Archive for the 'National Policy' Category

Round 2 Race to the Top winners to be announced tomorrow? — UPDATED

August 23rd, 2010 by Robert Lowry

There are so far unconfirmed reports that tomorrow the U.S. Education Department will announce round two winners in its $3.4 billion Race to the Top reform initiative.

UPDATE:  Education Week and other sources are saying it has been confirmed that second round Race to the Top winners will be announced tomorrow

New York is among the 18 states and the District of Columbia competing as finalists this time around.

Also, last week, gothamschools.org reported on how New York State’s August 10 presentation to Race to the Top reviewers went, in the eyes of the state’s team.

The team included Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, Commissioner David Steiner, State Education Department Senior Deputy Commissioner John King, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, and New York City teacher union president Michael Mulgrew.

GothamSchools reported Chancellor Tisch said that “no surprises” came from the judges during the state’s 90-minute presentation and question-and-answer session two weeks ago and that she added, “I just thought it was a very fair, frank conversation.”

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Governor, Legislature agree on plan for federal Education Jobs Fund money

August 19th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

Late yesterday, Governor Paterson and legislative leaders released a letter committing to approve a plan to allocate New York State’s $607 million share of funding from the federal Education Jobs Fund approved earlier this month by Congress and President Obama.  They also announced that the state has submitted its application for the funding to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Read the rest of this entry »

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Senator Schumer releases unofficial district allocations from federal Education Jobs Fund — UPDATED

August 10th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer has released estimates of allocations from the federal Education Jobs Fund for New York State school districts.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation creating the fund today; it was passed by the Senate last week.

New York State’s share of the $10 billion authorized nationwide is $607 million.

The Senator’s estimates are unofficial; the state must adopt an allocation scheme.  There are reports that the State Assembly and Senate could be called back next week to take actions necessary for the state to expend the federal aid.

You can see the Senator’s estimates here.  Again they are unofficial. Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Finance, National Policy | 2 Comments »

A Bob and Bob show on public radio

August 9th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

Last week, Council Executive Director Bob Reidy and I were guests on Albany public radio’s “Vox Pop” call-in show.

Our scheduled topics were the federal Race to the Top initiative and the Education Department’s recent change in cut scores for the grade 3 through 8 assessments.

Several of the callers were teachers expressing opinions about “teaching to the test” and merit pay plans to link compensation and student performance.

You can listen to the hour-long show here.

Host Alan Chartock told us the program is heard in six states.

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Good news, for a change — federal help on the way for Medicaid and schools

August 5th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

Earlier in the week I reported that the Assembly and Senate had both approved Governor Paterson’s proposal to authorize equal, across the board reductions in most areas of state spending, including School Aid, in order to accommodate a feared loss of $1.085 billion in anticipated additional federal help in paying for Medicaid.

Yesterday, however, there was a breakthrough in the U.S. Senate, which approved an amendment continue some of this additional federal aid.  The same legislation also authorizes an “Education Jobs Fund,” to help school systems create or maintain positions in the current school year.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass corresponding legislation early next week.  The House has previously approved similar initiatives, so passage is deemed certain.

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Finance, National Policy, State Budget | 1 Comment »

New York chosen as Race to the Top finalist

July 27th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

Education Week and others are reporting that New York and seventeen other states plus the District of Columbia have been chosen today as second round finalists in the federal Race to the Top competition.

More on this to come…

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Race to the Top 2nd chance finalists to be announced today — revised

July 27th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

Today New York and other states seeking a share of federal Race to the Top education reform funding find out whether they have made it to the final round.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will announce the finalists in a speech at 12:30 1 pm today at the National Press Club in Washington.

You can watch the speech live here and read the announcement here when it is posted — expected to be around 1 pm.

I’ll be surprised if something doesn’t leak out before noon, however.

I expect that New York will be among the finalists.  So does an Education Week blogger.

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Race to the Top: A better chance this time?

June 10th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

Earlier this week U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said “I think New York has worked extraordinarily hard” to strengthen its second chance application for federal Race to the Top funding.

He singled out the approval of legislation raising the state’s charter school cap as an example.

Gotham Schools provides a 647 word summary of the state’s 450+ page new application.

The complete application is here.

Despite being given barely more than two days to act on the State Education Department’s request for memorandums of understanding in support of the new application, 91 percent of districts did submit MOUs signed by their superintendents.

Whatever one thinks of the actions taken to improve the state’s chances for funding, they should have that effect.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Perspectives on teacher evaluation reform

May 14th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

More on the teacher evaluation reform proposal announced by State Education Commissioner David Steiner earlier this week…

Commissioner Steiner gave his explanation of the initiative in a New York Post column on Wednesday.

Gothamschools.org reported on New York City teacher union president Michael Mulgrew’s presentation of the plan to his board, suggesting he had to dispel some skepticism among his members.

Mr. Mulgrew’s union has posted this Q&A piece on the proposal.

Here is a copy of the bill itself.

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SED, union agree on reforms to teacher evaluation — UPDATED

May 11th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

Later this morning, State Education Commissioner David Steiner and leaders of New York State United Teachers will announce agreement on a package of changes to how teachers are evaluated in the state.

UPDATE (12:10 am, May 11):  Here is the State Education Department’s new release on the agreement.  Here is NYSUT’s release.

The changes are intended to enhance New York’s prospects for winning up to $700 million in federal Race to the Top funds.  At least some will require changes in state law, to be approved by the Assembly, Senate, and Governor in advance of the June 1 federal application deadline for Race to the Top.

The New York Times gives this summary of the proposed changes:

Teachers would be measured on a 100-point scale, with 20 percent points based on how much students improve on the standardized state exams. Another 20 percent would be based on local tests, which would have to be developed by each school system. After two years, 25 percent would be based on the state exams and 15 percent would come from the local tests.

The remainder of the evaluation will come from observations from principals and other teachers, and other measures. If teachers are rated ineffective for two consecutive years, they would face firing through an expedited hearing process that must conclude within 60 days. Currently hearings can drag on for several months.

The Wall Street Journal quotes Commissioner Steiner,

“We’ve never had anything like this before,” Mr. Steiner said. “It’s been nearly impossible to remove teachers for academic effectiveness reasons.” Struggling teachers would be given support, while “excellent” teachers would be rewarded.

We expect to have more on this later today.

Category: Legislation, National Policy, Teachers | Comments Off on SED, union agree on reforms to teacher evaluation — UPDATED