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In This Issue
Congress’s much anticipated bipartisan spending bill partially restores funding to education programs that was cut in 2013 as part of sequestration, but it doesn’t fully return funding to the presequestration levels of FY12. The new agreement, which funds the government through FY14, also includes budget caps for FY15 and FY16 that will make future funding increases extremely difficult.
President Obama signed the bill into law on Friday (PDF), setting the following spending levels for education programs:
The bill continues to fund Race to the Top—the Obama administration’s signature education initiative—but is only providing $250 million for early learning challenge grants, significantly less than the $1 billion the administration sought. $75 million will also support a new First in the World initiative to improve college student outcomes by testing, validating and implementing innovative approaches to increasing college access and completion. And although the spending agreement maintains funding for another administration favorite (the School Improvement Grant program) at sequestration levels, it overhauls the program's turnaround options. Instead of choosing among four contentious turnaround models (turnaround, restart, school closure, and transformation), schools have two new additional options: One option allows state agencies to establish any whole school improvement strategy for use by local education agencies with approval from the U.S. Secretary of Education, and the other option permits schools to partner with outside organizations who have successful records in school turnarounds.
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U.S. Representative George Miller (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House education committee, has announced that he will retire from Congress at the conclusion of this term, ending a four-decade career on Capitol Hill. A coauthor and staunch defender of the No Child Left Behind Act, Miller has been a longtime champion for education and the underprivileged. Miller’s statement comes after one year after Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) announcement that he will retire at the end of this term; this leaves a void in democratic leadership on education in both chambers for the 114th Congress. ASCD thanks Representative Miller for his 40 years of public service on behalf of the nation’s students.
In the 2014–15 school year, all states can offer eligible schools the option to provide meal service to all students at no charge for the first time ever under new guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education. The universal meal program, called Community Eligibility, is available to schools that have a minimum of 40 percent of students qualifying for free meals in the previous year. Community Eligibility reduces the administrative burden on local schools and families by eliminating the school’s need to obtain eligibility data from families through separate collections. The guidance covers Community Eligibility provisions and Title I (DOC) and ensures that state and local education agencies take full advantage of both provisions while still operating Title I programs effectively and efficiently.
With so much attention being paid to college and career readiness, the importance of early childhood education should not be overlooked. In the new issue of Policy Priorities, ASCD explores the significance of early childhood education and details the challenges of expanding access and ensuring equitable services for all children. The brief also provides updates on how educators and policymakers are working to improve the quality of early education through standards implementation, rigorous licensing, new accountability, and greater alignment with K–12 systems, all while recognizing the importance of developmentally appropriate strategies.
Schools have always played an important role in promoting the health, safety, welfare, and social development of children. It’s time for programs and policies to take a similarly holistic approach to the development and growth of the whole child. ASCD and the International School Health Network are now inviting individuals and organizations to sign on to the Global School Health Statement to support the integration of education and health at the systems level.
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