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AAE Federal Update November 29, 2010
posted by: Colin | December 01, 2010, 01:12 PM   

The plan advocates for transforming American education to include technology in all aspects, offering a model with key initiatives in five areas: learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure and productivity. Each core section outlines concepts for using technology to transform education, with the aim to achieve each goal by 2015:

  • Learning: Change the learning process so it's more engaging and tailored to students' needs and interests.
  • Assessment: Measure student progress on the full range of college and career ready standards and use real time data for continuous improvement.
  • Teaching: Connect teachers to the tools, resources, experts and peers they need to be highly effective and supported.
  • Infrastructure: Provide broadband connectivity for all students, everywhere-in schools, throughout communities and in students' homes.
  • Productivity: Use technology to help schools become more productive and accelerate student achievement while managing costs.
Technology is a key component in reaching the administration's goals of making sure at least 60% of the U.S. population holds a two- year or four- year degree by 2020 as well as closing the achievement gap so that all students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and careers.

Duncan stressed, "Technology empowers teachers like never before to support their personal mission of providing the best possible education to their students. But it's important to remember that technology alone isn't going to improve student achievement. The best combination is great teachers working with technology to personalize the learning experience and engage students in the pursuit of the learning they need." Certainly cutting edge technology is not the only factor in student achievement; great teachers are a critical component of the future of implementing new technology is schools.

You can read the department's entire technology plan by clicking here.

Duncan Speaks on "Doing More with Less" in Education

Recently Secretary Duncan spoke to the American Enterprise Institute on what he called, "the new normal" in federal education spending. Duncan warned that K-12 and post-secondary educators will have to "do more with less" money in the years to come.

Duncan highlighted that historically the federal government provides about eight percent of K-12 revenue, with the states making up about half the funding. Unfortunately with the recession, state budgets have yet to recover and many school systems around the country are feeling the pinch.

Despite these harsh realities, Duncan said that our country must rise to the occasion. "My message is that this challenge can, and should be, embraced as an opportunity to make dramatic improvements. I believe enormous opportunities for improving the productivity of our education system lie ahead if we are smart, innovative, and courageous in rethinking the status quo."

Duncan cautioned that the wrong way to respond to budget shortfalls is by slashing school days, eliminating the arts and foreign languages, abandoning promising reforms, and laying off talented, young teachers. He stressed that implementing low-cost reforms were the key to not only overcoming budget woes but improving the nations schools overall.

The full text of his speech can be found here.

Duncan Urges Congress to Pass Legislation to Improve School Meals

Secretary Duncan and Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack urged congress to pass legislation that would improve student meals during the lame duck session of congress. They highlighted the opportunities for improving the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs through the child nutrition bill pending in the House and how children through out the country would in theory be provided with better nutrition.

"A hungry child struggles to learn," Duncan said. "If our children are going to succeed in school, we need to make sure they have access to nutritious meals at home or at school."

The bill, entitled the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, would:

  • Increase access to meal programs. Using Medicaid data, states will be able to directly certify children who meet income requirements without requiring individual applications and setting benchmarks for states to continually improve performance
  • Improve nutrition standards. Establishing improved nutrition standards for school meals based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and taking additional steps to ensure compliance with these standards and providing additional financial support in the form of reimbursement rate increases for schools that enhance nutrition and quality
  • Increase education about healthy eating. Providing parents and students better information about school nutrition and meal quality;
  • Establish standards for competitive foods sold in schools. Creating national baseline standards for all foods sold in elementary, middle, and high schools to ensure they contribute effectively to a healthy diet;
  • Increase physical activity. Strengthening school wellness policy implementation and promoting physical activity in schools;
  • Train people who prepare school meals. Ensuring that child nutrition professionals have the skills to serve top-quality meals that are both healthful and appealing to their student customers;
  • Enhance food safety. Expanding the current requirements of the food safety program to all facilities where food is stored, prepared and served.
Good nutrition for children has been a priority of the Obama administration since he took office. This piece of legislation is the center piece of the First Lady's "Let's Move!" campaign. The cost of the bill is 4.5 billion dollars.

Kline Pens Op-ed: More Jobs, Less Government Tops Education Agenda for 2011

Congressman John Kline, presumed Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee recently wrote an op-ed that gave some insight to his legislative priorities for the 112th congress.

Entitled, "More jobs, less government tops education agenda for 2011", it stresses the need for less federal oversight in education, explaining it does "more harm than good" according to Kline.

He also mentioned education reform as a pressing concern in America. He highlighted, "Too many parents are denied meaningful choices about where and how their children will be educated. Too many schools are failing to prepare our children for success in the 21st century. And far too many teachers, principals, and state leaders feel constrained in their ability to improve the status quo because of layers of bureaucracy and onerous federal mandates."

Kline also alludes to an increased number of Americans advocating for eradicating the Department of Education. He explains, " What makes us think bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. can manage our classrooms and prepare our children for success any more effectively than qualified teachers and engaged local school boards? This frustration is the natural consequence of a system that has grown in size, influence, and cost but yielded few meaningful rewards in the eyes of parents and educators."

The op-ed certainly foreshadows a certain direction that Kline intends to take the committee next year. His rhetoric suggests a focus on smaller government, less intervention, and a strong focus on school choice. Although no one anticipates a push to abolish the Department of Education spearheaded by Kline, the mere mention suggests a shift in focus of the committee.

A full text of the op-ed, including his thoughts on labor issues can be found here.

>> Originally posted by Alix on the AAE Blog.
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