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Education Report December 17, 2010

The Education Report

DECEMBER 17, 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
    Last night, at approximately 8 p.m., a glum Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
    announced that he did not have sufficient support to adopt an Omnibus Spending bill for Fiscal
    Year (FY) 2011. In fact, he said he didn’t even have the votes necessary to pass the less costly
    year-long Continuing Resolution (CR) that had been adopted in the House of Representatives.
    Both measures required 60 supporters. His disappointment might have taken him by surprise.
    While several Democrats had previously announced they would not vote for the Omnibus bill,
    nine Republicans had agreed to the legislation. That was before Senate Minority Leader Mitch
    McConnell (R-KY) started making phone calls.

Senator Reid was left with one option—to work with Senator McConnell to draft a short term
CR that will fund the government at current levels into the New Year. In other words, the
Democrats blinked first, and though the make-up of the 111th Congress has not changed for this
lame duck session, the impact of the midterm elections are indeed being felt. It is the 112th
Congress, with a House led by new Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), that will define the level of
spending for all government agencies for FY 2011—many months after the fiscal year’s October
1, 2010 start. Majority Leader Reid will be challenged to amend or adopt the proposal put
together in the House when he has a smaller Democratic majority and consequently a weaker

The defeat of the Omnibus bill was deeply felt by education advocates who worked hard to
convince the Senate that the funding included in the bill was critical to students, teachers and
schools across the nation. It was a disappointing loss that in combination with shrinking state
and local budgets will have a profound impact on many classrooms and constituencies.

While education advocates focused almost exclusively on funding issues this week, incoming
House Education and Labor Chairman John Kline (R-MN) was meeting with his new committee
members to determine their interests and views on education reform. At a briefing on Thursday,
he announced that he might pursue a strategy to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary
Education Act (ESEA) by cutting the massive bill into smaller installments—either by Title or
issue. Congressman Kline stated very clearly that he does not believe a large authorization bill
can be moved in any other manor. He said to his colleagues, “I’m increasingly of the notion that
we’re going to do this in smaller steps rather than a big reauthorization.” Rumors of this strategy
have been circulating in the House for some time and have been met with consistent claims of
“that can’t work in the Senate.” It sounds like another stalemate in the making.

While education advocates are already preparing for the 112th Congress, the 111th still has
business to finish before the end of the year. The schedule for adjournment of the 111th
Congress remains unclear, but many predict Christmas Eve. There’s a Grinch joke in there
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  1. In Brief
    On Wednesday, the College Board and the New Teacher Center joined forces to sponsor a
    briefing on the value of mentoring programs for new teachers. Four new and veteran teachers
    shared their experiences and the effect of good teacher mentoring programs on student outcomes.
    The briefing featured the stories of two teachers detailed in “Teachers Are the Center of
    Education: Mentoring, Teaching and Improving Student Learning,” a new report released by the
    two organizations and Phi Delta Kappa International (PDKI). The report, which includes
    statements from teachers and their mentors, provides educators, administrators and policymakers
    a unique view into the long-term benefits of mentoring programs. The report makes five
    recommendations: 1) All first- and second-year teachers must be paired with a full-time mentor;
    2) Mentors must support teachers through a variety of proven practices, including: frequent and
    regular meetings with new teachers that focus on teaching and learning, classroom observations,
    tailored pre- and in-service professional development on analysis of student data, support for
    peer networking, and teaching of leadership development skills; 3) The federal government, or a
    coalition of states, must design common standards for mentoring that include outcomes,
    professional development and program components; 4) Mentoring programs must provide time
    for mentor preparation and ongoing learning, new teacher peer networking, new teacher pre- and
    in-service professional development and the development of mentor and new teacher leadership
    skills; and 5) All mentoring programs must incorporate research to measure the impact on
    teacher retention, teacher effectiveness and student achievement. During the briefing, new
    teachers shared compelling stories about their initial experiences in the classroom, their hopes
    and fears and the impact of high-quality mentoring programs on their professional experiences.
    Additionally, veteran teachers shared experiences in working with their less experienced
    colleagues and the guiding principles for being a good mentor. For more information, go to

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced a list of final supplemental priorities to be
considered for discretionary grant programs beginning in FY 2011 on Wednesday. The purpose
of the list, which includes 16 priorities, is to focus federal funding on services that address the
“greatest educational need.” The individual priorities highlight varying aspects of three key
areas: cradle-to-career educational reforms; addressing the needs of student subgroups; and
working toward continuous systematic improvement. ED aims to improve the learning
environment of all students so that they may exhibit improved academic achievement and lead
America to reaching President Obama’s goal of reclaiming the top spot among nations in the
proportion of citizens who possess postsecondary credentials by 2020. To read the complete
announcement, visit:

Flanked by First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the
President signed the Health, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307) into law during a ceremony at the
Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Washington, DC, on Monday. This bill was passed
unanimously in the Senate, but met resistance in the House among Democratic members because
the offsets that pay for the bill’s provisions cut future funding for the Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program (SNAP). In order to ensure the House passed this legislation, the White
House promised to restore the cuts to the SNAP program later. House Democrats are not alone
in their concerns. The National School Board Association has voiced opposition, as have other
education-based organizations, regarding the undue burden this will place on schools during
times when state and district budgets are already feeling squeezed. Conversely, others note that
115,000 more students will have access to school meal programs under the new law, and red tape
and paperwork will be reduced, making it easier for parents to enroll their children in these
programs. In addition, nutritional standards will help ensure that kids have access to healthy
food options; and communities and schools will receive assistance in setting up local farm-to-
school networks to ensure that more fresh local foods are used in school meals. Moving forward,
the implementation phase will be the focus of all stakeholders involved and watched closely. For
more information, visit:
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  1. New Publications
    “Teachers Are the Center of Education: Mentoring, Teaching and Improving Student Learning”
    (December 2010)

“State Test Score Trends through 2008-09, Part 2: Slow and Uneven Progress in Narrowing
Gaps” (December 2010) http://www.cep-

“Charter Schools: A Report on Rethinking the Federal Role in Education” (December 2010)

“Are Bad Schools Immortal? The Scarcity of Turnarounds and Shutdowns in Both Charter and
District Sectors” (December 2010)

“School Improvement Grants: Take 2” (December 2010)
Back to top.

  1. In the News
    “New Challenges for Obama’s Education Agenda in the Face of a G.O.P.-Led House” New
    York Times (12/11/10)

“Getting Ahead in India Means Getting Out of Town” New York Times (12/12/10)

“Montgomery Schools Chief Wants $60M More, Raises for Employees” Washington Post

“College-Educated and Illegal: Immigrants Pin Job Hopes on DREAM Act” Christian Science
Monitor (12/15/10)

“Highlights of the Tax Package Passed by the Senate” Boston Globe (12/16/10)

“Congress Passes Extension on Bush-Era Tax Cuts” Washington Post (12/17/10)
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

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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