Posts tagged "Arne Duncan"
September 3, 2010
Students at 100 New York City schools will be among the first to take early versions of the new standardized tests being built with federal dollars.
The schools will test early versions of new third- through eleventh-grade exams that a consortium of 26 states — New York included — is creating. The same schools will get extra funding this year to pilot the new common core standards in their classrooms.
Because New York is a “governing state” in the consortium, its education officials have already agreed to begin using the new tests by the 2014 school year. It also means that New York officials, including city Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky, are helping design the new tests.
The PARCC group — Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — won a $170 million federal grant yesterday, which it will use to build the tests.
The new exams will complement the new national education standards that New York has also agreed to take on. They will also completely overhaul the form that state standardized exams take, and when they’re given, Suransky said today. (more…)
August 31, 2010
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan defended himself yesterday to critics of one of the centerpieces of his federal education policy — his practice of staging competitions to reward student progress or new ideas.
Duncan’s approach, which inspired his signature Race to the Top grant program, has drawn criticism from advocates like the NAACP, some state leaders and even members of Congress. His critics say that a policy that awards funds based on anything other than student need will inevitably leave some districts behind.
During Duncan’s visit to the state teachers union headquarters in Albany yesterday, those concerns surfaced again, this time from a teacher from Newburgh. Patricia Van Duser told Duncan that school districts like hers depend on the reliable funding that the federal education department doles out to schools based on need.
Van Duser worried that her district’s finances could be jeopardized if the federal government moves towards a more competitive model as the Obama administration plans its overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
“You really need that to be formula-driven, not competitive-driven,” she said. (more…)
August 30, 2010
ALBANY, N.Y. — Teamwork was the watchword as U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan took his national back-to-school bus tour to Albany today.
Duncan has taken to the road to celebrate teachers, and to convince them that his reform efforts will not undercut their interests.
In New York, many teachers are still skittish of a new teacher evaluation plan that will, for the first time, allow school districts to judge them based on their students’ test scores. The state and city teachers union struck the agreement with state education officials in May, in part to improve the state’s Race to the Top application.
And so, in appearances at the state teachers union headquarters and the State Capitol, Duncan and state officials emphasized that New York’s reform policies are the result of a team effort between state education officials and its teachers unions. Those policies won the state nearly $700 million in federal Race to the Top funds last week.
“Where other states were not able to reach consensus, New York was,” Duncan said. (more…)
August 10, 2010
President Barack Obama is expected to sign a $10 billion federal teacher jobs bill into law this evening, opening the way for New York City to receive about $200 million for teacher salaries.
The “edujobs” legislation is meant to stave off teacher layoffs. But in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg avoided layoffs by revoking planned teacher pay raises, leaving the use of the $200 million unclear. The law requires that districts use the funds to pay for teachers salaries and benefits — not any administrative costs.
One possibility is that pay raises could go back on the negotiating table. The money could also be used to prevent the elimination of 2,000 teaching positions that the city is still planning to lose this year through attrition and not replace.
Overall, New York State will receive an estimated $622 million. Districts will have until September 2012 to use the funds.
Speaking to reporters this afternoon after the bill passed the House, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that states could see the influx of money in a matter of weeks. “We feel a huge sense of urgency here,” Duncan said.
The bill passed after months of Congressional wrangling. Last month, it faced the threat of a presidential veto after lawmakers wanted to pay for the measure by cutting funds originally meant for Obama administration education reform efforts, including Race to the Top. The final version is paid for by other budget trades, including a $12 billion cut to the federal food stamp program.
July 27, 2010
Even as they celebrated New York’s Race to the Top finalist status today, state education officials warned that reforms won’t happen without a win.
In recent months, state officials have committed to changing teacher evaluations, creating new databases to track students’ grades and scores, revamping standards, and upgrading tests. But those changes can’t happen unless New York takes home the $700 million it asked for in its Race to the Top application, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch told me today.
“The reform agenda is very contingent upon an infusion of these federal dollars that are earmarked for reform efforts,” Tisch said.
For a cash-strapped education department in a state whose budget is now nearly four months late, it’s not clear where the money to fund costly reform initiatives will come from without federal backing. And New York is not alone among states whose budgets may not support the changes they have promised or even enacted into law.
But speaking to reporters today, Duncan said that states should carry out their reform plans even if they don’t receive Race to the Top funds. (more…)
July 26, 2010
New York could enter Race to the Top’s bell lap tomorrow — and then one step closer to winning $700 million toward overhauling to the state’s education system.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will announce second-round finalists tomorrow during a speech in Washington, where he is set to discuss what he is characterizing as the “quiet revolution” of education reform.
New York State surprised many observers by being named a finalist in the first round of awards even though, at the time, the state legislature had not yet lifted the cap on charter schools or passed legislation overhauling the way teachers are evaluated. In the final first-round scoring, New York placed 15th out of 16 finalists.
But in part because of those legislative changes, some observers are predicting that the state’s chances of winning, or at least being named a finalist, are better this round.
New York’s chances could also be boosted through pure statistics. Only Delaware and Tennessee won in the contest’s first round, leaving most of the pot — $3.4 billion — left to award. Duncan has said that there are likely to be 10 to 15 second-round winners, out of a total of 36 states applying.
May 18, 2010
City, federal and union officials clash on the best way to lift the state’s charter school cap. They dispute the fairest way to lay off teachers. And they could barely agree on what school U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan should visit today.
But brought together for that visit, Duncan, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and teachers union president Michael Mulgrew could agree on one thing — the city needs federal dollars and it needs them soon. (more…)
May 5, 2010
In an attempt to improve some of the worst schools in the country, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is offering states four methods of turning around their lowest performers. But New York City officials say the union contract here rules out one of the three — the so-called “transformation” model — even though it’s the only one that wouldn’t cause teachers to lose their jobs.
The other three methods either turn schools into charter schools, close them down, or force their principals and at least half of the staff to be fired. “Transformation” calls for the principal’s removal, but keeps the school’s staff in place.
Yet crucially, it also requires that schools use students’ test scores as a significant factor in evaluating teachers, that merit pay be put in place, and that teachers whose students don’t show enough improvement be fired. Since New York state law bars principals from using student data in teachers’ tenure decisions and the teachers contract only allows merit pay for entire schools that perform well, not individual teachers, city officials claim they cannot use it.
That’s despite the fact that the city actually wants to use the transformation model at some of the 34 schools on the state’s turnaround list, a Department of Education official said. He mentioned (but did not name) a small group of schools that are improving and have above-average graduation rates despite their overall-poor performance. (more…)
January 19, 2010
Gov. Paterson’s proposed school budget could actually hurt the state’s chance of winning federal Race to the Top funds, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan suggested today.
Duncan told reporters this afternoon that he was surprised to learn that Paterson’s proposed budget appropriated $750 million in Race to the Top funds even before the competitive fund’s application deadline today.
“This is going to be very, very competitive, so for anyone to assume they’re getting this — that’s a bit of a leap of faith, I would say,” Duncan said. “And obviously if this money is seen as simply something that is going to be plugging budget holes, that’s not something we’re going to be interested in.”