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Morning Announcements: September 29, 2011

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September 29, 2011 02:36 pm

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Education Week reports that the Republicans running for president may be working to stand out from the pack on some issues, but it already appears that most of the nine current candidates are largely united when it comes to K-12 policy: They want to dramatically shrink the federal role. Some candidates, including Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Ron Paul of Texas, are outspoken in saying they want to see the U.S. Department of Education scrapped.

On Friday, Education Sector is hosting the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at 9am at the Capital Hilton in DC, where he’ll announce a new plan for teacher education reform.

According to Education Week, several high-profile teacher-training and -professional-development groups that recently lost federal set-asides—from Teach For America to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards—will have an opportunity to recapture some of that funding under the terms of a newly unveiled $25 million federal competition.

Education Week lays out a roadmap for winning a state waiver from No Child Left Behind. Although Education Secretary Arne Duncan holds the ultimate power in choosing which states get a waiver and which don’t, a group of outside judges will wield a tremendous amount of influence in deciding states’ fates. And now, the very important peer review guidebook is out from the department, which issues instructions to the judges as they evaluate each state’s waiver plan. This document outlines (almost) exactly what states have to do to win the judges over and get coveted flexibility under NCLB.

On the same subject, Education Week also reports states that can’t meet the initial deadlines for getting their plans together for No Child Left Behind Act waivers can get temporary flexibility to buy them more time. That’s according to department officials who presented an overview of the Obama administration’s plan to grant states flexibility under NCLB. In a webinar for states on Tuesday, officials said that states can request to hold this school year’s proficiency targets steady at last year’s levels.

In a vote of confidence for charter schools it deems “high quality,” the U.S. Department of Education announced grants totaling $25 million to charter school networks they believe have proved successful at raising student achievement, according to HechingerEd.

The Huffington Post writes on an interview with Roy Roberts, a former GM executive who has been emergency manager of Detroit’s public schools for over a month. He compared his new job to have been “like drinking from a fire hose.” “I had five weeks to pull together a budget for 2012,” he said in an interview. “That’s not a simple process.” So far, his tenure has entailed cutting salaries across the board by 10 percent; imposing $81 million in wage concessions; and announcing a new state-run educational authority to oversee Michigan’s lowest-performing schools that will pilot in Detroit next year.

For the second time in less than a decade, Colorado’s rapidly growing online schools may face the scrutiny of state auditors, according to the Denver Post. A legislative committee voted Tuesday to take the first step toward an emergency audit of online schools, despite complaints from Republicans that the Democratic lawmaker seeking the audit was trying bolster his run for Congress.

According to the Associated Press, the city of Chicago plans a rating system for early childhood programs that are city-funded. It’s supposed to start in July 2012, and parents can use it when deciding on programs for their very young children. Mayor Rahm Emanuel says parents will find out how good these programs are because the ratings will be available online. The web portal is expected to be fully operation by July 2012.

A plan to make Idaho the first state to require students to take at least two credits online will officially go before the public for comment next week, according to the Associated Press. The state Board of Education says a 30-day comment period will start next Wednesday on the proposed graduation requirement. The board is then expected to consider final approval of the online education rule in November.

A Republican-led state Senate committee has approved a bill that likely would lead to more charter schools in Michigan, according to the Associated Press. The bill approved Wednesday by a party-line vote next goes to the Senate floor. It’s one of many bills backed by Republicans aimed at increasing choices for students attending public schools.

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