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Education Report February 4, 2011

The Education Report

FEBRUARY 4, 2011
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
    As the March 4th expiration date for the continuing resolution (CR) approaches, Members of
    Congress are finally getting down to the business of writing a budget for FY 2011. Though the
    Senate remains in a “wait and see” mode, Republican leaders in the House announced that
    overall spending for the fiscal year that began on October 1, 2010 will be reduced by $43 billion-

- 9.3% below the previous year. The new allocation for the Labor, Health and Human Services
and Education budget is slightly better—a cut of 7.3% below the amount in the current
Continuing Resolution (CR). Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) acknowledged that this
cut is less than promised on the campaign trail, but he called it “the first step in restoring the trust
of the American people and rebuilding the American economy.” Appropriations Committee
Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) also announced that the spending bill that will be presented to
House Members next week for debate will cut funding at all federal agencies and said, "These
cuts will not be easy, they will be broad and deep, [and] they will affect every congressional
district.” Emphasizing this point, he said the new CR will “make the largest series of spending
cuts in history.” Needless to say these actions gave pause to all education advocates.

As if the budget news were not bad enough, on the other side of the Capitol, the Senate agreed to
pay for the repeal of a troublesome provision in the Health Care Reform bill by giving the
Administration the authority to rescind $40 billion in unobligated FY 2010 appropriations as
they see fit. Appropriators were particularly outraged that their colleagues ceded the authority to
determine government spending priorities to the executive branch. This followed the defeat of
an amendment to repeal the Health Care Reform Act, which failed on a predicted party line vote.
Though the Senate has not yet acted on the CR set to expire March 4, it is anticipated that the
Omnibus spending bill that failed last winter will serve as the chamber’s initial negotiation
position. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) made news this
week when he announced that the CR for FY 2011 would not contain earmarks—a move that
had been anticipated for FY 2012, but not the current year.

The President’s comments in his State of the Union address regarding the need to reauthorize the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in the current Congress seemed to spur the
interest of authorizers this week. A bi-cameral, bipartisan meeting with education leaders and
the administration about a timetable for the reauthorization was held on Wednesday, and the
following day House Education and the Workforce Committee Chair John Kline (R-MN)
announced that the first hearing of the 112th Congress on the topic is scheduled for Thursday,
February 10th. In the Senate, advocates are discussing their priorities with Members and staff in
anticipation of Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman
Tom Harkin’s intention to introduce a reauthorization bill this spring.
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  1. In Brief
    On Wednesday, the Pathways to Prosperity Project, which is based at the Harvard Graduate
    School of Education, released a new report that examines the reasons the U.S. has failed to
    adequately prepare young adults for post secondary and/or career options. “Pathways to
    Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young American for the 21st Century” contends
    that “our national strategy for education and youth development has been too narrowly focused
    on an academic, classroom-based approach.” In response, the report advocates for the
    development of a comprehensive pathways network to serve students in high school and beyond.
    This new pathways system would be based on three elements: 1) development of a broader
    vision of school reform that embraces multiple pathways instead of the current emphasis on a
    single pathway to success, i.e., attending and graduating from a four-year college; 2) an
    expanded role for employers in supporting a pathways system by providing more work-based
    learning experiences and jobs related to a program of study; and 3) development of a new social
    compact between society and young people, pledging that by their mid-20s, every young adult
    will be equipped with the education and experience needed to lead a successful life. Arne
    Duncan, Secretary of Education, attended the event and applauded the report’s “frank
    discussion” of the “college for all” movement and asserted that for too long, career technical
    education (CTE) has been the “neglected stepchild of education reform.” Instead, the mission of
    CTE must change, and, according to Duncan, “the goal of CTE 2.0 must be to earn a post
    secondary degree or industry certification and land a job.” He further stressed that the focus of
    education reform must be both college- and career-readiness. CTE students must have access to
    both rigorous academic courses and training without the need for remediation. All students need
    to develop employability skills, such as problem solving and critical thinking skills, which
    Duncan noted are addressed in the Common Core standards. In the end, strong CTE programs
    create more interest and connection to school, which yields increased graduation rates, giving
    more students a diploma or an industry-recognized certification, ultimately preparing a more
    competitive 21st Century workforce. For more information about the report and event go to:

On Wednesday, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute held an event featuring a lively debate from an
expert panel on a report released in December titled, “Are Bad Schools Immortal? The Scarcity
of Turnarounds and Shutdowns in Both Charter and District Schools.” Moderator Michael
Petrilli, Executive Vice President at the Fordham Institute, opened the event by playing the
trailer for the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray. He likened the central plot of
the movie--Bill Murray?s character reliving February 2 until he “gets it right,” to the plight of
“bad schools” being stuck in a cycle of failed reform attempts, as the report details. Panelist
David Struit, author of the report and a founding partner at Basis Policy Research, said, “I wish
we found more positive results,” to open his remarks. The report aims to address questions
around comparing improvement and shut down rates among low-performing charter and district
schools in ten states. The findings are based on publicly available data, including reading and
math proficiency rates and adequate yearly progress (AYP) determinations. The report found
little difference in the patterns of persistently low-performing charter and district schools. The
discussion that followed debated many points in the report and other education related topics.
Jeanne Allen, the founder and President of the Center for Education Reform, questioned the
report?s data, suggesting that that student-level data is key to completing a more sound study.
Justin Cohen, President of the School Turnaround Group at Mass Insight Education, encouraged
focusing on making “major [organizational] changes” rather than aiming for small improvements
in school turnaround efforts. Pointing out that “Groundhog Day” eventually ends with Bill
Murray learning his lesson, he argued that there is hope for low-performing schools as well.
Elaine Weiss, the National Coordinator for the Broader Bolder Approach to Education,
commented on the labeling of a school as “low-performing,” arguing that the root of the problem
may not lie in the schools, but in the students who attend these schools; they are more likely than
others to arrive at elementary school already one to two years academically, socially and
emotionally behind their peers attending other schools. For more information and view the
report, visit

The Center For American Progress (CAP) marked the release of the report, “Turning Around the
Nation?s Lowest-Performing Schools” on Friday, with a panel discussion featuring Karen
Baroody, Managing Director of the Education Resource Strategies, Inc.; James McIntyre,
Superintendent of the Knox County Schools in Tennessee; and Jason Willis, the Chief Financial
Officer of the Stockton Unified School District in California. Moderated by Raegen Miller,
Assistant Director for Education Policy at CAP, the discussion focused on the report?s outline of
the five “most” effective elements of successful efforts to turn around the nation?s lowest
performing schools: 1) Understanding what each school needs; 2) Quantifying school resources
and how they are used; 3) Prioritizing investments; 4) Customizing the strategy to each school;
and 5) Changing the district, not just the school. In implementing a strategy that encompasses
these five key elements, Baroody said that it is crucial to secure strong leaders and expert
teachers and provide help for at-risk students. While quality staff and interventions are not
necessarily expensive, due to union contracts these two mission critical planks are difficult to
secure. Panelists shared their experiences and observed elements of effective school turnaround
strategies, and both McIntyre and Willis agreed that while more money would always be well
received, it is how scarce resources are allocated that makes the difference. McIntyre stated that
“you can do anything, just not everything” and can certainly make significant progress during
tight budget times. Willis cited that utilizing non-profits to provide essential services for
students in these schools is imperative to success as well. While schools can„t provide the
wraparound services necessary, leaning on these entities meets essential needs without straining
schools? cash flow. Human capital management in schools, both panelists agreed, is paramount
and struggling schools must develop a pipeline of school leaders and teachers. McIntyre said
that when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is reauthorized, it must provide
flexibility to schools and focus on creating the correct incentives for districts. For more
information on this event, visit :

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

“Defeating Creationism in the Courtroom, But Not in the Classroom” (January 2011)

“Building Charter School Quality in Colorado” (January 2011)

“Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st
Century” (February 2011)

“Turning Around the Nation's Lowest Performing Schools: Five Steps Districts Can Take to
Improve Their Chances of Success” (February 2011)

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  1. In the News
    “G.O.P. Governors Take Aim at Teacher Tenure” New York Times (1/31/11)

“Does Everyone Need a College Degree? Maybe Not, Says Harvard Study” Christian Science
Monitor (2/2/11)

“Virginia Legislators Approve Higher Ed Legislation” Boston Globe (2/2/11)

“House Republicans Propose $32 Billion in Budget Cuts” Washington Post (2/3/11)

“School Meeting Draws Protest” Wall Street Journal (2/4/11)
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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 2011. 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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