Education news headlines: [please see the end of this email for the full text of all articles]
Chairman of House Education Committee Backs Obama’s Loan Plan [Article 4]
New Staff Director on Key House Education Panel [Article 5]
Press release from the Committee: http://republicans.edlabor.house.gov/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=1147
GAO: Most Districts Not Spending Stimulus on Reform [Article 6]
GAO Report ‘States’ and Localities’ Current and Planned Uses of Funds While Facing Fiscal Stresses’: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09831t.pdf
The House Appropriations Committee subcommittee markup of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies FY10 Appropriations Bill:
Chairman Obey’s statement: http://appropriations.house.gov/pdf/DRO_SubC%20Statement_on_FY2010_LHHS_Bill-07.10.09.pdf
Summary table: http://appropriations.house.gov/pdf/DRO_SubC%20Statement_on_FY2010_LHHS_Bill-07.10.09.pdf
Earmark list: http://appropriations.house.gov/pdf/DRO_SubC%20Statement_on_FY2010_LHHS_Bill-07.10.09.pdf
The full committee markup is this Friday
Congressional Committee hearings:
House Committee on Appropriations:
July 17: full committee mark up of draft fiscal 2010 appropriations for programs under its jurisdiction
9:00 a.m., 2359 Rayburn House Building, Capitol Hill
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions:
July 16: Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety: Modernizing the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 to Help Workers and Employers Meet the Changing Demands on a Global Market
10:00 a.m., 430 Dirksen Senate Building
The Honorable Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary of Labor, Employment and Training Administration
Clyde McQueen, Full Employment Council, Inc.
Michael Thurmond, Georgia Department of Labor
Rick Bender, The Washington State Labor Council
William Kiernan, Institute for Community Inclusion
Mary Sarris, North Shore Workforce Investment Board
Kathy Cooper, Office of Adult Literacy, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
Stephen Wing, Director of Workforce Initiatives, CVS Caremark
today: Using IDEA ARRA Funds for Students with Disabilities.
The Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation and the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation will hold a forum to discuss the challenges and opportunities for funding IDEA programs with ARRA funds, and highlights the key issues involved in making wise funding decisions.
Panelists: Rayna Aylward, Executive Director, Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation; Carmel Martin, Assistant Secretary of Education; Candace Cortiella, Director, The Advocacy Institute; Dr. Judith Higgins Moening, Executive Director, Special Education, North East Independent School District, Texas; Dr. Claire Crane, Principal of the Ford K-8 NASA Explorer Elementary School, Lynn, Massachusetts; and Stewart J. Hudson, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation.
3:00 to 4:30 p.m., 2261 Rayburn House Building, Capitol Hill
July 14: The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will release a new reportentitled Achievement Gaps: How Black and White Students in Public Schools Perform in Mathematics and Reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Panelists: John Q. Easton, Director, Institute of Education Sciences, Stuart Kerachsky, Acting Commissioner,National Center for Education Statistics, Paul Barton, Senior Associate, Policy Information Center, Educational Testing Service, Hugh Price, Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, former President and CEO of the National Urban League , Warren Smith, Vice President, Washington State Board of Education; Member, National Assessment Governing Board, Peggy G. Carr, Associate Commissioner for Assessment, National Center for Education Statistics.
9:30 a.m., National Press Club, First Amendment Room, Washington, DC
To RSVP or for additional information, please contact Connie Ward at (202) 842-3600, Ext. 264, or firstname.lastname@example.org
July 14: ASCD Policy Briefing: Moving From Highly Qualified to Highly Effective Teachers.
ASCD is hosting a policy briefing on how policymakers and education leaders can foster and measure teacher effectiveness through federal policies and existing professional development activities.
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Capitol Visitor Center, Room SVC 202/203.
RSVP, contact Soumya Vishnu at email@example.com. The event will be telecast and webcast. RSVP for information.
July 23: Release of the ETS Report: National Education Standards: Getting Beneath the Surface
2:00 – 3:30 p.m., National Press Club, First Amendment Lounge, 529 14th St NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC
ETS Policy Information Center Senior Associate Paul Barton, CCSSO Executive Director Gene Wilhoit, Bethany Little, Chief Education Counsel to U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and ETS Policy Evaluation & Research Center Senior Vice President Michael Nettles, discuss the report
U.S. Department of Education:
White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans begins a Series of ‘Community Conversations’ [Article 7]
FY10 Education Budget:
The Education Department has posted FY2010 Budget Justifications (May 13):
List of political appointees at the Department:
Federal Education Training and Grant Opportunities, Notices:
Link to today’s Federal Register:
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; Overview Information; Technology and Media Services for Individuals With Disabilities–Center on Technology Implementation; Notice InvitingApplications for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; Overview Information; Technical Assistance and Dissemination To Improve Services and Results for Children With Disabilities–Model Demonstration Projects on Tiered Approaches for Improving the Writing Proficiency of High School Students; Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009
Friday in Congress:
H.R.3180 : To establish the National Advisory Committee on Rural Education in the Department of Education.
Sponsor: Rep Perriello, Thomas S.P. [VA-5] (introduced 7/10/2009)
Latest Major Action: 7/10/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (stimulus):
July 7: Draft Guidance on Title I, Part A Waivers —
the Department has issued draft guidance on how to request waivers under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This guidance is for state educational agencies, local educational agencies (LEAs), Indian tribes, and schools that receive funding under Title I, Part A.
The draft guidance and Appendix I to the draft guidance can be found under “Title I, Part A Recovery Funds for Grants to Local Educational Agencies” by following the link to ED Recovery Act Programs at http://www.ed.gov/recovery/, or you can go to the guidance and Appendix I directly at http://www.ed.gov/programs/titleiparta/title-i-waiver.doc and http://www.ed.gov/programs/titleiparta/title-i-waiver-appendix.xls
July 2 : Secretary Duncan announced Thursday that $2.7 billion in government services funds will be released early, as referenced in several news articles above. This money is the last third of the government services portion of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund which was intitially scheduled to be released as part of the Phase II application process. This money will be released immediately to states whose Phase I SFSF applications have already been approved, and will be awarded as the remaining states’ applications are approved. The rest of the stabilization fund money will still be held for the Phase II application process.
This chart shows how much money each state will get early: http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102628062374&s=351&e=001cpIMSVHAXfg1-WBUlcu0FHFm2zRWkwR1Gp5Uzek7i5Krol4LQ2Leiq71MUhpMBlfKlXd3eOGlaSMMctEVicRul63wcOFM-Ff1ia-VNHRLXr7H7O3Ey0eaYTG-Cht1LoH4FtO3sMAB3OkfZgV7MhlpcaNMjZoOGmziWllUAe2bbs=
As of July 2, all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have submitted applications for Phase I of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.
Initial and Approved Applications: http://www.ed.gov/programs/statestabilization/resources.html
The following states’ applications are still pending approval: Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming
Office of Management and Budget has released New Guidance for Recipient Reporting (Updated June 22):
The Workforce Alliance is hosting a 3-part Audio Update Series entitled “Recovery to Reauthorization.” The first audio update on July 1 focused on sector strategies, with an emphasis on the clean energy sector (i.e. green jobs) and how work begun or expanded under the Recovery Act can best be supported through WIA reauthorization.
Stay tuned for information on the second part of the series soon.
Timeline for Race to the Top funds:
The Department posted spending reports by state and by program (at the bottom of the webpage, updated June 26):
Education Recovery and Reinvestment Center:
The State and Local Resources page is tracking all activity at the state level and has a good collection of links, documents, and local news stories on distribution of education stimulus money:
The Department has released guidance, fact sheets, and applications for various stimulus funding, including the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, Title I funding, IDEA funding Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants, Independent Living Services funding, Impact Aid Construction Formula Grants and McKinney-Vento Homeless Children and Youth Grants (updated April 13):
Please contact D’Arcy Philps, Vic Klatt, Rich Stombres or Danielle Ballard at Van Scoyoc Associates with any questions or comments.
GOP Leaving ‘No Child’ Behind
By Nick Anderson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 13, 2009
As the Obama administration considers new legislation to fix schools, House Republicans have chosen an education policy leader who is eager to turn the page on the No Child Left Behind era and roll back federal mandates for testing students.
The ascent of Rep. John P. Kline (Minn.) last month to ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee marked a watershed. For the first time since enactment of No Child Left Behind in 2002 under President George W. Bush, the top GOP member on a congressional education committee is not someone who voted for the landmark law. Kline wasn’t even in Congress at the time.
Unlike his predecessors, who gave Bush crucial support for the law, Kline said he is not committed to the core requirement of testing all students in reading and math in grades three through eight, and once more in high school. He said he wants to give states “maximum latitude.”
“I’m not looking to tweak No Child Left Behind,” Kline said. “As far as I’m concerned, we ought to go in and look at the whole thing.”
President Obama is jettisoning much of the rhetoric and symbolism associated with No Child Left Behind, but he has yet to offer a detailed proposal to revise the law, which has waned in popularity and is overdue for reauthorization.
Experts say it is unlikely that the president would seek to scrap the testing requirement. If anything, he appears to want tougher tests.
House Republicans have almost no power to block the Democratic majority. But Kline and a growing number of like-minded members of his party devoted to local control of schools are likely to complicate Obama’s efforts to build a broad bipartisan coalition for the next generation of education reform. Bush overcame many Republican doubts about enlarging the federal role in school policy. It remains to be seen whether Obama can do the same.
The law requires states to report test scores separately for groups of students, including racial and ethnic minorities, poor students, those with limited English skills and special-education students. The spotlight on scores is meant to force educators to focus on narrowing any achievement gaps. Schools must advance toward a goal of 100 percent student proficiency by 2014, and those that repeatedly fall short can face interventions that include a management takeover.
Rep. George Miller (Calif.), now the committee chairman, was one of two key Democrats who teamed with Bush on No Child Left Behind. The other was Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), now chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.), now the ranking Republican on Kennedy’s committee, also voted for the law.
As ranking House Republican on the Education and Labor Committee, Kline succeeds Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (Calif.), who took the GOP’s senior slot on the Armed Services Committee. Current House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) was the education committee chairman when the law was enacted.
Kline, 61, a retired Marine officer who carried the emergency nuclear-attack briefcase known as the “football” for Presidents Carter and Reagan, won his House seat in 2002. At first, he was willing to give the new education law a chance. But he said he soured on it after fielding persistent complaints from educators and parents.
“Let’s back the federal government out of dictating to schools how they’re going to do their business,” he said.
He said he hopes to find common ground with Democrats to increase special-education funding and expand independently operated, publicly funded charter schools. But he criticizes Democrats for failing to reauthorize a program that provides low-income D.C. students with vouchers for private-school tuition, and he opposes Democratic efforts to expand direct government lending to college students.
Dan Lips, a Heritage Foundation analyst, said Kline’s rise coincides with “an opportunity for Republicans to return to their more conservative roots [on education], favoring moving decisions back to the states.”
Amy Wilkins, of the Education Trust, which supports efforts to close achievement gaps, said Kline’s stance harks back to a “pre-Bush” view on schools. “There is still a set of Republicans who see a legitimate federal role in driving education reform forward,” she said. But within the party, “they may be in the minority now.”
Last week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan paid Kline a visit on Capitol Hill.
“He feels the same sense of urgency I do, that we need to get dramatically better,” Duncan said later. Duncan said he told Kline that he wants to push for higher academic standards but giving schools more flexibility to achieve them — “be much looser at the local level, let folks innovate.” Duncan said that message “seemed to resonate with him.”
Should High Schools Bar Average Students From Rigorous College-Level Courses and Tests?
By Jay Mathews
Monday, July 13, 2009
Fifteen years ago, when I discovered that many good high schools prevented average students from taking demanding courses, I thought it was a fluke, a mistake that would soon be rectified.
I had spent much time inside schools that did the opposite. They worked hard to persuade students to take challenging classes and tests, such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge, so students would be ready for the shock of their first semester at college, which most average students attend. The results were good. Why didn’t all schools do that?
I still don’t have a satisfactory answer. It always comes up this time of year because of my annual rankings of public high schools for Newsweek, which is based on schools’ efforts to challenge average kids as measured by participation in AP, IB and Cambridge tests.
Many school superintendents and principals who run schools that restrict access to those college-level courses and tests have disappointing results on the Newsweek list. Some of them object to my methodology. It is clear from my conversations with them that they are smart and compassionate people.
But after seeing what has happened in the Washington area, where all rules barring admission to challenging courses have been removed, I think the dissenters are wrong and should take a look at what educators are doing here.
In 2008, Newsweek received a letter from the superintendents of 39 small districts in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts, declining to provide data for their schools. If Newsweek already had the numbers, they asked that the statistics not be used.
“We all believe that all schools, communities — and your readers — are poorly served by Newsweek’s persistent efforts to use a single statistic, the number of students who sit for AP or IB exams, to rank schools,” they said.
This year, the protest was smaller and less organized, but I received some e-mails making the same point. Howard S. Smith, superintendent of the Williamsville Central School District in New York, said the Newsweek list had “limitations with respect to the assessment of school quality and reflect only a portion of what we do.”
Tony Pavia, principal of New Canaan High School in Connecticut, said “judging a school based on one simple factor such as AP tests makes absolutely no sense, especially since it implies that anything other than AP students, AP classes and AP tests is essentially irrelevant to a school’s quality.”
Both last year and this year, I contacted the protesting superintendents and principals and asked them to treat our request for their data as a freedom of information submission. They were all professionals, just trying to make a point, and quickly agreed to send me their numbers.
In return, I promised to publish their objections to the list and keep alive what I consider a very useful argument.
The lists’ critics are right about its narrow scope. Schools are rated by just one number: the ratio of college-level tests taken each year to the number of seniors graduating each year. As I have said many times, that narrow simplicity is useful for readers because they can understand exactly what I am doing, calculate their own ratios for any schools outside this area, and argue with their friends and me about the result.
Parents use the list to compare schools, exactly as I intended. That produces some useful insights, such as why there are so many schools with similar student bodies that do considerably better than many of the protesting schools.
New Canaan High, for example, has an AP participation rating of 1.230. That puts it in the top 5 percent of U.S. schools, but there are 120 schools in the D.C. area with better numbers. Langley High School in Fairfax County, with 7 percent low-income students, is demographically similar to New Canaan, where 2.4 percent of the students are low-income. Yet Langley’s AP participation rate is 3.807, three times as large.
One important reason is that New Canaan, unlike Langley, prohibits students from taking AP courses if their grades in previous classes weren’t good enough. It does not matter how much they want to take the course or how hard they are willing to work in it. Pavia, the New Canaan principal, said, “I do not believe that AP classes are for everyone any more than physics or band or ceramics or football is for everyone.”
Washington area superintendents and principals have a different view. They think every student who wants to get a taste of college trauma in an AP or IB course ought to be able to do so. They tell me their open door to AP, IB and Cambridge courses raises expectations and inspires better instruction in lower grades. The number of students passing the exams remains very high, despite letting so many more students take them.
One of the Washington area superintendents who endorses that view is Morton Sherman of Alexandria. He also was one of the superintendents who signed last year’s boycott letter to Newsweek, when he was superintendent of the Tenafly, N.J., schools. Sherman told me he does not like restrictions placed on AP enrollment like those used in New Canaan. In Alexandria, he is urging even more college-level course participation by introducing IB.
He just doesn’t think I should be summing up schools with one number. “IB or AP by themselves do not give a complete picture of quality,” he said. He was too busy this year to make an issue of it, he said, but will be getting back to me next year.
I can’t wait.
Financial Aid in Flux
SAN ANTONIO — As members of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators gathered here for their annual meeting that began Sunday, they could be forgiven for feeling unsettled — and not just because the group’s own leadership is in disarray (more on that later).
More fundamentally, the world they operate in is in a state of flux. The next few weeks and months could see some of the biggest changes to the structure and shape of the federal financial aid system in decades, but the ultimate fate of those alterations remains in doubt. The Obama administration is pushing an overhaul of the federal student loan programs, with the promise that the restructuring could free up tens of billions of dollars in new grant and loan funds to help students pay for college.
With Congress expected to take up the administration’s proposals as soon as next week, some kind of major change in the loan programs seems assured — although whether lawmakers, especially in the Senate, will fully embrace the president’s plan to shift all lending to the government’s direct loan program is unclear. There is far less certainty, however, about how the government might spend the funds that would be generated by the loan program restructuring — and far less agreement in Congress and among college officials about how that money should be spent.
The prospect of a “Pell Grant entitlement” — which would ensure steady growth in the value of the government’s main aid program for needy students — has largely (though not officially) been abandoned, and there is significant, but to date below the surface, discord over the administration’s proposal to revamp the Perkins Loan Program, which is expected to redistribute funds away from the traditional recipients and toward community colleges and other institutions that educate large numbers of low-income students. And some higher education officials are also concerned that the Obama administration will seek to tap into the projected savings from the loan changes not for Pell Grants, but to pay for other priorities such as community college job training, early childhood education — or even health care reform.
A series of news developments since Thursday have the potential to shape the landscape surrounding these debates in the coming weeks. Among them:
- The House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee for health, labor and education programs, in drafting its initial plan for allocating funds in 2010 on Friday, endorsed the Obama administration’s plan to raise the maximum Pell Grant to $5,500 but did not address the larger proposal to shift funds for the grants to the “mandatory” side of the federal budget. (The panel also recommended giving $500 million more to the National Institutes of Health than President Obama suggested providing in his 2010 budget plan.)
- Leaders of the House education panel offered conflicting perspectives on the administration’s plan to gut the lender-based guaranteed loan program. While Rep. George Miller, the California Democrat who chairs the Education and Labor Committee, reiterated his support for the administration’s proposal, his new Republican counterpart, Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, said in a meeting with reporters he was “hopeful” that Congress (with support from some Democrats) would continue to carve out a role for lenders (and private capital) in the federal loan programs.
- The Project on Student Debt, in a report released today, offers recommendations for remaking the Perkins Loan Program that are largely consistent with preliminary signals sent by the Education Department about its planned direction. That’s unsurprising, given that the chief architect of the department’s plan, Robert Shireman, headed the student debt group until January.
- The New America Foundation released its own report today that questions the need for student loan guarantee agencies but offers Congress, should it decide to sustain a role for them, ideas for how to adapt their role.
As if all the big-picture uncertainty swirling around the federal policies that shape their professional lives wasn’t enough, members of the national financial aid group are also dealing with tumult in their own association. The group’s leader, Philip R. Day, went on leave last week after prosecutors in California charged him with a series of felonies related to alleged misuse of public money in fund raising campaigns. On Friday, on the eve of the annual convention, NASFAA announced that it had appointed Joan Crissman, the executive vice president, to replace Day on an interim basis.
Sunday, at the group’s annual meeting here, NASFAA’s national chair, Dave Gruen, director of financial aid at the University of Wyoming, sought to reassure members that “NASFAA is not now and has never been leaderless,” citing its strong board and management team. “I can assure you that the association’s public policy and advocacy efforts, its service to our membership and all of the other functions the association provides will continue uninterrupted,” Gruen said, adding that the group had hired a lawyer to protect its interests.
When they aren’t talking about the future of their association at this week’s meeting, the members of NASFAA — along with higher education lobbyists and financial aid policy makers across the country — will be keeping tabs on and discussing developments in Washington. There are many moving parts to the debate over the future of the student loan and grant programs, but the major focus will be on the legislation that Congress is expected to produce — through the process known as “budget reconciliation” — to restructure the student loan programs and redistribute the savings, which the Congressional Budget Office currently projects at $87 billion over 10 years.
House leaders are expected to largely back President Obama’s plan to make all loans out of the direct loan program, giving lenders a chance to compete to service and collect on loans, and direct some funds to state and nonprofit agencies and guarantors to provide college outreach and financial literary programs to borrowers through newly proposed grants to states. But the picture is much fuzzier in the Senate, where Republicans and some Democrats alike are nervous about aspects of the administration’s plan and might be more partial to elements of an alternative promoted by a group of lenders last week.
The House had been expected to take up budget reconciliation legislation to remake the loan programs as early as last week, but right now lawmakers are distracted by other priorities. The House education and labor panel is expected to consider health care reform legislation this week, but Miller, the panel’s chairman, echoing comments by his spokeswoman last week, told The New York Times that he would soon introduce a bill that would largely embrace the Obama plan.
Given the overwhelming Democratic majority in the House, that probably means that the Miller/Obama plan will sail in that chamber, despite the opposition of 31 “Blue Dog” Democrats and virtually all Republicans, including Kline, who recently became the senior Republican on the education panel. In an interview in his Capitol Hill office Friday, Kline said that he generally supported the administration’s goal of increasing funding for Pell Grants, but thought its approach to getting there was flawed.
“It’s a smart thing to do to take all this money and put it to Pell Grants, but it’s not smart to make the federal government this big lender,” he said. Asked if Congressional opponents of the Obama plan have made their objections known, Kline said lawmakers have been distracted and that the loan issue has been “drowned under the wake of other issues” consuming Congress, such as health care and energy cap and trade. “The fight is far from over,” he said, and “I remain hopeful that we can keep private capital” in the federal student loan programs.
President Obama’s proposal, which has already transmuted from its initial form in February, originally called for shifting all Pell Grant funds from the “discretionary” side of the federal budget (where the program is subject to the whims of how much lawmakers choose to allocate for it each year) to the “mandatory” side, which would ensure a stable and, as Obama envisions it, growing flow of funds to the program each year.
But the nearly $300 billion price tag of such a move, in addition to opposition from Congressional appropriators (who don’t like the idea of losing control over how much the program receives), have the administration and its Democratic allies in Congress rethinking the mandatory approach. Exactly what they’ve settled on as an alternative is not clear, but those familiar with the discussions anticipate that lawmakers will put forward some kind of hybrid approach in which some Pell money comes from annual appropriations and some from mandatory funds. That’s the approach Congress used in passing the College Cost Reduction and Access Act two years ago, and it would achieve some of Obama’s goals without stripping Congressional appropriators of a meaningful role.
The House’s leading appropriator, Rep. David Obey, a Wisconsin Democrat, did not even address the prospect of the president’s Pell Grant proposal when the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies drafted an initial 2010 budget for those agencies. The House budget plan would provide the same $200 increase (to $5,500) that the Obama budget calls for in 2010, but is otherwise silent on the administration’s proposal to shift funding for Pell to the mandatory budget.
The appropriations panel’s bill would also keep most other student aid programs at their 2009 levels, but increase funds for the TRIO and Gear Up programs by $20 million each (to $868 million and $333 million, respectively).
(Unrelated to student aid, but still important to colleges and universities, the bill would also provide $31.3 billion for the National Institutes of Health, about a half billion more than the White House proposed in its budget, and $530 million for health professions education programs through the Health Services Research Administration.)
Interest Groups Weigh In
Two groups with close ties to the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats are releasing reports today that seek to influence the continuing deliberations over the plan to restructure the student aid programs.
The New America Foundation’s “Rethinking the Middleman” argues that hundreds of millions of dollars the government spends on subsidies to student loan guarantee agencies are either unnecessary expenditures or work at cross purposes by rewarding the agencies more when students default on their loans than when they pay them off. Guarantee agencies are fighting for their continued existence right now, as the Obama plan would significantly undermine them.
The outdated arrangement between the government and the agencies should be either ended (the foundation’s clear preference, the authors suggest) or revamped, to reimburse lenders for default losses, bar relationships between lenders and guarantors, and require agencies to compete (with other potential contractors) for the default prevention and loan rehabilitation duties they now fulfill.
The Project on Student Debt’s “Reasons & Recommendations for Retooling the Perkins Loan Program” aligns neatly with the Obama administration’s emerging ideas on how to remake the Perkins Loan Program, which has long been criticized in some quarters for going to a narrow group of institutions (dominated by private colleges and large, traditional public universities) that serve a comparatively small proportion of the nation’s students, especially those who are from low-income backgrounds.
The advocacy group’s report recommends that Perkins be restructured to “reward colleges for enrolling and graduating low- and middle-income students, prioritizing college affordability, and discouraging the use of risky private student loans.” Details are available here.
— Doug Lederman
Chairman of House Education Committee Backs Obama’s Loan Plan
Washington — The Democratic chairman of the education committee in the U.S. House of Representatives has rejected lenders’ pleas and will offer legislation soon to enact President Obama’s plan to end the guaranteed-student-loan program, an administration official confirmed today.
The decision by Rep. George Miller of California does not come as much of a surprise. Privately, college and student-loan lobbyists have been saying for weeks that the House was likely to adopt the president’s approach because of the savings it would generate. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that switching all loans to the government-run direct-loan system would save taxpayers $87-billion over 10 years.
Still, some lenders and guarantors had held out hope that the chairman might consider alternatives to an outright end to guaranteed lending, and last week dozens of entities offered a last-ditch “consensus plan” that they said would save as much money as Mr. Obama’s plan, while preserving a role for private capital.
It’s still unclear whether the House bill would set aside money for financial-literacy and other borrower services, as lenders and guarantors have proposed. Mr. Obama has said that a $5-billion fund that is part of his plan would pay for those programs.
Either way, lawmakers are not expected to use the savings that the bill would generate to make Pell Grants an entitlement, as the president proposed. Instead, they are likely to provide an infusion of “mandatory” money for the program, while allowing appropriators to continue to set the maximum award, lobbyists say. Additional money could go to community colleges, under a plan that the president is expected to announce at Michigan’s Macomb Community College on Tuesday, and to keeping interest rates on student loans low.
The powerful chairmen of the appropriations committees in both chambers of Congress have objected to Mr. Obama’s plan on the grounds that it would put a ceiling on the maximum award. Under the president’s proposal, the maximum Pell Grant would increase each year at a rate equal to the Consumer Price Index plus a percentage point.
The debate over student loans is far from over, however. The bill will face opposition from moderate Democrats, who are nervous about job losses in their districts, and must also clear the Senate, where some Democrats have voiced similar concerns. —Kelly Field
New Blood on Key House Education Panel
By guest blogger Erik Robelen:
Not only is there a new ranking Republican on the House education committee, Republicans now are getting a new staff director for the panel, Barrett Karr, who brings experience both in Congress and in the George W. Bush White House. Rep. John Kline, of Minnesota, the top Republican on the committee, made the announcement today. (See Alyson’s recent post on her interview with Rep. Kline here.)
A press release from the committee tells us that Karr brings “a wealth of knowledge on education, health care, and labor issues gained during a 13-year career that spanned both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.”
She will replace Sally Stroup, who is expected to step down at the end of this month.
For eight years, Karr worked for Rep. Kay Granger, a Texas Republican, the final four as chief of staff. Following that, Karr spent four years in legislative affairs at the White House, finishing as a deputy assistant to the president.
GAO: Most Districts Not Spending Stimulus on Reform
From guest blogger Dakarai I. Aarons:
The Obama Administration has said the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would not only help drag the economy out of the doldrums, but also lead efforts to make the nation better equipped and more competitive in a global economy.
Or as U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan so often puts it, the economic-stimulus funding should be used to save jobs and drive reform.
But a report by the Government Accountability Office, released this week to Congress, shows those hopes for big improvement initiatives in the area of education haven’t yet materialized. That’s particularly true when it comes to the $48.6 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, the biggest single pot of education-related stimulus funding.
Instead of focusing on the kinds of efforts Duncan has been traversing the country to promote, school district officials said they were planning to use the money primarily to avert layoffs, bolster professional development, and make up for any budget holes caused by cuts in state education funding.
School leaders in Flint, Mich., for example, said they simply didn’t have enough money to start thinking about reform:
“In Flint, Michigan, officials reported that SFSF funds will be used to cope with budget deficits rather than to advance programs, such as early childhood education or repairing public school facilities. According to the Superintendent of Flint Community Schools, the infrastructure in Flint is deteriorating, and no new school buildings have been built in over 30 years. Flint officials said they would like to use SFSF funds for renovating buildings and other programs, but the SFSF funds are needed to maintain current education programs.”
Even if schools wanted to use the state fiscal stabilization money for reform, the report found, many district leaders said they found directions on how to do so unclear.
“Officials in many school districts we visited reported having inadequate guidance from their state on using SFSF funding, making reform efforts more difficult to pursue. School district officials in most states we visited reported they lacked adequate guidance from their state to plan and report on the use of SFSF funding.”
The GAO is expected to release these stimulus updates every 60 days or so, and we’ll keep you posted on what they find.
Posted by Michele McNeil on July 10, 2009 4:35 PM
White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans begins a Series of “Community Conversations”
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced that Juan Sepulveda, Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, is beginning a series of community conversations next week in Texas. Sepulveda has contacted Hispanic communities nationwide and will continue to do so, as he begins this series with trips to several states and Puerto Rico between July and the end of September.
The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans was created by Executive Order on September 24, 1990 to improve Federal efforts to promote quality education for Hispanic Americans. Sepulveda is visiting Hispanic communities to gain input prior to updating the Executive Order later this year.
“Education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity and success, it is a prerequisite for success. We need to hear from and meet the needs of all students of all ages and eliminate the gaps in achievement between children of different backgrounds,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “My hope is that Juan Sepulveda helps us connect more closely to the Hispanic community and understand the challenges families face, so we are better able to provide clear paths to college and careers.”
Sepulveda will travel to Laredo, San Antonio, Brownsville, Austin, El Paso, and Houston next week, before visiting Chicago later this month. These trips will include visits with community leaders, elected officials, and educators. He will also host town hall-style “Community Conversations” to gain public input on the status of Hispanic education. The following is the schedule of next week’s Community Conversations:
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Texas A&M International University
Student Center—5201 University Boulevard
Monday, July 13, 2009
San Antonio, TX
University of Texas at San Antonio
Downtown Campus—501 W. Durango Street, Southwest Room
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
University of Texas at Brownsville
Salon Cassia, Education and Business Complex
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Austin Community College
Room 1130—South Austin Campus, 1820 W. Stassney Lane
Thursday, July 16, 2009
El Paso, TX
El Paso Community College
Building A—Board Room, Administrative Service Center
Friday, July 17, 2009
Houston Community College
3100 Main Street—Auditorium