Superintendent Monthly: April 2011
Message from Dr. Meléndez
In the past two weeks, we've had two important school turnaround events -- the first regional School Improvement Grant Conferences in the West and East coasts. Thanks to the work of our regional comprehensive centers, national content centers, and staff in OESE, both conferences were very successful. I was so encouraged to hear about the dramatic changes happening in our schools across the country, and to see the courage of school, district, and state leaders who are taking a stand for our students.
April has also been exciting because I have had the opportunity to visit several more SIG schools in California and Virginia, and see firsthand the transformations occurring in these schools. This is incredibly tough work, but so many of our low-performing schools are on their way to turning around, and our children are beginning to see the fruits of your labor. Thank you for your work, and thank you for carrying on the work until we are able to assure all students access to a high quality education.
FY2011 Budget Details Announced
On Friday evening (http://1.usa.gov/hhLDlP) and in his Saturday weekly address (http://1.usa.gov/dZAYLE), President Obama discussed the bipartisan budget agreement that averted a government shutdown, cuts spending, and invests in the future.
The deal, which finances the federal government through September 30, cuts spending by $78.5 billion from the President’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget request and is $37.6 billion below FY 2010 enacted levels (http://1.usa.gov/i3vUKM). Funding levels for certain agency programs are specified; the Department is determining funding levels for remaining agency programs (http://1.usa.gov/i4SYhe). Key education programs, including Title I grants to school districts ($14.5 billion) and special education grants to states ($12.3 billion), are approximately level-funded. (All domestic discretionary programs are reduced by 0.2% due to an across-the-board rescission.) The maximum Pell Grant award will stay at $5,550. There is also new funding for innovative programs, with approximately $700 million for a new round of Race to the Top (with a priority on early childhood education), $150 million for another round of Investing in Innovation (i3) grants, and a $20 million increase for the Promise Neighborhoods program.
New Issue of the School Turnaround Newsletter
The latest issue of the School Turnaround Newsletter is now available online. In this issue, turnaround teams and directors from four states reflect on their first year implementing the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program, and what they've learned from their experiences so far. We also share new resources for school turnaround in the newsletter, along with a reminder to register for our Spring 2011 Regional SIG Conferences. Click here to access the newsletter: http://1.usa.gov/hH6lXK. For previous issues of the newsletter, visit: http://1.usa.gov/gdHREl.
2011 SIG Regional Conferences Now Underway
Dr. Meléndez helped kick off both the Western Regional Conference, held on April 5-6 in Los Angeles, and the Eastern Regional Conference, held on April 13-14 in Washington DC with remarks that underscored the vision and the goals for the School Improvement Grant. Registration is still open for the remaining two conferences to be held in May -- be sure to register and not miss out on this important conference!
- May 18-19 — Midwest Conference in Chicago, IL (High School Theme): http://bit.ly/gXYyMH
- May 24-25 — Central Conference in Denver, CO (Rural and Native American Populations Theme): http://bit.ly/hogDvd
Literacy Resources for SIG Schools
The Center on Instruction has produced a series of 5 webinars, in conjunction with Doing What Works, on topics related to adolescent literacy. These are recorded professional development webinars designed for SIG grantees, with content from the Center on Instruction and handouts and activities from the DWW adolescent literacy website. This is a valuable resource for SIG schools and districts who may be looking for more resources on improving literacy. Here are the available webinars in the "Using Doing What Works (DWW) Resources to Support SIG Grantees in Adolescent Literacy" series:
- School Leadership
- Research Overview
- Explicit Vocabulary Instruction in Middle and High School
- Text Discussion
- Intensive Interventions for Struggling Readers
Univision Town Hall
On March 25, President Obama participated in a Univision-sponsored town hall event on education at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, DC. The forum gave the President an opportunity to discuss the importance of education in the rapidly growing Latino community, and in the country as a whole. Hispanics are the largest and the fastest-growing minority group, representing 22 percent of all public school students. Yet, Hispanics have the lowest educational attainment levels of any group in the U.S. Learn more: http://1.usa.gov/gVEjdD. To read about the event, visit the White House blog.
ED Hosts Interagency Council on Homelessness
For the first time in recent memory, ED hosted a Full Council Meeting of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) on March 30. In attendance were Chair of USICH and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Veterans Affairs Tammy Duckworth, and Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael Astrue. The agenda focused on strategies to end homelessness at the state and city levels and what the federal government can do to support these efforts. Secretary Solis facilitated a question and answer session with state and city government officials, including Mayor Ashley Swearengin of Fresno, CA; Mayor Michael Coleman of Columbus, OH; Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper; Lieutenant Governor of Utah Greg Bell; and Lieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsom. For more information about USICH, please visit www.ich.gov.
Equity Assistance Centers
Equity Assistance Centers are funded by the Department to provide technical assistance and training, upon request, in the areas of race, sex, and national origin to public school districts and other responsible governmental agencies to promote equitable education opportunities.
Deadline to Apply: April 25, 2011
Type of Grant: Discretionary/Competitive
Who May Apply: Nonprofit organizations, other organizations and/or agencies
Learn More: http://bit.ly/hh5vCF
The purpose of the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy (SRCL) discretionary grants is to create a comprehensive literacy program to advance literacy skills — including pre-literacy skills, reading, and writing — for students from birth through grade 12, including limited-English-proficient students and students with disabilities.
Deadline to Apply: May 9, 2011
Type of Grant: Discretionary/Competitive
Who May Apply: States that apply on behalf of itself and one or more districts (may include charter schools) that have governing authority over the eligible schools that the applicant proposes to include in the project.
Learn More: http://1.usa.gov/gF8ewx
Advanced Placement Incentive Program
This program provides grants to eligible entities to enable them to increase the participation of low-income students in both pre-AP and AP courses and tests.
Deadline to Apply: May 16, 2011
Type of Grant: Discretionary/Competitive
Who May Apply: Districts, nonprofit organizations, and states
Learn More: http://bit.ly/fZsj9X
Small, Rural School Achievement Program << NEW!
The purpose of this program is to provide financial assistance to rural districts to assist them in meeting their state's definition of adequate yearly progress (AYP).
Deadline to Apply: June 30, 2011
Type of Grant: Formula
Who May Apply: Districts and other local education agencies
Learn More: http://1.usa.gov/emEytV
Dr. Meléndez on the White House Blog
On April 1, Dr. Meléndez published a post on the White House blog highlighting the importance of interagency partnerships in our work to provide an excellent, high quality education to every child. In the post, she highlights ED's partnership with Health and Human Services through programs like Head Start among others, and makes the case that strong partnerships lead to successful students. Learn more: http://1.usa.gov/dMnN6u.
Department of Education Updates
Finalists Announced for Race to the Top Commencement Challenge
The White House and the U.S. Department of Education announced the six high schools selected as finalists for this year’s Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge. As part of the next step of the Commencement Challenge, the Get Schooled Foundation will work with each school to produce a video for the online voting portion of the challenge. The six finalists are:
- Bridgeport High School (Bridgeport, Washington)
- Wayne Early Middle College High School (Goldsboro, North Carolina)
- Booker T. Washington High School (Memphis, Tennessee)
- Science Park High School (Newark, New Jersey)
- Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12, School for Creative and Performing Arts (Pittsburgh, PA)
- High Tech High International (San Diego, CA)
Learn more: http://1.usa.gov/gaopGZ.
April Superintendent Call
The topic of our conversation will be based on a set of documents recently released by the Department on productivity and flexibility. The documents are geared towards State leaders and share promising practices about how to spend education dollars productively and highlighting flexibility available for spending federal funds. You can find the press release and the documents here: http://1.usa.gov/eyUHnw.
DATE and TIME: Tuesday, April 19, 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. EST
CALL IN #: 800-857-6260
RSVP: Please reply to this message (or Tina.Chong@ed.gov), if you or a designated representative will be able to join the call.
NOTE: In order to accommodate a large number of participants, please only use one line per office. Also, please call-in 10-15 minutes early. A more detailed agenda will be sent to confirmed conference participants.
Celebrate School Library Month
April is School Library Month. This year’s theme is "Create Your Own Story.” To celebrate the month, the American Association of School Librarians has a wide range of programming and publicity materials. Learn more: http://bit.ly/hcZ1oL.
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