Archive for February, 2009

Stimulus Q&A

Michele McNeil and Alyson Klein of Education Week have hosted a 4-part Q&A session on the stimulus package on their blog, Politics K-12. The Q&A posts provide a good overview in layman’s terms about how the stimulus money could impact states, districts and schools.

Round 1 focused on dollar amounts.

Round 2 focused on teachers.

Rounds 3 and 4 focused on what funds can be used for.

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Live Blog: PTA Focus Day

The rally was a huge success! Legislators and the media heard the message: The time is now for education reform. We owe it to our kids because they are our future!

PTA parents from across the state spoke up for their kids and schools. One mom from Friday Harbor said budget cuts have already gotten rid of the lunch program. Further cuts could mean the loss of one of their principals.

Another mom from Puyallup said budget cuts could mean the loss of their early learning programs. She said, “We need to fund education from the beginning, otherwise we’ll be building prisons in the end.”

LEV’s Lisa Macfarlane said the “sleeping giant” had awoken. The PTA is a force for change. And legislators agreed. They are working on school reform this session, but they need the help of PTA and other education advocates to succeed.

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The snow is not stopping these energized parents from Seattle this morning. We’re heading down to Olympia to join hundreds of other PTA activists from Spokane, Bellingham, Bellevue, Issaquah and many more.

The chatter is non-stop on the bus. The conversation is about what to say to legislators and the day’s events. And ofcourse, the rally on the Capitol steps at noon.

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Obama: "Dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country – and this country needs and values the talents of every American."

Tonight Obama prioritized education. He also challenged everyone in America to commit to at least one year of postsecondary education or career training. A bold new goal for a bold new time when over 75% of new jobs will require training beyond high school.

I’ve pasted his comments on education below. Full transcript of his speech is available here.

The third challenge we must address is the urgent need to expand the promise of education in America.

In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity – it is a pre-requisite.

Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma. And yet, just over half of our citizens have that level of education. We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation. And half of the students who begin college never finish.

This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow. That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education – from the day they are born to the day they begin a career.

Already, we have made an historic investment in education through the economic recovery plan. We have dramatically expanded early childhood education and will continue to improve its quality, because we know that the most formative learning comes in those first years of life. We have made college affordable for nearly seven million more students. And we have provided the resources necessary to prevent painful cuts and teacher layoffs that would set back our children’s progress.

But we know that our schools don’t just need more resources. They need more reform. That is why this budget creates new incentives for teacher performance; pathways for advancement, and rewards for success. We’ll invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we will expand our commitment to charter schools.

It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country – and this country needs and values the talents of every American. That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

I know that the price of tuition is higher than ever, which is why if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education. And to encourage a renewed spirit of national service for this and future generations, I ask this Congress to send me the bipartisan legislation that bears the name of Senator Orrin Hatch as well as an American who has never stopped asking what he can do for his country – Senator Edward Kennedy.

These education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children. But it is up to us to ensure they walk through them. In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father who will attend those parent/teacher conferences, or help with homework after dinner, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, and read to their child. I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father when I say that responsibility for our children’s education must begin at home.

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