August 7, 2012
Congress Strikes Speedy, Drama-Free FY13 Funding Deal
In a rare bipartisan display, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) struck a deal on a six-month stopgap spending package that will fund the government at $1.047 trillion through March 2013. The agreement, which President Obama also approved, averts a possible government shutdown before the November elections or presidential inauguration and means Congress can focus on other pressing fiscal matters during its short, post-election session, such as sequestration and expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts. The stopgap agreement also means Congress has once again failed to set the budget before the start of the fiscal year.
It’s important to note that the $1.047 trillion will be subject to an 8.4 percent across-the-board cut unless Congress manages to overturn sequestration (see sequestration story below).
The relatively fast, drama-free spending agreement caught even some congressional insiders by surprise, but both political parties want to avoid a fevered funding battle leading up to November and are hoping for election-year gains to strengthen their respective positions for the eventual fight over the final FY13 budget numbers. If Republicans gain seats in the election, they will push for deeper spending cuts once the stopgap bill expires. Democrats, on the other hand, will use any political gains to advocate for at least maintaining current funding levels.
Appropriations committee staff will craft the six-month funding bill during Congress’s five-week recess, which begins this week, and lawmakers will vote on it when they return to Capitol Hill in September. In the meantime, stay tuned for any developments related to specific allocations for education programs.
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Tell Your Lawmakers to Stop Sequestration!
Take advantage of this month's congressional recess to meet with your federal lawmakers, inform them about sequestration’s severe consequences on local schools, and urge them to repeal the across-the-board cuts.
Sequestration will take effect in January 2013 unless Congress repeals it, making it crucial for educators to act now to prevent education spending from being cut by 8.4 percent, or about $4.1 billion.
Programs that face cuts in the middle of the 2012–13 school year include the following:
- Impact Aid (-$109 million)
- 21st Century Learning Centers (-$96 million)
- Teacher Incentive Fund (-$25 million)
And the largest federal education programs will suffer cuts to their 2013–14 school budgets:
- Title I (-$1.2 billion)
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (-$1 billion)
- Teacher Quality State Grants (-$200 million)
- Career and Technical Education (-$144 million)
To help prepare for your meetings, learn more about sequestration and calculate how much your school or program could stand to lose. Look up your lawmakers' contact information for their local district offices. And if you have questions or need advice before attending your meetings, contact ASCD's policy team at email@example.com.
In the meantime, if you haven't yet e-mailed your federal legislators about sequestration, we strongly encourage you to take five minutes to contact them today.
In addition, ASCD's policy team wants your stories about how sequestration is affecting (or will affect) you, your schools, and your school districts. Please e-mail your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will share them with lawmakers on Capitol Hill as part of our effort to urge Congress to repeal sequestration.
Thank you for taking the time to reach out to your legislators about this important topic.
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2012 Promise Neighborhoods Competition Heats Up
Almost 250 nonprofits and higher education institutions are competing for a share of the $60 million 2012 Promise Neighborhoods funding to support cradle-to-career services that improve the educational achievement and healthy development of children in underserved neighborhoods.
The U.S. Department of Education expects to award around $27 million for up to seven new implementation grants and $7 million for up to 14 new planning grants by the end of the year. Of the 242 applications, 60 were for implementation grants and 182 were for planning grants.
Implementation grants, which will help applicants create and provide a continuum of supports and services to children and families in distressed neighborhoods, will range from three to five years with estimated awards of $4 to $6 million each. New one-year planning grants, which will help applicants develop plans for creating a continuum of solutions, will be up to $500,000 each. Remaining money will provide second-year funding to the five 2011 implementation grant award winners.
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Report Roundup: NCLB Waiver Applications Analysis, New Data on the State of U.S. Youth, and the Teacher Retention Crisis Reframed
No Child Left Behind Waivers: Promising Ideas from Second-Round Applications
An evaluation of states' No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver plans by the Center for American Progress (CAP) finds states are significantly changing their school accountability and educator effectiveness policies but that certain details of their reform plans remain murky. In particular, CAP's review of the 27 second-round waiver proposals reveals a lack of specificity regarding state efforts to ensure equitable access to effective teachers, help districts and schools engage in comprehensive school turnaround approaches, and reduce reporting duplication and burdens on districts and schools.
The report recommends that states offer more details on these aspects of their plans. It also suggests that states receiving the NCLB waivers be regarded as reform laboratories whose eventual successes and failures can inform Congress's Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization.
Read the report, which includes examples and highlights from the state waiver plans.
2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book
The Annie E. Casey Foundation's new 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book finds that, despite the increasing economic hardship on U.S. families, students' academic achievement and health conditions have improved in most states.
The new report shows that families continue to struggle economically in the aftermath of the recession. In 2010, one-third of children had parents without secure employment—an increase of 22 percent, or about 4 million children, in just two years. Moreover, these economic struggles have not affected all populations equally, contributing to large gaps among black, white, and Hispanic youth. For example, black children are twice as likely as their white peers to have no parent with secure employment.
Despite these hardships and gaps, U.S. youth have benefitted from significant academic and health improvements over the past seven years, including a 20 percent decrease in the number of kids without health insurance and an 11 percent reduction in the high school dropout rate.
Download the full report and explore state-by-state data.
The Irreplaceables: Understanding the Real Retention Crisis in U.S. Urban Schools
The real problem with teacher retention is not the number of teachers who leave school each year, but the number of high-quality teachers who leave, concludes a new report by TNTP, a nonprofit focused on giving poor and minority students equal access to effective teachers. Its study of more than 90,000 teachers in four urban school districts finds that most schools retain their highest- and lowest-performing teachers at strikingly similar rates. The report attributes this to principals who make too little effort to retain their best teachers and remove their poorest ones, policies that reinforce this behavior, and poor school cultures and working conditions that drive away great teachers.
Solving this crisis requires a new, smarter approach to retention, according to the report. It offers recommendations for implementing such an approach, including making retention of irreplaceable teachers a top priority by aiming to retain more than 90 percent of them annually; overhauling principal hiring, support, and evaluation; paying teachers what they're worth; and monitoring school working conditions.
Read the full report.
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