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Education Report January 14, 2011

The Education Report

JANUARY 14, 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. Education Week Releases Quality Counts 2011
  3. In Brief
  4. New Publications
  5. In the News
  6. About WPLLC

  7. Budget and Appropriations
    Events that take place around the nation have a way of overtaking schedules and plans on Capitol
    Hill. That was certainly the case this week after the horrific shootings in Tucson, Arizona. The
    legislative calendar was put on hold. Members and their staff in the leadership and in
    Congressional offices turned their attention inward. Security matters and finding ways to
    establish and maintain a more collegial tone for communications between the parties were the
    topics that came into focus. Congress was, in effect, in recess. The Senate will remain that way
    until later in the month. The House will return next week to take up the Patient’s Rights Repeal
    Act (H.R. 2), with promises of a more civil tone characterizing the debate.

While we are still awaiting final announcements about Congressional committee assignments, a
few important decisions were announced this week that are of interest to education advocates.
Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) will take over as Ranking Republican on the Senate Labor,
Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee of Appropriations, replacing Senator
Thad Cochran (R-MS). Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) will take the Ranking
Democratic position on the same House Subcommittee, while the Chairmanship falls to
Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-MT).

On the authorizing front, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee
Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) announced his plans to introduce an Elementary and Secondary
Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill by Easter, with floor consideration prior to the August
recess. It is an ambitious schedule, but given the fact that the Committee has been working on a
draft nonstop for several years, it may well be doable. In the House, the Education and the
Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) made it clear this week that the Committee
will begin its work with a series of oversight hearings on both American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding and the education jobs bill before moving on to completing
work on the Workforce Investment Act. ESEA would be taken up after that. He said he wanted
to give his colleagues on the Education and the Workforce Committee time to get to know the
legislation and the issues of concern. He also repeated his desire to consider the bill in smaller
parts; his support for streamlining and consolidating programs; what he considers to be the
importance of giving local communities greater flexibility and control; and his strong support for
teacher merit pay. He also voiced opposition to federal involvement in Common Core State
Standards, further funding for the Race to the Top (RTTT) program and the four school
improvement turnaround models that have been promoted by the administration as part of the
School Improvement Grant program.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has also been in the news this week, making the case for
moving an ESEA reauthorization bill this year and taking time to meet with the new Congress.
He will accompany Chairman Kline on a trip to Minnesota next week to visit schools and talk
with teachers and parents in the district. There have also been strong hints that President Obama
will highlight the ESEA bill in his State of the Union speech, now set for January 25th.
Back to top.

  1. Education Week Releases Quality Counts 2011
    On Tuesday, Education Week released their 15th annual Quality Counts report, Uncertain Forecast:
    Education Adjusts to a New Economic Reality. The report utilizes data from the Editorial Projects in
    Education (EPE) Research Center’s 50-state policy survey and analysis to give an in depth look into
    key education policy and achievement indicators and provides a focus on the finances of public
    schools around the country to measure the impact of the recent recession on education. The aim is to
    provide a foundation for dialogue around how states and school districts can begin and continue
    reform efforts with less funding by providing state data and experiences.

Christopher Swanson, the Vice President of EPE, presented the report findings. Swanson
reminded the audience that the two primary goals of the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act (ARRA) were to save jobs and upgrade the workforce. K-12 education received $79.3
billion in ARRA funding, and most of the funds were divvied up among states, based on a
formula driven by populations. Based on data from recipients of ARRA funding, EPE research
found that 4.2 education jobs were saved or created per $1 million dollars of ARRA funding
versus a national average of 2.7 jobs saved or created per $1 million in other ARRA funding,
proving that the investment in education paid off. At the state level, 34 states have implemented
cuts in K-12 education or early education due to the recession, and 43 states have made higher
education cuts. A common trend is extending more flexibility to districts versus taking on large
scale reform. Twenty-one states have given districts more flexibility in using their education aid,
and 10 states are allowing flexibility in the structure of the school year and day.

Amy Hightower, the Director of the EPE Research Center, shared the annually-anticipated
national report card. The exercise evaluates states’ performance across a number of indicators,
identifying the best and worst performers, and also averages those scores together. Across all of
the measured indicators, for the third consecutive year, Maryland is the top performer, earning a
B-plus, with South Dakota, the District of Columbia and Nebraska settling at the bottom with D-
pluses. The national average is a C, unchanged from last year. On the K-12 Achievement Index,
which measures the performance of a state by examining 18 indicators such as improvement
overtime, current achievement and poverty-based gaps, Massachusetts was the top performer,
earning a B. The average state earned a D-plus on this index. The national average of C-plus
was unchanged from last year’s performance on the Chance-for-Success Index, which measures
opportunities for students to succeed throughout life. Massachusetts earned the only A on this
index, the fourth year in a row with the top ranking, followed by Connecticut, New Hampshire
and New Jersey, each earning an A-minus. The only category to see marked improvement:
Transitions and Alignment, measuring alignment among all levels of education throughout the
education pipeline. The national average rose to a C-plus from a C in 2009. Five states earned
an A this year, and some attribute the improvement to efforts such as the Common Core State
Standards and Race to the Top (RTTT).

Education Week also hosted experts who provided context for the budget discussion specifically
pertaining to special education and the federal view of K-12 education. Thomas Parrish, the
Director of the Center for Special Education Finance at the American Institute for
Research, discussed maximizing investments in special education services. His research
revealed that the common strategy of inclusion in general classrooms produced positive results.
Overall, the “best strategy for getting more money in special education is proving the current
money is being used and proving results,” Parrish concluded. Later, an expert panel agreed that
while the fate of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is
unknown, and the 112th Congress could place their focus on narrow education issues such as
vouchers, schools, districts and states must do more with less and find creative ways to continue
to make significant academic gains during tremendously strained fiscal times. For more
information about this event, visit:

Back to top.

  1. In Brief
    On Monday, the Department of Education (ED) filed a notice of proposed revisions to the
    Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund competition, aiming to provide the Department more flexibility
    in deciding priorities for would-be applicants and the criteria on which they will be judged.
    Most significantly, the proposed revisions include relaxing the provision that winners of the
    competition must find a private-sector partner to match at least 20 percent of the awarded funds.
    This flexibility could benefit applicants such as smaller, rural districts that may have difficulty
    finding matching funds. The proposed revisions would also allow overall greater flexibility in
    naming winners of the three types of grants (scale up, validation and development), in that ED
    would have the authority to use one of more of the selection criteria listed in the 2010
    requirements to allow a broader pool of potential winners. ED explained, “We believe that the
    proposed change will enable the Department to administer this program more effectively,
    simplify the application and review processes, better align the selection criteria used for the
    different types of grants under this program with the critical aims of that specific grant type, and
    better ensure that i3 projects address the most critical needs of education in a given year.”
    Comments on the proposed changes are due February 9, 2011. For more information and to read
    the proposed revisions, visit!documentDetail;D=ED-2011-OII-
    Back to top.

  2. New Publications
    “Gang Prevention: An Overview of Research and Programs” (December 2010)

    “Advancing Adolescent Literacy: The Cornerstone of School Reform” (December 2010)

“School Passports: Making the Stimulus Pay Off for Students and State Budgets” (January 2011)

“Stretching the School Dollar: A Brief for State Policymakers” (January 2011)
Back to top.

  1. In the News
    “U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan Speaks up on D.C. Schools Leadership” Washington
    Post (1/10/11)

“60 First Graders, 4 Teachers, One Loud New Way to Learn” New York Times (1/10/11)

“School Changes Pushed by Rhee” Wall Street Journal (1/11/11)

“Republican School Board in N.C. Backed by the Tea Party Abolishes Integration Policy”
Washington Post (1/12/11)

“Los Angeles Names New Schools Chief” Wall Street Journal (1/12/11)

“In Document, Peek at City Plans to Replace Schools” New York Times (1/13/11)

“New Calif. Gov. Shakes Up Education Policy” Education Week (1/14/11)

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
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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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