Sen. Murkowski's Education Newsletter for the week of March 12, 2010

The latest Education News you can use in one place.

View as a PDF

Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund Applications Now Open

Nome Elementary

Sen. Murkowski with Josie Burton's 4th Grade Class in Nome, Alaska.

Murkowski with Secretary Duncan

Sen. Murkowski "tells it like it is" to Education Secretary Duncan in Anchorage.

LAM @ Bear Valley Elementary

Sen. Murkowski tells stories with Bear Valley Elementary students in Anchorage.

Galena Interior Learning Academy

Sen. Murkowski with students of Galena Interior Learning Academy

The U.S. Department of Education has announced that the application period is now open for the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3).  The application and supporting information are available at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/innovation/index.html.  Eligible Applicants: Individual school districts and consortiums of non-profit entities and school districts.  Requirements: Applicants' proposals must address one of the following: supporting effective teachers and principals; improving the use of data to accelerate student achievement; complementing the implementation of standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and careers; and turning around persistently low-performing schools.  Preferences: Applicants who address one or more of the following priorities will receive a competitive preference: improving outcomes for young children; expanding students' access to college and preparing them for success in college; addressing the unique needs of students with disabilities and of limited English proficient students; and serving schools in rural areas.  Competitive Preference: Applicants will receive a competitive preference if their project addresses one or more of the following priorities: improving outcomes for young children; expanding students' access to college and preparing them for success in college; addressing the unique needs of students with disabilities and of limited English proficient students; and serving schools in rural areas.  Timelines: Applications will be due in mid-May and grants will be awarded in September. USED's Office of Innovation and Improvement will hold informational workshops in Atlanta, Baltimore, and Denver that will be web-accessible.  See the link above for dates and other information.  Overview: The grants are intended to allow grantees to develop, expand, and replicate innovative practices.  USED will award three types of grants: 1) Development Grants intended to help develop new ideas; 2) Validation Grants intended to validate promising programs and expand them to a regional scale; and 3) Scale Up Grants intended to bring successful program to national scale.  Each kind of application will need to include a different level of evidence of effectiveness.  Development Grants will require a reasonable hypothesis, Validation Grants will require moderate evidence, and Scale Up Grants will require strong evidence and will be aimed at bringing proven programs to national scale.  The Department expects to make Development grants of up to $5 million each; Validation grants of up to $30 million each; Scale Up grants of up to $50 million each.  Once selected to receive a grant, successful applicants will be required to show how they will sustain their program after their grant ends and find a 20% cash or in-kind match from the private sector. To assist recipients in their efforts to find private matches and to serve the larger purpose of creating an innovation community, the Department of Education has launched an online community, the Open Innovation PortalInnovation Fund Webinar: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/innovation/index.html.

USED Invites Grant Applications

The U.S. Department of Education announced that the following grants have been opened for application:


Alaska's Preliminary Title I Allocations by School District

The U.S. Department of Education has released preliminary estimates of Alaska's Title I Part A allocations by school district for Federal Fiscal Year 2010 (School Year 2010-2011).  USED expects to have the final allocations available in May.  The FY10 Preliminary Allocations chart (Alaska FY 2010 Prelim Cong) can be found here. The chart showing Final FY09 and stimulus allocations (Alaska Final FY2009 + ARRA Cong) can be found here

The President's Proposal for Consolidating U.S. Department of Education Programs

As we've discussed education programs and the President's budget request with visiting Alaskans this month I've noted that there may be some confusion about the President's USED budget request for Fiscal Year 2011.  Given that federal budget documents are not often very clear, that's entirely understandable.  I hope the following information will be clearer. 

While the President has proposed to truly eliminate some programs (LEAP, Byrd Honors Scholarships, ECHO, Loan Repayment for Civil Legal Assistance Attorneys, Underground Railroad Program, and B.J. Stupak Olympic Scholarships), most are proposed for consolidation.  The President proposes to consolidate existing programs under the broad categories as described below.  States would then, in most cases, compete for funding for these broad categorical programs.  USED has not thought through how these new frameworks would actually work in practice, but as proposed, it would be up to state departments of education to determine how they structure their applications, and whether or not they would include the activities of any particular program in their applications.  You can find a summary of the Department's proposal at http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget11/summary/edlite-section3a.html#overview for more information. 

Please keep in mind that the President's budget proposal is just that-a proposal.  I am very concerned about this proposal for the following reasons: 1) The Administration has not decided exactly how their proposal would work or how small states with limited grant writing capacity would effectively compete for funds; 2) This proposed framework has not been reviewed or debated by the Senate HELP Committee, which has jurisdiction over how federal education programs are designed.  In general, however, the following provides an outline of the proposal.

1.     College and Career Ready Students (a new name for Title I).  This program would remain formula funded, but states would have to meet certain requirements in order to be eligible, including adopting standards deemed by the department to be rigorous, implementing high quality assessments, define "effective teacher", and link academic achievement and growth of students to their teachers and school leaders.

2.     School Turnaround Grants (a new name for School Improvement Grants).  States and districts would be required to implement "specific, meaningful intervention models" ... and would receive school turnaround funding for this purpose.

3.     Under a new Excellent Instructional Teams program:

  • A new Effective Teachers and Leaders State Grants - formula funded to include these current programs:
    • Ready to Teach
    • Teacher Quality State Grants
  • A new Teacher and Leader Innovation Fund - competitive grants to states to include these current programs:
    • Advanced Credentialing
    • Teacher Incentive Fund
  • A new Teacher and Leader Pathways - competitive grants to states to include these current programs:
    • School Leadership
    • Teach for America
    • Teacher Quality Partnership
    • Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow
    • Transition to Teaching

4.     Under a new, broad category of Effective Teaching and Learning for a Complete Education:

  • Effective Teaching and Learning: Literacy - a new competitive grant to states to include the current:
    • Even Start
    • Literacy through School Libraries
    • National Writing Project
    • Reading is Fundamental
    • Ready-to-Learn Television
    • Striving Readers
  • Effective Teaching and Learning: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics - a new competitive grant to states to include the current:
    • Mathematics and Science Partnerships
  • Effective Teaching and Learning for a Well-Rounded Education - a new competitive grant to states to include the current:
    • Teaching American History
    • Academies for American History and Civics
    • Civic Education
    • Close-Up Fellowships
    • Excellence in Economic Education
    • Foreign Language Assistance
    • Arts in Education
  • National Activities
    • Educational Technology State Grants

5.     A new College Pathways and Accelerated Learning to include the following current programs:

  • Advanced Placement
  • High School Graduation Initiative
  • Javits Gifted and Talented Education

6.     A new Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students to include the following current programs:

  • Alcohol Abuse Reduction
  • Elementary and Secondary School Counseling
  • Foundations for Learning
  • Mental Health Integration in Schools
  • Physical Education
  • Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities National Activities

7.     A new Expanding Educational Options competitive grants to states to include the following current programs:

  • Charter Schools Grants
  • Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities
  • Parental Information and Resource Centers
  • Smaller Learning Communities
  • Voluntary Public School Choice

8.     Continue the following current, formula-funded programs:

  • Assessing Achievement (currently State Assessments) - formula and competitive
  • Magnet Schools Assistance
  • Promise Neighborhoods
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers
  • English Learner Education
  • Impact Aid