It's back to school for Congress. Today, Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, held his first organizational meeting with the 113th Congress's iteration of his committee. In his opening remarks, Kline said reauthorizing No Child Left Behind will remain a "top priority." NCLB, the sweeping law that governs public K-12 education, expired in 2007.
So There Was An Inauguration... As you might have heard, this weekend, President Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term. And at the inauguration, he gave a speech. The Washington Post's Valerie Strauss teased out O's references to education. (Hint: There weren't many. For the most part, Obama lumped in education with other domestic policy issues in need of reform). More here from Politics K-12.
Obama 2.0? As part of the Huffington Post's series on Obama's second term ("The Road Forward,") we reported out this story on his plans. The White House and Education Department have so far been pretty tight-lipped about their plans, but a few little birdies told us that they're cooking something up on the early education front. See here for more.
Cluster Suck? The New York Daily News takes another look at the StudentsFirstNY teacher distribution report and finds something stunning: 20 percent of teachers are "bad" teachers in each of 14 Brooklyn schools. To give you some perspective: only 3 percent of all city school teachers got these negative ratings. And two of those schools received "A" ratings from the Department of Education. (I should note here that these ratings are volatile, etc., but you already knew that.)
No Closure Cash? A recent trend in urban education has been school closures. New York City recently made headlines for releasing a lengthly list of schools slated to be closed. Philadelphia has made similar news. And Chicago is now deciding which of its "underutilized" schools it will close. A similar thread between all these closures has been the argument that closing schools saves money. But a new study adds to the growing body of evidence that shows this may not actually be true.
Less Texas Testing? As Texas prepares its budget, lawmakers in the Lone Star State are trying to make a statement on standardized testing. Currently, KUT News notes, testing is "zeroed out" in the House budget. That means it's still in there, just followed by a bunch of zeroes. "We want to start the conversation on testing," House Budget writer and Republican state representative Jim Pitts told KUT. "And we're gonna have a lot of hearings between now and the end of the session on education and some things that we're going to do in education. And we sure want testing to be one of the number one things. And that's why we did it." We are grateful to KUT for asking, since we were wondering ourselves: yes, says Texas Education Agency spokesperson Dabbie Ratcliffe, this is probably the first time in Texas history such a tactic has been used to discuss testing.
A Somewhat Happy Education Headline? America's students are graduating high school at higher rates, according to a new Harvard report (via the Wall Street Journal.) In 2000, researchers found, 77.6 percent of Americans ages 20-24 had high school diplomas; 10 years later, 83.7 percent of that same group held diplomas. "The improvement was particularly sharp among blacks and Hispanics," WSJ reports. "For instance, in 2000, 61.2% of black men between 20 and 24 had finished high school; in 2010, 72.0% of black men in that age bracket had." But even so, 20 percent of American men between 20 and 24 -- and 14 percent of women -- still lack that crucial certification.
A few minutes ago, a wire story was filed quoting an official speaking "on the condition of anonymity because a public announcement has not been made." The official apparently whispered into the ear of the reporter that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan would be sticking around for President Barack Obama's second term. Color us puzzled.
One upon a time, education was known as a bipartisan issue in Congress. The passage of No Child Left Behind, for example, was heralded by Democrats like Ted Kennedy and George Miller, as well as Republicans like John Boehner and former President George W. Bush.