Superintendent Monthly: February 2011

Superintendent Monthly: February 2011


Message from Dr. Meléndez

It was wonderful to connect with so many of you for during our February Conference Call and Webinar for Superintendents earlier this month. Thank you for joining us -- I hope you found it useful to hear from your peers on some important strategies for improving teaching and learning. We will schedule the next call for sometime in April, so keep an eye out for a "save the date" notice, coming soon!

February has been a busy month for the Department as a whole. Many of the Department's senior leaders, including my deputies, Dr. Carl E. Harris and Michael Yudin, and me, just returned to Washington, DC after spending several days in Denver, CO for the Labor Management Collaboration Conference. We learned a lot from district and labor leaders who are working together to improve teacher and education policies on behalf of their students, and I look forward to sharing some of the highlights in the coming weeks.

It's been so helpful to receive feedback on our outreach efforts, including the Superintendent Monthly and our Superintendent calls. Please keep your thoughts coming -- we are dedicated to making these resources as helpful as possible for your daily work on the ground.

The President's Budget and ESEA Reauthorization

BudgetPresident Obama's Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Released

President Obama released his proposal for the FY2012 budget on Monday, February 14, reflecting this Administration's commitment to invest responsibly, advance reform, and demand results. While the proposal calls for continued investment in education, the budget also makes tough choices and finds efficiencies to help pay for those investments.

At a time when other Cabinet agencies are being cut or having their budgets frozen, the Department of Education's budget will include investments in the following priorities:

  • Funding high quality Early Learning programs, including $350 million for a new Early Learning Challenge Fund;
  • Promoting reform and innovation through programs, including $900 million for a new round of Race to the Top programs for district
  • Improving college access and completion through increased Pell Grants and other state and local programs;
  • Supporting the next generation of teachers and leaders, especially in high-need schools and subjects; and
  • Continuing our commitment to serve at-risk students by maintaining formula funding for those students, including $300 million more for Title I and $250 million more for special education.

Additional information on the U.S. Department of Education’s FY 2012 budget proposal is available at

Secretary Duncan Talks Reauthorization

In a series of conference calls the week of the State of the Union Address, Secretary Arne Duncan discussed the importance of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). He spoke with education funders; the national media, joined by a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators who serve on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; and journalists from rural communities and education writers who cover rural schools, joined by National Rural Education Association Executive Director John Hill. Learn more:

School Turnarounds

Superintendent Call and Webinar Focuses on School Turnarounds

On February 7, OESE hosted a Superintendent Call and Webinar that featured remarks from Secretary Duncan and a presentation on school turnaround efforts by Miami Dade County Public Schools. Some follow up materials are available now on the OESE Blog:

  • Information and resources on "Parent Academies" implemented by Miami Dade can be found on
  • A recording of the call and the copy of the presentation used during the webinar are available at

You may also contact Assistant Superintendent Nikolai Vitti at with any additional questions on the district's work on implementing School Improvement Grants. Have ideas for the future conference calls? Email Dr. Meléndez at

Save the Date - SIG Regional Conferences

OESE, in partnership with its Comprehensive Centers, will host a series of regional capacity-building conferences to support states and districts as they implement their School Improvement Grants. Four conferences are planned: Eastern (April 5-6) and Western (April 13-14) regional conferences for all SIG grantees in those regions; two additional regional conferences in the Midwest and Central areas will focus on specific segments of SIG grantees: high schools (May 18-19) and rural/Native American schools (May 24-25). More information, including registration details, will be announced shortly. For save the date details:

Diverse Populations

National Conversations on English Learner Education

The Department’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) is hosting a series of regional meetings to engage stakeholders on what makes for quality education for English Learners.  A diverse assembly of stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, policymakers, researchers, students, and parents, will have the opportunity to identify areas of concern, share promising practices for classrooms and schools, and define new directions for reform and transformation in English Learner instruction.  The series consists of three common dialogues, on different dates, each with a satellite site.  The first meeting was held February 10 and 11, but two other sessions are planned for March and April. There is no registration fee, and participants may use state and local Title I and/or Title III funds (if available) to pay for their travel and lodging.  Learn more:

Grant Information

Improving Literacy through School Libraries

This program helps LEAs improve reading achievement by providing students with increased access to up-to-date school library materials; well-equipped, technologically advanced school library media centers; and professionally certified school library media specialists.
Deadline to Apply: March 28, 2011
Type of Grant: Discretionary/Competitive
Who May Apply: Local education agencies in which at least 20 percent of students served are from families with incomes below the poverty line.
Learn More:

Alaska Native Education Equity

The overall purpose is to meet the unique education needs of Alaska Natives and to support supplemental education programs to benefit Alaska Natives.
Deadline to Apply: April 1, 2011
Type of Grant: Discretionary/Competitive
Who May Apply: Public and private nonprofit organizations, agencies, and institutions, including states, districts, and institutes of higher education.
Learn More:

Teaching American History

The program is designed to raise student achievement by improving teachers' knowledge and understanding of and appreciation for traditional U.S. history.
Deadline to Apply: April 4, 2011
Type of Grant: Discretionary/Competitive
Who May Apply: Local educational agencies in partnership with institutes of higher education, non-profit history or humanities organizations, and libraries and museums.
Learn More:

Native Hawaiian Education Program

The purpose of the Native Hawaiian Education (NHE) program is to support innovative projects that enhance the educational services provided to Native Hawaiian children and adults.
Deadline to Apply: April 11, 2011
Type of Grant: Discretionary/Competitive
Who May Apply: Public and private nonprofit organizations, agencies, and institutions, including states, districts, and institutes of higher education.
Learn More:

Department of Education Updates

Education Data Dashboard

The first version of the U.S. Education Dashboard is now live at With 16 indicators ranging from student participation in early learning through completion of postsecondary education, the Dashboard provides convenient and transparent access to key national and state education data. The indicators will be updated as new information becomes available, and users are encouraged to send comments to

Labor-Management Conference

On February 15-16, superintendents, school board chairs, and teacher union leaders from 150 school districts across 40 states came together in Denver, CO to discuss transforming the relationship between labor and management into strong partnerships for the improvement of student outcomes. Over the course of the conference, participants met in breakout sessions, heard promising practices from fellow district and labor leaders, and participated in panel discussions with experts form the field. Learn more:

Supporting Military Families

Recently, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Dr. Jill Biden announced nearly 50 commitments by federal agencies responding to the President's new directive to establish a coordinated and comprehensive federal approach to supporting military families. For the Department of Education, this means supporting military families will be one of its supplemental prioirites for discrentionary grant programs. The Department has already made accessing and processing financial aid more tailored to military families and less prone to the financial fluctations of Guard and Reserve personnel. Learn more:

Upcoming Events

Commencement Challenge

On February 1, the White House opened the 2011 Race to the Top Commencement Challenge. Students from public high schools across the country are invited to demonstrate how their school prepares them for college and a career by submitting an application. The winning school will host President Obama as their 2011 commencement speaker. Applications must be submitted by Friday, February 25, 2011. Learn more:

2009 NAEP Trial Urban District Asssessment in Science

On February 24, the Department's National Center for Education Statistics, part of the IES, will release results from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Trial Urban District Asessment (TUDA) in science. Learn more:

Quote of the Month

"If we take these steps -- if we raise expectations for every child and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they are born until the last job they take -- we will reach the goal I set two years ago: by the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world."

- President Barack Obama, 2011 State of the Union Address

Copyright © 2011 U.S. Department of Education, All rights reserved.

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