicly fired school administrators and whose tenure saw the highest turnover of teachers and principals in San Diego history, was eventually removed in San Diego. And it’s why Mayor Bloomberg fights so hard to retain total authority over all education decision-making in New York City. Without support from the rank-and-file, school reform is impossible.

American public education is inherently democratic and decentralized, and no amount of dictatorial reform efforts will change that. It’s also about more than simply teaching kids how to take tests in reading and math. We cannot constantly compare American schools to those in other nations – American culture is different from Asian culture or Northern European culture. The accountability movement has shifted the focus away from American ingenuity and creativity in favor of strict testing regimes in an attempt to compete with Japan and Finland. This is the wrong approach. As our nation grows in wealth and technology, American public education should be a reflection of these changes. American schools may have been founded along industrial lines, but accountability efforts only entrench this attitude. If anything, we should be looking for ways to make education more creative and diverse, and to make American students more well-rounded and independent. The current reforms achieve just the opposite.

Let us know what you think?

Alexis Rice|February 28th, 2011|Categories: Comparative Education, Conferences and Events, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal Programs, Mayoral Control, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Student Achievement, Teachers|

Share your ideas on labor-management collaboration

This week’s Conference on Labor-Management Collaboration, which the National School Boards Association was a partner in, showed that when school boards, administrators, and teachers work as a team to improve student achievement, they can greatly strengthen the quality of education we provide to our students and our communities.

Through the conference and online resources now on the U.S. Department of Education’s website, school districts across the country will now be able to share information about their collaborative success and have the resources to design teacher compensation, incentive, and development programs that meet their unique local needs to reach their goals for raising student achievement. You can also “share your ideas” on how to transform the relationship between teachers and school management on the website.

Alexis Rice|February 18th, 2011|Categories: Federal Programs, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, School Boards, Teachers|

Watch live the Conference on Labor-Management Collaboration

Leaders from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and state school boards associations are participating in the Conference on Labor-Management Collaboration, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, taking place in Denver today and tomorrow. At this first-of-its-kind conference, national and local school leaders will hear from other superintendents, school boards, and teacher union leaders who are working together to redefine the labor-management relationship in their communities.

Earl C. Rickman III, President of NSBA, and Anne L. Bryant, Executive Director of NSBA, will represent NSBA at this conference. Rickman also represents Michigan’s Mount Clemens Community School District Board of Education, which he serves as board president. Mount Clemens is one of the 150 school districts from across the country participating in the conference.

Bryant will be part of the session tomorrow on “Leading a Movement to Advance Student Achievement Through Labor-Management Collaboration” which will be featured below live from 2:15 – 3:15 PM EST.

Several leaders from state school boards associations will be represented at the conference, including Ken Delay, Executive Director, Colorado Association of School Boards; Randy Black, Director of Member Relations, Colorado Association of School Boards; Kelly B. Moyher, Senior Staff Attorney, Connecticut Association of Boards of Education; C. Ed Massey, Board Member, Boone County Board of Education in Kentucky and Secretary-Treasurer, NSBA; Carl Smith, Executive Director, Maryland Association of Boards of Education; Andy Sever, Director of Personal Services, Montana School Boards Association; Patrick Duncan, Senior Consultant/Negotiator Labor Relations, New Jersey School Boards Association; Van Keating, Director of Management Services, Ohio School Boards Association; and Timothy Duffy, Executive Director, Rhode Island Association of School Committees.

NSBA joins the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the American Association of School Administrators, the Council of the Great City Schools, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service as partners in this conference.

View live video streaming of the main sessions.

Schedule of Sessions Being Live Streamed:

February 15 4 – 4:30 pm EST
Welcome, Framing, and Overview
Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

February 15 4:30 – 5:30 pm EST
The Principles in Action: Structuring Labor-Management Collaboration for Student Success
The plenary will feature the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, the president of the Hillsborough (Florida) Classroom Teachers Association and the president of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Board of Education.

February 16 11:30 am – 12:30 pm EST
The Difference You Can Make: The Positive Impact of Reform From the Perspective of Students, Parents, Teachers and Principals
The plenary will feature participants from Denver and Douglas County (Colorado) Public Schools.

February 16 2:15 – 3:15 PM EST
Leading a Movement to Advance Student Achievement Through Labor-Management Collaboration
Participants:
Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education
Anne L. Bryant, Executive Director, National School Boards Association
Michael Casserly, Executive Director, Council of the Great City Schools
George H. Cohen, Director, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director, American Association of School Administrators
Dennis Van Roekel, President, National Education Association
Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers

Note: Video will only appear during the time of the live sessions.

Free Videos by Ustream.TV

Alexis Rice|February 15th, 2011|Categories: Conferences and Events, Federal Programs, Multimedia and Webinars, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Rural Schools, School Boards, Teachers, Urban Schools|
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