Category Archives: Education Reform

Education Reform

Race to the Top: What is it?

Just in case you have heard a lot about the “Race to the Top” initiative being implemented by the Obama Administration and are wondering what it is, here is a short summary of this program.

Race to the Top is simply a national competition among states to encourage them to accelerate specific reforms in education.  Over $4 billion has been set aside to support education reforms across the country in these four areas:

  • “Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;”
  • “Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;”
  • “Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most;”
  • “Turning around our lowest-achieving schools.”

1.  States can apply for money to support their planned reforms

2.  Finalists are chosen and are required to present their plans to a review committee

3.  The winners are ultimately selected.

Round 1 of this initiative saw 41 applications submitted and on March 29, 2010 Arne Duncan (Sec. of Education) announced the Round 1 winners: Delaware and Tennessee.

Round 2 of the competition is already off and running, with more than $3 billion still available for state and locally-based education reforms.   Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia (see your state’s application) submitted applications and today Sec. Arne Duncan will announce the finalists.

During round 1, Delaware was awarded about $100 million and Tennessee approximately $500 million for their planned reforms.  To see what Delaware and Tennessee plan to implement, see their presentations via the links below.

Delaware Race to the Top State Presentation

Tennessee Race to the Top State Presentation


Plan to Turnaround America’s Most Troubled Schools

12% of America’s schools produce 50% of America’s dropouts, according to President Obama and the Dept. of Education. So the administration has announced an initiative to help the nation’s “5,000” lowest-performing schools over the next 5 years.

The plan offers Title 1 grant money to states & school districts- that money can be implemented using one of four methods::

1. “Turnaround”- Replace and rehire new principals and teachers
2. “Restart”- Convert the school to a charter school or to one run by a management company
3. “Closure”- Close the school and send students to other schools
4. “Transform”- Replace principal, increase teacher effectiveness, increase learning time for students, etc…

One of these four models can be adopted by a school to help “turnaround” education at a failing school.  School districts can compete for the money, determine which schools they want to help, then choose which model best fits each school.

See the example below and let us know your thoughts.

America Should “Have the Best-Educated Citizenry in the World”

President Obama has laid out his plan for helping to turnaround America’s education system.  The efforts involve:

– Transforming lower performing schools

– Motivating students to learn

– Firing consistently under-performing principals and/or teachers

– Increasing the number of students ready for college

– Decreasing the dropout rate

– Being open to alternative schools, like charter schools and schools that are run by management companies

– Increasing America’s competitiveness in the 21st century

See this speech and gain an understanding of his current approach….

Are Detroit & New Orleans Models for Reforming Public Education?

Educators in Detroit recently announced a plan, the Excellent Schools Plan, to turn around the city’s education system.  Unfortunately Detroit has been plagued with low graduation rates and poor performance in the city’s public schools for years.  Thus, the plan to improve its school system is getting a lot of attention from those interested in education reform.

The plan would have:

– Detroit’s Mayor take over the city’s public schools

– Eliminate the elected school board

– Close underperforming schools

– Encourage parents to choose the best options for schools for their children

– Open new schools to replace the failing ones

– Create competition between charter schools, public schools, and private schools for students in the hope that the best schools will attract students

The plan is controversial as it would do away with the elected school board and would place a lot of authority in the hands of the mayor.

Is this the blueprint for the future?

There have been other examples, such as the efforts in New Orleans, post Katrina.

In New Orleans, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) school district ran the majority of the schools before Hurricane Katrina hit.  The school board now runs 4 public schools and 12 charter schools.  The Orleans Parish School Board is still an elected school board.

In addition to the OPSB, New Orleans has a Recovery School District (RSD) which was originally created in 2003 to take over schools that were underperforming.  After Katrina, the Recovery School District  took on a more active role and now runs about 24 public schools and 47 charter schools in New Orleans.  The New Orleans Recovery School District is managed by a superintendent who is appointed by the state.

What do you think?  Should control of underperforming schools be taken away from local school boards and given to other state or local authorities?  Should more charter and private schools be allowed to compete for students in many areas where student test scores are low?

Is this the way to reform our school systems?

What do you think?

Specifics about the New Student Loan Law

The new student loan legislation provides the following adjustments to the current student loan system:

– Larger Pell Grants over time

– Increased investment in community colleges

– Increased investment in institutions that serve minority populations

– Expands income-based repayment program. “New borrowers who assume loans after July 1, 2014, will be able to cap their student loan repayments at 10 percent of their discretionary income and, if they keep up with their payments over time, will have the balance forgiven after 20 years. Public service workers – such as teachers, nurses, and those in military service – will see any remaining debt forgiven after just 10 years. More than 1.2 million new borrowers are projected to qualify and take part in the expanded program.”

– Federal student loans will now be made directly to students with banks simply servicing the loans

See the link above for more information. Is this good or bad for America’s students?

President Obama Signs Student Loan Legislation

New legislation makes it easier to pay back student loans if you become a teacher, serve in the military, etc..

President Obama: His Plan to Improve American Schools

In his weekly address the President announced his desire to transform our public schools with his new “Elementary and Secondary Education Act.”  This would be an update to “No Child Left Behind.”

President Obama…”The nation that out-educates us today, will out-compete us tomorrow.”  See the President’s video below.

It will be important for us all to follow these developments.

Ten Things Your Child Should