Education Week - January 9, 2013 - (Page 22)

22 EDUCATION WEEK n JANUARY 9, 2013 n GOVERNMENT POLITICS POLICY BRIEF K-12 Aid Outlook Murky, Despite ‘Cliff’ Deal By Alyson Klein Federal education programs have a temporary reprieve from what would have been the biggest spending cuts in recent history, but they still face a murky funding forecast under the measure enacted last week to deal with the so-called fiscal cliff. The agreement reached by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama would postpone until March 1 a series of acrossthe-board cuts set to hit a broad swath of programs, including aid for K-12 education. The legislation gives lawmakers time to work out a more sweeping budget agreement, but essentially sets up yet another major fiscal fight in the coming two months. Congress will need to come up with new legislation to cope with the cuts—known in Washington political circles as “sequestration”—by March. That could involve a fresh threat of domestic-spending cuts, which, in turn, could put education programs back on the chopping block. The fiscal-cliff deal is “sort of like a temporary stay of execution,” said Joel Packer, the executive director of the Committee for Education Funding, a lobbying coalition of 80 education groups based in Washington. “We’re hoping we get Calif. Hopes Dashed For NCLB Waiver California’s request for a waiver from mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act will be denied, according to state and federal officials. The state learned of the pending denial in a phone call from U.S. Department of Education officials on Dec. 21, but the official letter still hadn’t gone out as of late last week. This means the most populous state in the country will be stuck with a much-maligned nclb law as it is for the foreseeable future. And fast approaching is the 2013-14 school year, when the law requires all students to be proficient in math and reading on state tests. As a result, thousands of California schools will likely fail to make adequate yearly progress, the official yardstick under the nclb law. California Department of Education spokesman Paul Hefner said there’s been no discussion at this point of amending its waiver request. In a Dec. 21 letter to local superintendents, state schools chief Tom Torlakson and board of education Chairman Michael W. Kirst indicated that California would use its own performance index as “the key indicator” in determining whether schools and districts are making adequate progress. So far, 34 states and the District of Columbia have waivers from core components of the nclb law. The Education Department created the waiver process with the rewrite of the overarching law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, still stalled in Congress. n pardoned. .... It just creates sort of another cliff two months from now.” What’s more, the federal government is operating under a temporary budget, called a continuing resolution, which expires at the end of March. Lawmakers will have to figure out a final budget for fiscal year 2013, which began Oct. 1, or face the prospect of a government shutdown. To top it off, the nation has hit the federal debt ceiling, meaning the government will need new legislation to be allowed to borrow more money—and keep agencies and programs in business. A measure to deal with that issue will also need to be approved in the next couple of months. Education advocates fear the PAGE 24 > President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden leave the podium after the president made a statement about passage of a deal on the so-called fiscal cliff that includes postponing until March 1 a series of acrossthe-board federal funding cuts, including to domestic programs such as education. District Race to Top Winners Split $400 Million Pot By Michele McNeil The first federal Race to the Top competition that reaches down to the local level leaves most large, urban districts out of the winners’ circle in favor of charter schools, midsize systems, and two large consortia of school districts—all of which must now turn to implementing proposals that collectively have won them $400 million. The 16 winners, announced last month by the U.S. Department of Education, beat out more than 350 other applicants and include three charter school organizations, traditional districts such as Carson City, Nev., and Guilford County, N.C., and a group of 22 rural districts from Kentucky. Florida’s Miami-Dade County school system is the biggest urban district on the list. It won the coveted Broad Prize last year. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the winners’ circle includes “a really good mix” of districts that are already education reform leaders and districts that have not received as much attention. “We know that school districts have been hungry to drive reform at the local level,” Mr. Duncan said in a Dec. 11 call with reporters. More than 300 outside peer reviewers helped score the applications. A single point was all that separated the applicant that ranked 16th—the Lindsay Unified School District, in California—and the two that tied for 17th place and were not funded, which were the Mapleton public schools in Colorado and the Jefferson City schools in Missouri. Large districts such as New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia scored far outside the winners’ circle. WINNERS CIRCLE The U.S. Department of Education picked 16 recipients for the first Race to the Top grants focused on the district level: CARSON CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT (Nevada) $10 million CHARLESTON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT (South Carolina) $19.4 million GALT JOINT UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT (California) $10 million GREEN RIVER REGIONAL EDUCATIONAL COOPERATIVE (Kentucky) $40 million GUILFORD COUNTY SCHOOLS (North Carolina) $30 million HARMONY SCIENCE ACADEMY (Harmony Public Schools, Texas) $29.9 million IDEA PUBLIC SCHOOLS (Texas) $29.2 million IREDELL-STATESVILLE SCHOOLS (North Carolina) $20 million KIPP DC (District of Columbia) $10 million LINDSAY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT (California) $10 million METROPOLITAN SCHOOL DISTRICT OF WARREN TOWNSHIP (Indiana) $28.6 million MIDDLETOWN CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT (New York) $20 million NEW HAVEN UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT (California) $29.4 million PUGET SOUND EDUCATIONAL SERVICE DISTRICT (Washington) $40 million SCHOOL BOARD OF MIAMIDADE COUNTY (Florida) $30 million ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS (Colorado) $16.6 million SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education Charles Dharapak/AP Spreading the Cash This latest version of the wellknown Race to the Top brand, which has become the Obama administration’s main lever for education change, is meant to spark improvements at the district level, particularly in the area of personalized learning. The contest was also meant to spread Race to the Top money around in states that had not won before—and among districts in rural America. Indeed, 11 of the 16 districts or groups of districts are in states that did not win the original 12 Race to the Top grants for states in 2010. Few of the winners, however, serve mostly rural students, with the largest concentration in the Kentucky coopPAGE 25 > California’s request was a long shot in the first place. The state tried to go its own way, essentially agreeing, at least in part, to two of the department’s three principles—common standards and a differentiated accountability system—while ignoring the third, a teacher evaluation system that takes student outcomes into account. The federal Education Department, which would not comment on the California decision, has maintained that states could follow all of the rules to get a waiver, or follow nclb as written. However, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has not closed the door on a third option: creating waivers for individual districts in states that do not have a general statelevel waiver. He has said that is an option he’s considering. —ALYSON KLEIN & MICHELE McNEIL

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 9, 2013

Education Week - January 9, 2013
State Lawmakers Gear for Action On Broad K-12 Issues Menu
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Teachers Seek Specialized Peer Networks
Shootings Revive Debates on Security
Student-Press Ruling Resonates From 1988
News in Brief
Report Roundup
FOCUS ON: INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE: IB Supporters Tout Program’s Links With Common Core
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Federal Effort Aims to Bridge Ed. Tech., Learning Sciences
U.S. Students Exceed International Average, But Lag Some Asian Nations in Math, Science
New Global Results Spark Questions On Finland’s Standing
Head Start Gains Found to Fade By 3rd Grade in Latest Study
Testing Group Selects Exam to Gauge ‘College Readiness’
State Chiefs Pledge Teacher Prep, Licensing Upgrades
Blogs of the Week
Post-Tragedy, Difficult Choices Loom
At Sandy Hook, Grim Day Unfolds
Legal, Logistical Concerns Seen In Call to Arm Adults
Tragedy Sets Off Fresh Debate Over Federal Gun-Policy Role
Advocates Worry Shootings Will Deepen Autism’s Stigma
K-12 Aid Outlook Murky, Despite ‘Cliff’ Deal
District Race to Top Winners Split $400 Million Pot
Policy Brief
Top State Ed. Positions Turn Over as Year Ends
CAROLYN LUNSFORD MEARS: After the Tragedy, What Next?
DAVID YOUNG & J.B. BUXTON: Language Education We Can Use
W. JAMES POPHAM: Formative Assessment’s ‘Advocatable Moment’
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
JEFFREY R. HENIG: Reading the Future of Education Policy

Education Week - January 9, 2013