Education Report August 6, 2010

The Education Report

AUGUST 6, 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
    The biggest news on the education funding front this week was the passage in the Senate of a
    $26 billion bill that provides $10 billion to states to prevent K-12 teacher and other school
    personnel layoffs. With the specter of going home to constituents angry about the slow
    economic recovery in mind, 61 Senators decided to finally take up and pass the measure. Before
    doing so they insisted that the bill be paid for with cuts from other programs or eliminations of
    certain tax provisions for fear of angering voters by adding further to the national debt. Two
    Republican Members—Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine—joined all
    Democrats in supporting the bill. In a highly unusual move that demonstrates the significance of
    the job creation argument for candidates this November, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
    announced that she will call the House back into session next week so Members will be
    unexpectedly returning from their August Recess to complete action on the bill as quickly as
    possible. Though passage is expected, the vote will not be without drama. Finding offsets for
    $26 billion in new spending was bound to elicit howls of complaint. Cuts in the food stamp
    program and funding for literacy and student aid administration were among the victims that
    brought protests.

While education advocates overall were very pleased with the action taken by the Congress to
help states facing serious budget problems with both education and healthcare costs in the
current economy, other troubling issues regarding spending remain on the horizon. Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) conceded this week that in order to pass a FY 2011 budget,
with necessary Republican support, approximately $6 billion will have to be eliminated from the
12 appropriations bills that have been written and acted on in both House and Senate
Appropriations Subcommittees. In addition, the bill that the Senate Appropriations Committee
adopted for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education needs to find
another $7 billion to make good on promises included in the bill for Pell Grant funding and
adequate funding for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program. Those are staggering
numbers that could lead to deep cuts in education spending in the coming year.

  1. In Brief
    Back to top.
    On Tuesday Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and Secretary of
    Education, Arne Duncan, launched the Early Learning Interagency Policy Board during the Early
    Childhood 2010: Innovation for the Next Generation conference held in Washington, D.C.
    August 3 and 4. The intention of the conference, which hosted state and local partners from a
    myriad of early childhood programs within the Department of Health and Human Services and
    the Department of Education, along with other stakeholders and federal staff, was to continue the
    work to improve collaborations and partnerships at the federal, state and community levels in
    support of integrated early childhood systems. The goal of the newly formed Policy Board is to
    foster better collaboration of research, data systems and general effectiveness of all programs
    between the two departments. "This marks an important step in our effort to help eliminate silos
    at the federal level," said Secretary Duncan. "We want to ensure that collaboration at the federal
    level mirrors the integration you're striving to achieve at the state and local levels." To read
    more about this conference visit:

On Wednesday, the Department of Education (ED) mistakenly announced the 49 winners of the
$650 million Investing in Innovation (i3) grant competition—a day early! The news was
released accidentally on August 4, after Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said last week the
winners would be announced on August 5. The news and list of winners were leaked in the
education press late on August 4. The winning applicants will serve 42 states and two territories,
with more than half intending to target students with disabilities and English language learners.
In its press release on the announcement, the Department of Education (ED) said, “A cross-
section of 49 school districts, nonprofit education organizations and institutions of higher
education have been selected from among nearly 1,700 applicants for potential funding under the
Investing in Innovation (i3) program.” It is important to note that the winners will have a critical
caveat to address, also cited in the release, “To receive a share of the $650 million in i3 grants,
the winning applicants must secure a commitment for a 20 percent private sector match by Sept.
8.” Winners will have to secure a match or have a waiver request approved by ED. After 300
reviewers evaluated the numerous applications, four groups won scale-up awards worth up to
$50 million each; 15 won validation awards of up to $30 million; and 30 won development
grants of up to $5 million. According to Jim Shelton, ED’s Assistant Deputy Secretary for
Innovation and Improvement, "We were really struck by the number of high quality applicants
and winners who were not among the usual suspects." A detailed list of the highest rated
applicants, a summary of their common characteristics and a set of FAQs related to the
announcement can be found at: The
Department will also post reviewers' comments and scores for all of the highest-rated applicants,
as well as application narratives for the highest-rated scale-up applicants on this site. In addition,
ED announced that, “In order to continue to support innovation and evidence based practices,”
the agency will host a summit in November “for other promising applicants that were not among
the applicants selected...The Department plans to highlight these high quality programs at a
forum at which potential funding partners may support efforts that the Department is unable to
directly support at this time. This list of promising applicants and the details of the event will be
announced in the coming weeks.” For more information, visit:

On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee convened
the second in what will be a series of hearings focused on for-profit postsecondary schools.
According to Committee Chair, Tom Harkin (D-IA), the explosive growth in the industry and the
resulting pressures on federal student aid programs are driving the investigative hearings.
Enrollment in for-profit schools has grown to over 2 million primarily minority and low-income
students. The ultimate question the Committee intends to explore is: Are these students—and
the taxpayers—getting a good value for the billions of dollars in federal funds that are being
investing in these institutions? Furthermore, according to Harkin, while the federal investment
in student aid has grown across all sectors—public and private as well as proprietary—the fact
that for-profit schools must meet the financial expectation of investors sets them apart and
justifies this examination into their practices. Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY), while not
disagreeing with concerns raised by the Chairman, noted that many of these questions about the
cost benefit to students of a college degree are relevant across the board. He urged the
Committee to expand the examination to cover all types of institutions of completion and
graduation rates for students who, in particular, receive Pell Grants. Throughout the hearing
other Members echoed these views. Gregory Kutz, Managing Director, Office of Forensic
Audits and Special Investigations at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlighted a
recently completed undercover investigation conducted by the GAO of 15 randomly selected
proprietary schools across the country that entailed agents posing as potential students. In all 15
instances, fraud or abusive practices were revealed, as video clips that accompanied his oral
testimony verified. This led Kutz and Members of the HELP Committee to conclude that these
practices, which included encouraging students to provide false information in order to receive
federal aid and refusing to provide students with information about cost and aid prior to their
enrollment, were pervasive to the industry. Questions from Senators present at the hearing made
it clear that there is deep concern about these practices and the failure of accrediting bodies, the
Department of Education or schools themselves to enforce the rules and regulations surrounding
eligibility to distribute federal aid. Growing concern among taxpayers about the deficit and
consequent pressure on the Congress to curb domestic spending means this investigation and
focus on the Pell Grant program will intensify in the months ahead. For more information, visit:

Following the vote to confirm to Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court on Thursday, the Senate
surprisingly passed by unanimous consent the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (S. 3307).
This bill aims to expand the use of direct certification to include the Medicaid program; establish
nutrition guidelines for school feeding programs; and increase the national reimbursement rate
for school lunches by 6 cents. The $4.5 billion legislation is fully offset by a $1 billion
“extension of U.S. Department of Agriculture authority to count bonus commodities towards the
percent rule;” restructuring Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) nutrition
education to provide $1.3 billion; and reallocating $2.2 billion of future unobligated Recovery
Act SNAP funding. In response the vote, First Lady Michelle Obama stated that the bill is a
“groundbreaking piece of legislation that will help us provide healthier school meals to children
across America" that "will play an integral role in our efforts to combat childhood obesity." The
use of SNAP funding as an offset is opposed, however, throughout the majority of the advocacy
community. Jim Weil, President of the Food and Research Action Center (FRAC) said, “If the
only way they can pay for anything is to cut food stamp benefits, then the nation is in worse
shape than we thought.” There has been no indication when a House vote might take place,
though a companion bill has been passed by the House Education and Labor Committee. For
more information, visit:

On Thursday, the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) held a briefing on “Disconnected
Youth: Defining the Population and Exploring Solutions” to provide an overview of recent
research as well as highlight two programs that focus on this population. Dan Bloom, Co-
Director of MDRC’s Health and Barriers to Employment Policy Area, presented recent data
including the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) findings that 63 percent of
dropouts obtain a GED or a diploma within eight years. In addition, findings from the Urban
Institute show that 60 percent of youths are “consistently connected to school and/or work from
18-24 [years of age],” while the other 40 percent of youth range from consistently disconnected
to switching between statuses. Forty percent is a significant portion of youth to be potentially
disconnected, he noted. Bloom’s fellow panelists explained their respective programs that aim to
help the kids once they become disconnected. Molly Baldwin, the Executive Director of Roca,
explained that she leads a performance-based, outcome-driven organization that works with
disconnected youth including those who are involved with violence; at risk of dropping out or
being expelled from school; young parents; and refugees and immigrants who need support.
Roca utilizes a High Risk Youth Intervention model that includes “relentless outreach and
follow-ups”; transformational relationships with peers and adults; addressing “stages of change”
such as pre-contemplation through sustaining positive behaviors at least 51 percent of the time;
and working with institutional partners. Roca focuses on youth who are least likely to volunteer
themselves for a program and of the 705 young people who participated in the program in FY
2010, 90 percent are still “actively engaged in a transformational relationship.” Toyce Newton,
President, CEO and Founder of Phoenix Youth and Family Services highlighted the barriers in
rural areas that disconnected youth and programs that aim to help them face. This primarily
includes a lack of funding to implement programs as well as to conduct research. Resources tend
to go toward programs with “proven outcomes” and best practices. In rural areas, it is difficult to
conduct research with a control group and random assignment, as youth are dispersed over large
areas and funding is scarce. Newton stated, “We know how to [help disconnected youth], but we
need a voice.” She urged providers of rural programs to have a “seat at the table” when
discussing policy recommendations to ensure that the broad spectrum of youth in America are
adequately assisted, with consideration of their local surroundings. The panelists agreed that it
would be valuable to examine qualitative studies and to track outcomes of youth in addition to
quantitative research to assess the effectiveness of programs. For more information, visit:

Back to top.

  1. New Publications
    “Challenges in Evaluating Special Education Teachers and English Language Learner
    Specialists” July 2010

    Back to top.


  2. In the News
    “Summer Must-Read Books for Kids? Any Book” New York Times (8/2/10)

“D.C. Schools Names Two Vendors to Provide Healthful Meals in Pilot Program” Washington
Post (8/3/10)

“Grants for Education are Awarded” New York Times (8/4/10)

“State Aid Bill to bring House Back” Politico (8/5/10)

“Witnesses Point Fingers at Schools” Boston Globe (8/5/10)

“To Paddle or Not to Paddle Students” CNN (8/5/10)
Back to top.

  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

• • •
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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