Details of Obama’s proposed $70B for education

Obama's 2013 education budget focuses on STEM initiatives and workforce readiness.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) would receive nearly $70 billion under President Barack Obama’s FY2013 budget, which he presented to Congress on Feb. 13. The $69.8 billion budget request represents a 2.5 percent increase—up $1.7 billion—from the 2012 budget.

Notable funding areas include a $14 billion one-time investment in key reform areas: aligning education programs with workforce demands, supporting high-quality teachers, and increasing college quality and affordability.

Race to the Top, Obama’s signature school reform program, would receive $850 million under the budget proposal. A large portion of that sum would go to early learning, and the 2013 competition would, in part, focus on helping state and local districts support reforms and innovations to close achievement gaps and increase student achievement.…Read More

Obama challenges lawmakers to strengthen education

"I intend to fight obstruction with action," the president said.

In a State of the Union address that was as much a campaign speech as a call to action, President Obama touted his administration’s success in spurring school reform and challenged lawmakers to build on this success by investing more in education and research to “prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Facing a deeply divided Congress, Obama appealed for lawmakers to send him legislation on a host of issues, including education, clean energy, housing, and immigration reform—knowing full well the election-year prospects are bleak but aware that polls show the independent voters who lifted him to the presidency crave bipartisanship.

The president contrasted the selflessness and teamwork of the American troops who took out Osama Bin Laden with the gridlock that exists in Congress.…Read More

Nine states win early education grants

The goal of the grants is to get more children from birth to age 5 ready for kindergarten.

Nine states have won a collective $500 million from the federal government to help make pre-kindergarten and other early learning programs more accessible and better capable of narrowing the achievement gap between those who start kindergarten without any formal schooling and those who do.

California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington state were announced as winners at the White House on Dec. 16.

“Nothing is more important than getting our babies off to a good start,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.…Read More

With online testing on the horizon, infrastructure could be a challenge

Within a few years, school districts in most states will have to have enough computers to allow students to take multiple tests online throughout the school year.

With new online tests being designed to reflect the Common Core standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, school districts in these states will have to replace pencil-and-paper testing with the new online exams as soon as the 2014-15 school year. But school leaders are unsure how the computers and software needed for such a move will be funded.

Last year, the federal Education Department doled out more than $300 million in Race to the Top funding to two groups of states to create next-generation assessments tied to the Common Core standards.

One of these groups, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), includes 23 states and the District of Columbia. The other group, the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, includes 28 states. For now, Alabama, Colorado, Kentucky, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina belong to both consortia—and Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia belong to neither.…Read More

Sen. Shelby questions education grant competition

The “Race to the Top” program extends the reach of the federal government too far into states’ public schools operations, a leading Republican senator said on Wednesday, Reuters reports. The Obama administration also risks neglecting poorer states by moving toward competitive education funding, Sen. Richard Shelby, the most powerful Republican on the Banking Committee, said at a hearing on education spending.

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Education grants made available for nine states

According to Reuters, nine states will be eligible to compete for education grants of up to $50 million through President Barack Obama’s “Race to the Top” program, the federal government said on Wednesday. The states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and South Carolina — were picked in the third round of grant competition after they failed to win funding in their first two tries…

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Report: U.S. should model education system after other countries

Teacher quality is "only ... as good as the system that recruits, prepares, and compensates the nation’s teachers,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

The U.S. must mirror the educational practices of top-performing countries if it is to regain its competitive advantage, according to a new report from the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE).

One of the major discrepancies between the U.S. and countries that are outperforming it educationally is the performance differences between students from high- and low-income families.

The NCEE hosted a May 24 symposium to discuss the findings of its report, called “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: An American Agenda for Education Reform.”…Read More

Feds announce $500M for early learning competition

New federal grants will encourage states to develop high-quality early childhood learning programs.

A new state-level grant competition will direct $500 million in federal funding to improve child care and early childhood learning as part of the Obama administration’s signature Race to the Top program.

The Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge encourages states to make the best possible use of current federal and state investments in early childhood learning by creating comprehensive plans to transform early learning centers with better coordination and clearer learning standards.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, whose departments will administer the competition jointly, challenged the broader innovation community—including leading researchers, high-tech entrepreneurs, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and others—to engage with the early childhood learning community to close the school readiness gap.…Read More