Duncan Talks Obama Education Record at Mom Congress

Secretary Duncan speaks to Mom Congress

Secretary Duncan speaks to the 2012 Mom Congress delegates. Official Department of Education photo by Leslie Williams.

What is the proper role of the federal government in education? Secretary Arne Duncan answered this question Monday at Parenting‘s annual Mom Congress in Washington. “Under President Obama’s leadership, our role here in Washington is to support you,” Duncan said. There’s a transformation underway in public education at the state and local level, he said, that is raising expectations for students and educators.

At the Department of Education, our first three years were really about building a foundation for this transformation. We have challenged the status quo wherever it is needed and championed bold reform wherever it is happening along the educational pipeline from cradle to career.

Secretary Duncan explained how the Obama Administration has supported reforms by:

Strengthening K-12 Education

The Administration is investing in courageous leadership at the state and local level, taking to scale practices that close achievement gaps and raise the bar for all students. Investments include:

Investing in Early Learning

The Obama Administration has made an unprecedented investment in high-quality early childhood education with the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge.

Keeping Teachers on the Job

Under the Recovery Act and emergency jobs funding, more than 325,000 teachers were kept in classrooms during the height of the recession.

Investing in Higher Education

The Obama Administration has made the largest investment in higher education since the G.I. Bill.

    • Three million more students are going to college with Pell Grants, thanks to an increase in Pell funding by $40 billion. Rather than adding to the deficit, the Administration paid for the increase by cutting overly generous federal subsidies to big banks that make student loans.
    • Invested $2.5 billion to support adults attending community colleges.
    • Simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has resulted in 50 percent more applications since President Obama took office.

“The bottom line today is: We can’t stop,” Secretary Duncan said. “The costs of educational stagnation and mediocrity are too high. President Obama has put us on a path to reach our goal of being the best-educated country in the world by 2020, and we have to keep going.”

Arne encouraged the education advocates in the audience—moms from all 50 states and D.C.—to continue working in their communities on behalf of their own children and all children. Parents need to be good partners with their children’s teachers, he told them, but “also need to be partners in bigger, systemic issues.”

Read the entire speech here.

Wanted: Peer Reviewers for Innovation Fund

The Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) is seeking peer reviewers for its grant competition.

i3 is designed to encourage and reward school districts, nonprofits, and consortia of schools that are developing fresh ideas, growing promising programs, and scaling what works in an effort to dramatically improve schools. The program received $650 million under the Recovery Act.

Reviewers are sought from various backgrounds and professions: PK-12 teachers and principals, college and university educators, researchers and evaluators, social entrepreneurs, strategy consultants, grant makers and managers, and others with education expertise.

Reviewers will independently read, score, and provide written comments for grant applications. The application review will be conducted electronically from the reviewer’s location, except for one set of reviews that may be conducted in Washington, D.C. Reviewers will receive an honorarium.

The deadline is March 1.

If you’re interested, please read the Call for Peer Reviewers to get all the details.

Jobs and Reform: How the Recovery Act is Providing a Lifeline to Two School Districts

Nationwide, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has already saved or created at least 325,000 jobs in education, according to information submitted by the states and released this month by the Office of Management and Budget.  At the same time, ARRA is supporting critical reforms in our schools, helping advance student achievement and giving our children the education they need to compete in the global economy of the 21st century.  This video tells the story of ARRA’s impact on the school districts of Clark County, Nevada, and Memphis, Tennessee, two of the thousands of communities where stimulus funds are making a real difference.

Click here for an accessible version of the video.

Jobs Saved: 85 Teaching Facilitators in St. Louis

Preliminary data suggest that at least 250,000 education jobs across the country have been saved or created thanks to the Recovery Act, according to a report this week from the Domestic Policy Council.

Secretary Duncan noted that these initial data from states indicate that “…many districts are using stimulus dollars in ways that will move us beyond the status quo. There is a lot more work to be done, but we applaud those districts that have successfully used stimulus funding to stave off catastrophic layoffs and invest in critical reforms.”

One of those school districts is St. Louis Public Schools.  The district used Recovery Act funds to address key needs, including the saving of 85 teaching facilitator jobs.  This video tells the story of three of those teaching facilitators.

Click here for an accessible version of the video.

For more information about preliminary data on Recovery Act education spending, please see the press release about the DPC report, or the full report itself — “Educational Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

ED Staff