Education Week - September 23, 2015 - (Page 13)

GOVERNMENT & POLITICS From Pre-K to Higher Ed., Duncan Tour Touts Priorities By Alyson Klein Champaign, Ill. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan used his annual back-to-school bus tour last week to prod Congress to invest in early education and tout the Obama administration's latest fix to the notoriously mind-boggling federal financial aid process. But along the way, he was dogged by questions about some of his administration's controversial moves on K-12: championing teacher evaluations tied to student performance, expanding charter schools, and of course, standardized testing. The secretary's sixth annual trek-which sought to touch on every part of the education spectrum, from early childhood to career development-took Duncan through Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and western Pennsylvania. He kicked off the five-day tour in Iowa, where he and President Barack Obama held an event at a high school in Des Moines that touched on the topic of college aid. The federal government has already taken some of the pain out of completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, by giving students the chance to have a portion of their forms filled out automatically, and using their families' tax information already on file at the Internal Revenue Service. But that hasn't solved the whole problem, in part because students now begin filling out financial-aid forms in January, when not everyone has done their taxes for the year. The White House wants to allow students to get started much sooner, beginning in October, and Charlie Neibergall/AP FAFSA Changes to use tax information from the year before to automatically fill out the form. The change, which will kick in as of October 2016, will likely mean that more students will be eligible for Pell Grants and other assistance. In fact, the White House estimates that 2 million current college students could have had access to Pell Grants-which help low-income students pay for college-but didn't because they never filed the proper forms. Duncan told reporters in a conference call last week that he believes the new rules will increase financial aid and college access for "literally hundreds of thousands" more students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds and those who are the first in their families to go to college. Those students, he said, have long experienced the 108-question FAFSA as a "barrier to financial aid." "This shift in the time frame may not seem like a big deal, but it's a huge deal," he said. It will "open the door to a new world of opportunity" for many students and families "who historically have been locked out." Handing out more federal aid to students, however, comes with a price tag, though Duncan said that the cost would be "very, very minor." When pressed, he said the government projects that the change would cost about 1 percent of the total annual cost of the Pell Grant program, which was an estimated $31.4 billion in fiscal year 2015. Top Republicans in Congress on education policy, including Rep. John Kline of Minnesota and Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, say the policy goes in the right direction, but they worry that the administration doesn't have a "responsible" plan to cover the cost. But at a bus tour stop at Purdue University in West Lafeyette, Ind., Duncan got kudos from Ted Malone, the school's executive di- Joined by President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speaks during a town hall meeting at North High School in Des Moines, Iowa. The first stop on the secretary's annual back-to-school bus tour focused on college aid. PAGE 15 > GOP Presidential Debaters Give Glancing Mention to Education By Andrew Ujifusa Despite roughly five hours of debate between Republican presidential hopefuls at their latest two-tiered showdown last week, discussion of education amounted to little more than a few offhand references. Unlike the August GOP debate, which featured a substantive exchange about the Common Core State Standards between two candidates, there was no such interplay about the standards-or any other K-12 topic. That was true both of the main event, featuring the 11 candidates with the best poll numbers, and the undercard, featuring four lower-polling candidates. And none of the CNN moderators asked a direct question about education, in a debate that skewed heavily toward subjects such as foreign policy. paign trail in recent weeks. The one prominent exception was last month, when six Republican candidates, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former The latest face-off among Republicans running for the White House included allusions to federal overreach, but little of substance on K-12 issues. Although the Democratic candidates' debate on Oct. 13 provides a fresh opportunity for schools to get more attention, education hasn't gotten much notice from the candidates in either party on the cam- Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, focused on K-12 policy at a New Hampshire forum hosted by The Seventy Four, an education news and opinion website. When public school policy did come up at the Sept. 16 debate- held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, in Simi Valley, Calif.-it did so as part of attacks against alleged overregulation by Washington and policies backed by President Barack Obama and his administration. Common Core Mentioned In the main event, developer Donald Trump was the only candidate to directly mention the common core. In an exchange with Bush, Trump mentioned tangentially that the former governor supports the common core, which the business executive deemed "is also a disaster." It's an attack Trump has lodged against Bush before-among the 16 GOP candidates, only Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich support the common core. (All but three of the 46 states that adopted the common core along with the District of Columbia have officially kept the standards, though the pace and nature of their implementation of it has varied.) Bush did not respond to Trump's gibe. But Bush did subsequently highlight one of his signature education policy accomplishments during his tenure in Florida: the creation of what he called in the debate "the largest voucher program in the country." The state's PAGE 15 > EDUCATION WEEK | September 23, 2015 | | 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - September 23, 2015

Education Week - September 23, 2015
Research Agency Faces Deep Cuts In Budget Bills
Schools Seek Split From Confederacy
English-Learner Tests Moving to Digital Realm
Despite Research on Teens’ Sleep, Change to School Start Times Difficult
News in Brief
Report Roundup
To Combat Inequity, Ferguson Panel Urges K-12 Changes
Study: KIPP Confers an Edge in Academics But Not in Attitudes
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Online Credit Recovery in Need of Overhaul, Study Says
Blogs of the Week
From Pre-K to Higher Ed., Duncan Tour Touts Priorities
GOP Presidential Debaters Give Glancing Mention to Education
In Wide-Ranging Discussion, Duncan Mulls Issues, Agenda
ANN MYERS & JILL BERKOWICZ: STEM Doesn’t Narrow the Curriculum
MARY ANN ZEHR: Can a Former Journalist Teach English-Language Learners to Write?
GREG MILO: Why Do Students Hate History? Some Thoughts on the ‘Boring’ Social Studies
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
CAROL DWECK: Growth Mindset, Revisited

Education Week - September 23, 2015