Saturday, February 28, 2009

Defining Dunkin' Duncan?

Folks out there in blogland are trying to fit the USSOE into a definable box with very mixed success. See this blog discussion. After only a month in office we think it is a little premature to try to define precisely the Secretary and the Administration on education issues. the policy conditions in Congress right now are very dynamic and unpredictable. Pragmatism for getting something done should and is trumping ideological rigidity. Our biggest concern is how to effectively focus policy attention on delivering desperately needed innovative solutions to schools and districts and on how best to mobilize the R&D infrastructure to unleash America's ingenuity on education.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

How to do it well and fast?

Administering the stimulus funds --- The Deparment of Education (ED)has big challenges to move the funding out the door swiftly while ensuring it will be used properly and effectively. We know that the ED has set up three internal “swat” teams focusing on administration, deployment, and communications. It will be a supreme test for the not-yet-completed political leadership team to work closely with key career staffers on moving this agenda forward very quickly. We will be offering some help and advice. Checker Finn and Mike Petrilli from the Fordham Institute have already done so in this smart and candid article in Gadfly.

Stimulating Dramas

We have never experienced anything like this. Just three weeks after the history making Inauguration, Congress passes very swiftly the largest spending bill ever. While the sausage factory-factor may have blurred some of the significance for some commentators inside the beltway, these twin and interrelated developments within one month were in our view astounding and made for drama upon dramas...even down to the last minute in the Senate. Check out this article about what happened late Friday night with Senator Sherrod Brown after we had gone to bed.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Stimulus or Investement or both?

As we have discussed over the past three weeks, the economic stimulus package --- which was passed in the House a week ago and under consideration in the Senate (as of this writing) --- contains unprecedented increases in funding for education. The much-publicized negotiations in the Senate on Thursday and Friday took us on a roller coaster ride as we heard all sorts of rumors about the potential elimination of all ed funding in the package. Late Friday night a dramatic compromise was reached in the Senate. Education took about a 60 billion hit compared to the House version, but the funding levels are still of historic proportions. Here is the latest (and still unconfirmed) snap shot of some of the key elements.

House: $13 billion
Senate amendments: $13 billion.

Title I
House: $13 billion including $2 billion for school improvement
Senate amendments: $12.4 billion including $2 billion for school improvement

State Data Systems
House: $250 million
Senate: None.

Teacher Quality
House: $300 million,
Senate: $100 million

School Renovation
House: $20 billion, including $14 billion for K-12 and $6 billion for higher education
Senate: None

Pell Grants
House: $15.6 billion
Senate: $13.9 billion

Ed Technology
House: $1 billion
Senate: $1 billion

State Stabilization fund
House: $79 billion including $39 billion to local school districts and public colleges and universities, $15 billion to states as bonus grants for meeting key performance measures, and $25 billion to states for which may include education.
Senate $39 billion includes $26.7 billion to local school districts and public colleges and universities; $2.5 billion for incentive grants for meeting key education performance measures; and $9.5 billion to States for other needs

National Science Foundation
HOuse: $3 billion, including $2.5 billion to improve economic competitiveness. $100 million is included for the Directorate for Education and Human Resources, with $60 million for Noyce Scholarships and $40 million for Math and Science Partnerships.
Senate: $1.2 billion total including: $1 billion to help America compete globally; $150 million for scientific infrastructure; and $50 million for competitive grants to improve STEM education.

All week long there was big time controversy about whether the package should be a short term stimulus to boost consumer spending or a longer term investment for reform or both. This is indeed a big issue.

The Post made a compelling case for stimulus only, but the massive injection of funding in key ed programs is also desperately needed. What do you think?