Posts Tagged: Dept. of Education

Lots of blanks to fill in on California’s education test

As California faces the prospect of barely imaginable cuts to its floundering public schools, U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan appeared in Los Angeles Tuesday, calling for reform of the nation’s education reform program.

According to a story by Jason Song in the Los Angeles Times, Duncan criticized the so-called No Child Left Behind reforms as rigidly tied to raw test scores that are compared in a vacuum. Duncan, a proponent of so-called ‘value-added’ measures of assessment, called for the re-writing of the law before an education summit organized by United Way.

Under the method Duncan is pushing, teachers would be assessed (earn a raise or get fired), based on the difference between what statisticians assume a student with a given background should get on a standardized test and the students’ actual score. The difference between the assumption and reality would reveal how much a particular teacher helped or hurt pupils. (more…)

Illinois surprised by money for education

Illinois needs all the outside money it can get for education — several individual school districts, including the Chicago Public Schools, face unprecedented deficits. However, the state looks unprepared to spend money in the state aid package the U.S. House of Representatives passed Tuesday. (more…)

Medicaid relief for states like Illinois may come soon

Pat Quinn

In a major breakthrough yesterday, the Senate overcame a filibuster on a bill to provide $26.1 billion in Medicaid and education assistance to state governments.  The House is now expected to return from its August recess to pass the legislation, and President Obama should sign the bill before the 2010-11 school year begins — averting some teacher layoffs. The money will help Illinois, (more…)

Illinois patiently waits for Medicaid money

Via Progress Illinois, The Hill’s Julian Pecquet reports that Senate leader Harry Reid is expected to table a bill that extends increased Medicaid payments to states for six months.  These Medicaid payments were a critical part of the stimulus bill and their extension could make the Illinois budget crisis less dire. (more…)

States scramble to get Race to the Top funds

Arne Duncan

Illinois is one of nineteen finalists for the second round of Dept. of Education Race to the Top money and the state will know by September whether they’ve won a grant. Chase Castle and Rebecca Harris of Catalyst Chicago report that Sec. of Education Arne Duncan used the announcement to argue that Race to the Top has already changed education policy across the country. Duncan pointed out that in order to qualify (more…)

Civil Rights in Obama’s Ed. Dept.

The New York Times’ Sam Dillon reports that, according to a statement by Education Sec. Arne Duncan, the Dept. of Education’s civil rights office will “reinvigorate civil rights enforcement.” The Education Dept. will do this through compliance reviews — that is, looking at whether individual districts are giving equal educational opportunities to women, minorities and disabled students. However, the Obama administration won’t do significantly more compliance reviews than the Bush administration did:

Russlyn H. Ali, assistant secretary of education for civil rights, said in an interview that the department would begin 38 compliance reviews before the current fiscal year ended on Oct. 1. That number compares with 29 such reviews carried out last year, 42 in 2008, 23 in 2007 and nine in 2006, she said.

“But the big difference is not in the number of the reviews we intend to carry out, but in their complexity and depth,” Ms. Ali said. “Most of the reviews in the recent past have looked at procedures.”

The Obama Education Dept. has not incorporated civil rights enforcement into their overall policies. Duncan’s prescriptions for urban schools — more charter schools, teacher evaluation based on student test scores, shut downs of poor-performing schools — doesn’t address the intense concentration of black and Latino students in many of these districts.

These more rigorous compliance reviews could be important. But what would be more important is if Obama and Duncan confronted lingering segregation in public schools, including charter schools.

The Misleading “Created or Saved” Stimulus Job

The Washington Post’s Nick Anderson relays a pretty lame report by the Dept. of Education about how many education jobs have been saved or retained by the stimulus bill. The answer to that trivia question is the nice, impressive looking number of about 250,000. But the number doesn’t include how many education jobs have been lost due to the recession and subsequent budget crises in almost every state. For example, Illinois spent hundreds of millions in stimulus education money and, in the process, prevented the layoffs of hundreds of teachers. But the stimulus money hasn’t been enough: while hundreds of decent teachers were able to keep their jobs hundreds of decent teachers were laid off.

Such is the story of the stimulus overall: the stimulus has worked to create and save jobs but it simply wasn’t big enough to reverse the trend of rising unemployment.


In 1860 South Carolina became the first confederate state to secede from the Union. In 2009, South Carolina’s governor, Mark Sanford, has seceded from the state. Corey Dade and Alex Roth of the Wall Street Journal report that a federal judge yesterday rejected Sanford’s rejection of $700 million in federal stimulus money. The stimulus cash — which would go toward education and public safety — was desperately wanted by the South Carolina state legislature, including the Republican president of the legislature. But Sanford feels the money could be better spent trimming the state’s debt.

Sanford has been ridiculed but there’s a legit federalism argument to be made that Washington can’t detail how state governments should spend money. Unfortunately, Sanford is making a political point here about deficit spending instead of looking out for South Carolina. Sanford allegedly wants  to drum up interest in a possible 2012 presidential bid. He probably won’t running on the record of South Carolina’s schools and public safety level.-MB