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Education Report August 27, 2010

The Education Report

AUGUST 27, 2010
Della Cronin, Editor

The Education Report, a weekly publication of WPLLC, provides an executive summary of
public policy issues affecting American education. Please use the bookmarks below to
navigate to your area of interest:

  1. Budget and Appropriations
  2. In Brief
  3. New Publications
  4. In the News
  5. About WPLLC

  6. Budget and Appropriations
    While Capitol Hill remains quiet during the Congressional recess that is scheduled to last until
    mid-September, the Department of Education (ED) shared eagerly-awaited news with states and
    the education community this week. As has been widely reported, on Tuesday, the Department
    unveiled the ten winners in phase two of the Race to the Top (RTTT) competition. The winning
    states include the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New
    York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island. This group joins Delaware and Tennessee—the
    phase one winners announced in March, to bring the total number of states that will share the
    $4.35 billion available under the program to twelve. The amounts of the phase two awards have
    not been announced yet, but the administration hopes that the program will have a phase three.
    Secretary of Education Arne Duncan noted in remarks related to this week’s announcement that
    the FY 2011 budget request proposes investing an additional $1.35 billion in the effort. While
    the annual appropriations process on Capitol Hill is stalled for now, Senate appropriators have
    only set aside half of the requested amount for the program in FY 2011. The House
    Appropriations Committee has yet to take up the education spending bill approved by the
    Subcommittee, which funded RTTT at $800 million.

Many in the education community and press have analyzed the list of winners and their
applications and noted that, as was the case in announcing the phase one finalists, eastern states
fared better during the review process than did their western peers—only Hawaii is west of the
Mississippi, a point that disappointed Colorado leaders have been making since Tuesday’s news.
Maryland’s win was a surprise to many, largely because the state sat out the phase one process
and missed the opportunity for feedback from reviewers that helped other winners strengthen
their second applications.
ED judged states’ applications on a 500-point scale based on more than 30 criteria, including
supporting charter schools, focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and
mathematics) education, improving teacher effectiveness and stakeholder support. High scoring
Massachusetts received 471 points from reviewers, which was a 59.6-point improvement over its
phase one score. Ohio—the lowest scoring winner—received just over thirty more points than it
did in phase one, finishing with a score of 440.8.

Now that the winners have been announced, the administration asserts that this “groundbreaking
education reform program” will “directly impact 13.6 million students, and 980,000 teachers in
25,000 schools.” ED has posted all phase two applications, peer reviewers' comments and scores
online. Videos of states' presentations will be posted by September 10th, and phase one materials
remain available online as well. Visit
district-columbia-win-second-round-race-top-grants for more information.

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  1. In Brief
    On Monday, the Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE) and its partners held a webinar
    titled, “Implementing the Common Core State Standards to Promote Equity,” to encourage
    discussion of issues of importance to minority groups regarding implementation of the
    standards. The webinar built on CHSE’s long-held assertion that common core standards are a
    civil rights issue. All of the panelists agreed that the common core standards may lead to a
    smaller achievement gap and increased college- and career-readiness among all students if
    implemented effectively. Michael Wotorson, CHSE’s Executive Director, explained the aim of
    civil rights advocacy groups is to ensure that the tenets of the Brown v. the Board of Education
    decision pervade implementation of the standards to guarantee an equally high quality education
    for all young people. To provide some context, Bob Wise, the President of the Alliance for
    Excellent Education, provided an overview of the common core. He emphasized that the
    common core only sets standards for English-language arts (ELA) and mathematics, with the
    goal that all students graduate high school college- and career-ready, prepared to participate and
    compete globally. Pointing to the need for this effort, Wise noted that only three states are
    recognized for having superior standards in ELA, and zero states have adequate standards in
    mathematics. Delia Pompa, the Vice President of Education for the National Council of La
    Raza, described the Common Core State Standards as the “embodiment of higher expectations”
    for students, teachers, families and communities—all crucial contributors to student success.
    She also said that K-12 education must embrace and use the culture and language of all students,
    including English language learners (ELLs), to ensure that content and skills being taught are
    relevant to students’ lives. She also called for immediate preparatory steps—and remediation, if
    necessary—to prepare ELLs and academically struggling students for the new standards, which
    she believes should be taught to ELLs as soon as they are implemented. Additional panelists
    called for strong advocacy from the public to urge state and local lawmakers to make
    implementation of the standards a top priority. For more information, visit

On Wednesday, the Professional Association in Education, in partnership with Gallup, hosted a
briefing to release their 42nd annual poll pertaining to education in the United States titled,
“School of Thought: Data-Driven Insights to Inform Education Policy.” The event hosted two
panels to review and discuss two surveys: “Public Opinion & the Future of Education Reform”
and “Youth Readiness for the Future.” Results from the first survey revealed the public’s
opinion of the school turnaround models supported by the Obama administration, charter
schools, the importance of college and the quality of schools in this country. Citing statistics
from the survey, Joanne Weiss, Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Education, stated that
over 90 percent of Americans think their child will attend college and over 70 percent believe
they can afford college. In contrast, Weiss said, only 30 percent would actually make it to
college given the current state of the education system. While the school turnaround models are
viewed unfavorably by the public, charter schools earned high marks of approval, which,
Andrew Rotherham, Co-founder/Partner of Bellwether Education, asserted, “means nothing”
given that “the majority of the public could not define a charter school, nor can one in every four
teachers.” This poll, Rotherham explained, exposed the “large disconnect” between the public
and the education community. In particular, he noted that the higher education community is not
prepared to serve the percentage of students this survey revealed are interested in attending
college. The second survey used a 20-item measure of hope, engagement and well-being to
evaluate the thoughts and feelings of students and how they affect their progress. According to
the results, over 50 percent of youth are hopeful, over 60 percent are engaged in school and 70
percent are considered “thriving.” Dr. Aday Stembridge, Senior Research Associate, Columbia
Teachers College, believes this survey highlights the importance of instructing teachers to better
use data to improve their classrooms and the need to address the low retention rates among
teacher in their first three years in the classroom. Karen Pittman, CEO of the Forum for Youth
Investment, explained these indicators shift how the education community looks at addressing
the achievement gap since this poll makes clear the importance of youth having hope and being
engaged to making significant gains in the classroom. For more information, visit: To view the report, go to:
Back to top.

  1. New Publications
    “The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2010” (August 2010)

“The Recovery Act: Transforming the American Economy Through Innovation” (August 2010)

“PDK/Gallup Poll 2010” (September 2010)
Back to top.

  1. In the News
    “The Littlest Redshirts Sit Out Kindergarten” New York Times (8/20/10)

“Drive to Overhaul Low-Performing Schools Delayed” New York Times (8/23/10)

“Teaching the Teachers Lessons on Culture” Boston Globe (8/23/10)

“Eastern States Dominate in Winning School Grants” New York Times (8/24/10)

“Duncan: Schools Should Disclose More on Teachers” Boston Globe (8/25/10)

“Colo. Among States that Fell Short in Race to the Top” NPR (8/25/10)

“Teachers, Public Sharply Divided on Key Issues” Boston Globe (8/26/10)

“Progress Stalls in Closing Gaps in D.C. Schools” Washington Post (8/27/10)

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  1. About WPLLC
    For over 30 years, the principals and staff at WPLLC have specialized in the field of education, making sure the voices of
    associations and nonprofit organizations are heard—on Capitol Hill and in the media. As a full service government affairs and
    public relations firm, we work in strong partnership with our clients to position them for the greatest success now and in the
    future. Working as a team, relationships are structured to maximize the strengths of each client; the client’s mission is our driving
    force as we help them clarify needs, set goals and craft and implement successful strategies. WPLLC provides expertise in a
    variety of services:

• Government Relations
• Public Relations & Communications
• Policy Research and Analysis
• Strategic Planning
• Grassroots Activities
• Association Management
• Meeting and Conference Planning

For more information, please call us at 202.289.3900 or visit our website at
• • •
This publication contains links to Internet sites for the convenience of World Wide Web users. Washington Partners, LLC is not
responsible for the availability or content of these external sites, nor does Washington Partners, LLC endorse, warrant or
guarantee the information, services, or products described or offered at these other Internet sites.

Copyright 2010. Washington Partners, LLC. Redistribution of this memorandum or its content outside the immediate
organization of the intended recipient without the express prior permission of Washington Partners, LLC is prohibited. Readers
are encouraged to send comments about this publication to Della Cronin at or call 202.289.3900.

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