Thursday, April 15, 2010

THE AMAZING RACE [TO THE TOP]: Unreality, redefined

snarky commentary by smf for 4LAKids

April 15, 2010 – YOUR SCHOOL TAXES @ WORK:  So yesterday the LAUSD Board of Ed approved eliminating 10 schooldays from the futures of 617,798 kids (a cumulative 34,322 school years of education) and 12 days from the paychecks of 31,876 teachers and administrators to save $147 million – and decided to invest a good deal of the money they saved in solar panels and moving the school police HQ 13 blocks. Plus $50 million for projects to be named later. 

They did this in the depth of  “a budget crisis of the most unprecedented proportion” -- while the superintendent (whose definition of the crisis that is) was on an airplane to go plead for more money from the federal government. 

And at the Washington DC hearing did Superintendent Cortines make a case for the best idea he’s had in recent memory?  That LAUSD – the Charter School/School Reform Capital of the World be allowed to apply on its own for Race to the Top funds – separate from the functionally challenged Sacramento budgetary sinkhole …thinking not just out of the box but truly pushing the limits of the envelope? 


Was he critical of the judging criteria of RttT?


But it gets better. Here’s some thinking  from the Secretary of Education at that same hearing in the article that follows:

“Following his testimony, Mr. Duncan told reporters that he would like to see Congress pass an education jobs package in May, so that school districts could count on the aid as they work out their budgets for the next school year.”

I don’t know how they do it in Chicago, but California school districts are supposed to “work out” their budget three years in advance. We have passed the date teachers and administrators need to be notified whether they have a job or not. School Site Councils are making decisions whether to rehire nurses, librarians, psychologists and clerical staff right now!  The Fiscal Year and the School Year begin on July 1. Some students in LAUSD start school on July 6th.

Duncan is using the same federal paradigm for rescue as the infamous “Brownie” ran after Katrina in New Orleans: Too little, too late.

Luckily charter schools will save us.



By Alyson Klein | Ed Week Vol. 29, Issue 29 |

April 14, 2010 – U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today urged Congress to pass new aid to preserve education jobs. He testified before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that deals with education spending on the same day the panel’s chairman introduced a bill that would provide $23 billion for that purpose.

The legislation offered by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, would be modeled on the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. That fund was included in the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic-stimulus measure approved by Congress last year. The money could be used for compensation and benefits to help districts hold on to existing employees and to hire new staff members to provide early-childhood, K-12, or postsecondary services. It could also be used for on-the-job training for “education-related careers.”

Secretary Duncan’s public support for such aid marks the first time the Obama administration has explicitly called for new federal funding to help schools weather the continuing economic problems facing states and school districts.

“It is brutal out there,” Mr. Duncan told reporters after his testimony. “It is really scary. We’re seeing massive layoffs around the country.”

The ARRA included up to $100 billion for education. But the law only covers fiscal 2009 and 2010, so states and districts are bracing for a major fiscal squeeze—the so-called “funding cliff”—when those dollars dry up. Districts are considering a range of measures, including eliminating summer school programs, reducing staff, trimming benefits, and even shortening the school year.

In December, the House of Representatives approved a measure that would also allocate $23 billion in job aid to schools, but the Senate has yet to consider such legislation.

The House measure also includes $4.1 billion for school facilities, an issue that Mr. Harkin has championed. But he said facilities funding would not be in his version of the bill. Sen. Harkin said in an interview that, while he isn’t “giving up” on the idea of more aid for school modernization, he wants to keep the focus of this package on jobs.


Following his testimony, Mr. Duncan told reporters that he would like to see Congress pass an education jobs package in May, so that school districts could count on the aid as they work out their budgets for the next school year. He said he wasn’t sure if the $23 billion that Sen. Harkin is proposing would be sufficient, but he called it “a good start.”

Sen. Harkin agreed that Congress needs to act quickly, saying the measure “can’t wait until August” when many teachers would already have been put out of work.

“The number of pink slips for educators for educators could easily, easily, top 100,000,” Mr. Harkin said in his opening statement at the hearing. “Job cuts of this magnitude would, of course, have a devastating impact on families throughout the country.”

The senator said the $23 billion figure is roughly half of what was in the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund portion of the stimulus package, which covered two fiscal years. The new measure would only cover the 2010-11 school year.

During the hearing, Sen. Harkin said the cost of the bill doesn’t need to be offset by other revenue because it would be considered emergency spending. So far, his measure has attracted more than a dozen co-sponsors, all Democrats.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the top Republican on the Senate education appropriations subcommittee, did not support the ARRA. But he left open the possibility that he would back a more limited package aimed only at education, saying that he was taking a look at his colleague’s measure.

During the hearing, the state superintendent of schools in Mr. Shelby’s home state, Joseph B. Morton, urged lawmakers to support Sen. Harkin’s bill. He said he surveyed his districts and found that, without the additional aid, there are likely to be more than 2,800 job cuts in Alabama next year, including nearly 1,600 teachers.

“We know that we need a jobs bill,” he said.

Ramon Cortines, the superintendent of the Los Angeles school system, which recently agreed to shorten the school year by five days to help avert layoffs, also testified in support of the measure. He said it could save as many as 3,000 jobs in his district alone.

“Our students and teachers are losing instructional time and taking a pay cut,” Mr. Cortines said. Layoffs are still expected, he added. [Cortines' full statement:]


During the hearing, lawmakers began to push back on the Education Department’s approach to the $4 billion Race to the Top competition, which rewards states for making progress on teacher quality and distribution, standards and assessments, state data systems, and low-performing school turnarounds. The Obama administration has asked Congress to provide $1.35 billion in fiscal 2011 to extend the program.

Forty states and the District of Columbia applied for the first round of funding, but only Delaware and Tennessee were awarded grants. States have the opportunity to compete for a second phase of funding, which will be allocated later this year.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., whose home state was a finalist for the program and was considered a front-runner, sharply criticized the judging system for the competition. She said her state, which placed eleventh in the competition, would have done better if the department had discarded each state’s highest and lowest scores.

Ms. Landrieu also said she was dismayed that the competition placed a premium on getting districts and unions to support state plans. While both the winners had near-universal backing from districts and unions, Louisiana was only able to get 67 percent of districts and 78 percent of its unions on board. That shouldn’t have cost the state its grant, she said.

“Nothing in our application was watered down,” Sen. Landrieu told Mr. Duncan. “The problem is that if you push to get everyone there, you will give us no choice but to water down. … There are many members [of Congress] ... that are absolutely taken aback by the posture of this department.”

Sen. Shelby pointed out that states only receive an additional 15 points out of a possible 500 for having a plan to boost education in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology.

“That seems to be low and is troubling to me,” he said. “Fifteen points out of 500 [for an area that will] drive the nation and the world in the future. …. It seems like it’s upside down; this needs to be changed.”

Sen. Harkin promised to “look into” that issue.

“That doesn’t sound like it should be,” he agreed.

Coverage from Google News

Bill seeks $23b for schools

Boston Globe - Nick Anderson -

WASHINGTON — The Senate's leading Democrat on education issues proposed a $23 billion bailout yesterday to help public schools across the ...

Fund Proposed to Prevent Some Teacher Firings

New York Times

By BLOOMBERG NEWS Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, introduced legislation on Wednesday to create a $23 billion jobs fund to prevent teachers from being ...

Senate Democrats want bailout for public school jobs - Danny Yadron 

WASHINGTON — The Senate's most powerful Democrat on education unveiled a $23 billion bailout for public schools on ...

"This has to move right away," said Harkin. "The pink slips are going out right now, and it can't wait."

more by Tom Harkin - 20 hours ago - (3 occurrences)

Senator Harkin Proposes $23 Billion Fund to Save Teacher Jobs

BusinessWeek - Oliver Staley - ‎Apr 14, 2010‎

April 14 (Bloomberg) -- Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, wants to create a $23 billion jobs fund to prevent teachers in the US from ...

Sen. Harkin proposes $23 billion bailout for schools

Washington Post - Nick Anderson - ‎Apr 14, 2010‎

As public schools nationwide face larger class sizes and cuts in programs, the Senate's leading Democrat on education issues proposed a $23 ...

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In DC, Democrats propose $23b in emergency school aid

Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) - Jim Galloway - ‎Apr 14, 2010‎

In an effort to stave off massive school layoffs, Democratic leaders are proposing $23 billion in emergency aid to the nation's school districts and public ...

Something worth tossing into the mix regarding haggling in Trenton over ...

Asbury Park Press (blog) - Michael Symons – ‎

Congressional Quarterly is reporting that Democratic leaders in the US Senate are proposing $23 billion in emergency aid to the nation's school districts ...

Harkin pushing $23-billion school job measure (blog) - Tom Beaumont -

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin wants Congress to pass a $23-billion emergency appropriation for schools which he said is needed to prevent layoffs for teachers and ...

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United States

Education secretary pushes for education jobs


AP - April 15, 2010 3:45 PM ET NEW YORK (AP) - US Education Secretary Arne Duncan has taken his push for education jobs to New York City. ...

US Sen. Harkin: Radio actualities available (press release) -

KEEPING OUR EDUCATORS ON THE JOB. Senator Harkin discusses the need for an Education Jobs Fund, which he introduced yesterday, to stave off massive layoffs ...

Job Aid for Cash-Strapped Schools? Harkin Proposes

Texas Insider -

More money for schools contemplating layoffs, furloughs, and other cuts? It could happen if a bill set to be introduced this week by Sen. ...

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Washington, DC

Duncan Voices Support for $23 Billion Education Jobs Measure -

WASHINGTON, April 14 — Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, called on colleagues to support legislation he introduced today to provide a $23 billion, one-year infusion ...

Duncan Hears Complaints About "Race" Process -

WASHINGTON, April 14 — Even as the second round of competition under Race to the Top (RTT) opens (see below), one senator today criticized the approach the ...

Harkin: Education Too Important Not to Mortgage Our Future

Cato @ Liberty - Neal McCluskey - ‎

Yesterday, I wrote about a bill introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) that would allocate $23 billion to protect public schooling employment against the end ...

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