Duncan: Big $$, if you’re willing to change the “status quo”

In this Washington Post interview, our new United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, talks about how the Obama administration plans to further its school reform agenda.

Of the $100 billion earmarked for schools in the federal stimulus package, Duncan says, the government has about $5 billion in discretionary funds. With that “unprecedented” amount of money, he said, “We’re gonna work exclusively with those states and those districts that are really willing to challenge the status quo and get dramatically better.”

I forgot to mention earlier that Duncan wrote a letter to the participants of the performance pay conference I attended on Monday commending them on their “willingness to engage one another in dialogue about how new forms of teacher compensation can help us to get the results we expect from our schools and our students.”

There was a sense of urgency at the conference, at least by some, and it was clear that it was tied to these federal dollars. Should Oakland act quickly to get in on some of these discretionary dollars?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Katy Murphy

    Speaking of stimulus money, here’s the release (minus the quotes) that O’Connell put out late this afternoon. I apologize for the length, but a link isn’t yet available:

    SACRAMENTO – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell today announced the U.S. Department of Education has awarded California an estimated $634 million for students with special needs and $564 million for socioeconomically disadvantaged students in the first disbursement of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). …

    … The nearly $634 million for special education constitutes half of the ARRA recovery funds for California dedicated to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B program. The funds will be used to help districts in this fiscal year and next. The remaining 50 percent of the IDEA funds will be awarded in the fall. These recovery funds constitute a one-time increase for IDEA, Part B programs. The Obama Administration has made clear that the funding should be used for short-term investments that have the potential for long-term benefits rather than for expenditures that cannot be sustained once the recovery funds are expended. …

    Some possible uses of these limited-term IDEA recovery funds include:

    -Obtaining state-of-the art assistive technology devices and provide training in their use to enhance access to the general curriculum for students with disabilities.

    -Providing intensive district-wide professional development for special education and regular education teachers that focuses on scaling-up, through replication; proven and innovative evidence-based school-wide strategies in reading, math, writing, and science; and positive behavioral supports to improve outcomes for students with disabilities.

    -Developing or expanding the capacity to collect and use data to improve teaching and learning.
    Expanding the availability and range of inclusive placement options for preschoolers with disabilities by developing the capacity of public and private preschool programs to serve these children.

    -Hiring transition coordinators to work with employers in the community to develop job placements for youths with disabilities.

    The $564 million in ARRA funds allocated to benefit socioeconomically disadvantaged students constitutes half of the ARRA recovery funds dedicated to Title I, Part A program expected to go to California. The remaining 50 percent of the Title I funds are expected to be awarded in the fall. These recovery funds constitute a one-time increase for Title I, Part A programs. Again, the federal government intends this funding to be used for short-term investments that have the potential for long-term benefits, rather than for expenditures that cannot be sustained once the recovery funds are expended. Some possible uses of these limited-term Title I recovery funds include:

    -Establishing a system for identifying and training highly effective teachers to serve as instructional leaders in Title I school wide programs and modifying the school schedule to allow for collaboration among the instructional staff.

    -Providing new opportunities for Title I school-wide programs for secondary school students to use high-quality, online coursework as supplemental learning materials for meeting mathematics and science requirements.

    -Developing and expanding longitudinal data systems to drive continuous improvement efforts focused on increased achievement in Title I schools.

    -Districts are also encouraged to consider using these funds to support and improve preschool and early childhood development programs which are an existing allowable use for Title I.

    ARRA was signed into law in February by President Barack Obama. The entire spending and tax package to benefit the nation’s schools includes more than $100 billion for elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education; $4.1 billion for early education and care; and $26 billion in education tax incentives. A total of $5 billion is expected to benefit public education in California. This unprecedented investment will provide public education and early childhood programs with critically needed funds that can be used to avoid teacher layoffs, continue efforts to close achievement gaps, and improve educational opportunities for California’s children and youth. …

    A final list of exactly how much ARRA funding each school district will receive will take a month to compile.

  • Barbara Barza


    Does Oakland have a website like San Francisco’s recoversf.org to track the proposals for getting stimulus dollars into the local education community?

    This would be very helpful as a coordinated communication resource to take it from the Dept of Education level down to the local level.