Bookmark and Share
Overview

The smallest of all the cabinet-level agencies, the Department of Education (ED) is responsible for supporting the education of American children and adults in schools and colleges across the country. Education is decentralized in the United States, meaning that the task of providing and running schools is left in the hands of state and local officials. The federal government’s role has largely been to provide federal monies to bolster programs that teach children how to read, promote science or help students attend college, among other things.

 

Although it is the smallest of all federal departments, the ED has been the source of controversy since its founding in 1980. Conservatives have blasted the department for decades, claiming it is intrusive and detrimental to the education of children. Liberals, while not always happy with the work of the department, have consistently defended the ED in the face of attempts by Republican administrations to weaken, if not outright disband the department. President George W. Bush used the department to implement a controversial education reform measure, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which has been the source of much criticism and debate. In response, President Barack Obama’s administration implemented a program to grant NCLB waivers to qualifying states, of which there have been more than 30 to date. President Obama and ED also launched Race to the Top, a $4.35 billion competition that awards funds to states whose schools do the most to meet certain federal educational criteria.


more
History:

The federal government’s first Department of Education (ED) was created in 1867—based on legislation signed into law by President Andrew Johnson—as a non-cabinet-level agency charged with collecting information on schools and teaching to help states establish effective school systems. Almost immediately, critics of the new agency emerged, voicing concern that local schools would be subjected to excessive control by the department. Consequently, by the following year, the ED was reduced to a minor office, ultimately buried inside the Department of the Interior. It was operated by four employees on a budget of $15,000.

 

With the passage of the Second Morrill Act in 1890, this small bureau was given the responsibility for administering support for the original system of land-grant colleges and universities. In 1939, it was moved out of the Department of the Interior and placed in the newly established Federal Security Agency (FSA), where its name was changed to the Office of Education.

 

During the World War I and World War II eras, federal education officials became responsible for providing federal aid to vocational education. The 1917 Smith-Hughes Act and the 1946 George-Barden Act focused on agricultural, industrial, and home economics training for high school students. The Lanham Act in 1941 and the Impact Aid laws of 1950 eased the burden on communities affected by the presence of military and other federal installations by making payments to school districts. And in 1944, the GI Bill authorized postsecondary education assistance that would ultimately send nearly 8 million World War II veterans to college.

 

In 1953, the Eisenhower administration abolished the FSA and transferred most of its functions to a newly created cabinet-level agency, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW). The 1950s also saw federal lawmakers adopt the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) in 1958 in response to the Soviet launch of Sputnik. To help ensure that highly trained individuals would be available to help America compete with the Soviet Union in scientific and technical fields, the NDEA included support for loans to college students, the improvement of science, mathematics, and foreign language instruction in elementary and secondary schools, graduate fellowships, foreign language and area studies, and vocational-technical training.

 

As a result of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty campaign and the Civil Rights movement, the Office of Education became responsible for implementing federal legislation to provide equal access for all people to education. This legislation included Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibited discrimination based on race, sex, and disability. In 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) launched a comprehensive set of programs, including the Title I program of federal aid to disadvantaged children to address the problems of poor urban and rural areas. That same year, the Higher Education Act authorized assistance for postsecondary education, including financial aid programs for needy college students. (It would be reauthorized numerous times, most recently in 2008.)

 

In 1974 the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act was signed into law, which gave students access and some control over their educational records. That same year the Equal Educational Opportunities Act was passed, which outlawed racial segregation and discrimination in schools. The following year, Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, establishing a variety of protections in public schools for children with disabilities. It evolved into the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which has been amended multiple times, most recently in 2004. In 1978, the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment was established to protect the rights of pupils and their parents with regard to all programs funded by the ED.

 

In 1979, the Carter administration decided that education was too important for it to be part of HEW and established the cabinet-level ED to bolster its mission of supporting schools and educational systems around the country at the state and local level. It was not long, however, before the ED came under assault by Carter’s successor, President Ronald Reagan.

 

Reagan promised during the 1980 presidential election to eliminate the department as a cabinet post, but Democrats in the House refused to go along. Two years later, Reagan tried again to dismantle the ED by severing all funding, and again, Democrats thwarted the president’s effort. Unable to do away with the department, Reagan decided instead to appoint a Secretary of Education who was philosophically opposed to the agency’s mission. William “Bill” Bennett served as education secretary from 1985 to 1990, through the last years of Reagan and into the administration of George H. W. Bush.

 

Bennett was an outspoken critic of the educational establishment, which he called “the blob” for bloated educational bureaucracy. He advocated for teacher testing, performance-based pay, education accountability, ending tenure, a national exam for all students to take, and school vouchers to allow parents to send their children to private schools.

 

President Bill Clinton’s administration enacted its own educational reforms through the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994, a reauthorization of 1965’s ESEA that addressed such issues as charter schools, impact aid, funding for immigrant and bilingual education, and safe/drug-free schools.

 

In the mid-1990s, after Republicans took control of Congress, the GOP targeted the ED, calling it an intrusion into local, state, and family affairs. During the 1996 presidential campaign, Republican nominee Bob Dole promised to “cut out” the department if elected.

           

When George W. Bush was elected to the White House in 2000, the Republicans did not try to erase the ED from the executive branch. Instead Bush took a page from Bill Bennett and implemented an ambitious and controversial program called No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which utilizes standards-based reforms to measure how students are performing from kindergarten to grade 12. A key part of NCLB requires all public schools to implement standardized tests for all students to take—and if they don’t, they risk losing federal education funding. Overall, NCLB has provoked considerable debate and controversy. Critics have asserted that its testing mandate reduces student learning because of the temptation by teachers to lower achievement goals and “teach to the test.” President Bush, however, insisted NCLB’s testing data will shows which schools are failing to properly educate children and lead to improvements that will level the learning field for all students.

 

In 2007 President Bush signed into law the America COMPETES Act (pdf) (reauthorized in 2010 [pdf] by President Obama), which includes provisions that address goals for student achievements in mathematics, and teacher assistance in STEM fields.

 

In 2009 President Obama and ED launched Race to the Top (pdf), a $4.35 billion competition that awards funds to states whose schools do the most to meet certain federal educational criteria, such as turning around low-achieving schools, creating conditions for successful charter schools, and improving teacher and principal effectiveness.

 

A decade since implementation of NCLB, the law has gotten mixed reviews, with critics decrying an overemphasis on testing that they claim has often proven ineffective and subject to manipulation. In 2010, President Obama proposed a plan to reform the ESEA and the widely unpopular NCLB. In September 2011, his administration implemented a program to grant NCLB waivers to qualifying states, of which there have been more than 30 to date.

 

Also in 2010, President Obama signed into law the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (HCERA) (pdf), a sweeping reform of the student financial aid industry that saves $68 billion over 11 years by cutting out the middleman—lending institutions—from the loan process, thereby eliminating federal subsidies paid to banks and allowing students to get federal loans directly from the government by way of filing applications through their college’s financial aid office. Its other reforms included opening the Pell Grant program to tens of thousands of low-income students and further increasing the amount of the award, which will continue to rise annually beginning in the 2013-2014 academic year. Additionally, the law caps loan repayments at 10% of the borrower’s discretionary income.

 

Since 2010, the ED has hosted an annual Bullying Prevention Summit, a forum for panel discussions to present research, initiatives and strategies for bullying prevention (pdf) at school, home, and online.

 

In December 2011, President Obama signed an Executive Order that called for the creation of an interagency working group—participants from the ED and the Department of the Interior—to work toward the improvement of American Indian and Alaska Native educational opportunities and the strengthening of tribal colleges and universities.

 

Under the Obama administration, the ED has—not without controversy—expanded its regulatory authority in such areas as gainful employment and reduction of student due process rights.

 

Who will benefit from Obama's student loan plan? (by Lucy Madison, CBS News)

more
What it Does:

The Department of Education (ED) supports the teaching of students from kindergarten through postgraduate school by providing funding for dozens of programs. With this funding comes a variety of federal rules and requirements that schools and colleges must meet in order to be eligible. The department’s elementary and secondary programs annually serve more than 14,000 school districts and some 56 million students attending more than 100,000 public schools and 34,000 private schools. Department programs also provide grant, loan, and work-study assistance to nearly 11 million postsecondary students.

 

The ED is charged with promoting student achievement, ensuring equal access to education and prohibiting discrimination. It also focuses national attention on key educational issues, assembles data on the nation’s schools, and disseminates educational research.

 

Key ED Offices:

Educational Levels

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education: The OESE oversees the quality of education received by students in elementary and secondary (high school) schools across the United States. This is done through their nine main programs: Academic Improvement and Teacher Quality Programs; Impact Aid Programs; Office of Indian Education; Office of Migrant Education; School Support and Rural Programs; Office of Early Learning; Office of Safe and Healthy Students; Office of School Turnaround; and School Achievement and School Accountability Programs. Through these programs, the OESE works to improve the quality of teaching and learning within elementary and secondary schools, as well as ensure equal access to services and ensure equal opportunity. An example of one of the OESE’s programs is the Early Childhood Educator Professional Development Program, whose purpose is to enhance the school readiness of young children, particularly those who are disadvantaged. In an effort to prevent these kids from encountering reading difficulties in school, the program seeks to improve the knowledge and skills of educators who work in high-poverty communities.

 

Office of Postsecondary Education: The OPE formulates and administers federal postsecondary education policy and programs. Aimed at creating equity in, and improving the quality of, higher education, the OPE initiatives generally fall into three areas of concentration: policy and planning, minority and disadvantaged students, and accreditation. The office also administers Federal Student Aid programs, grants for institutions serving low-income and minority students, and international education programs including the Fulbright.

 

Office of Vocational and Adult Education: OVAE responsibilities cover adult, post-secondary, rural, and vocational education. Its staff creates, manages and administers policies, programs and grants; commissions studies; and makes recommendations to the Secretary of Education, Congress, the President, and the public on how to bring about potential improvements in the quality of education and educational services. The four general areas encompassed within OVAE are: Adult Education and Literacy; Career and Technical Education; Center for Rural Education; and Community Colleges.

 

Targeted Groups

Office of English Language Acquisition: Known in its entirety as the Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students (OELA), the office replaced the former Office of Bilingual and Minority Language Education. The name change aptly reflects a shift in policy—from an emphasis on bilingual instruction to a more “English only” approach to integrating non- or limited-English-speaking students into the federal school system. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) established new, steep standards for student and school achievement with periodic testing—which, according to critics, combines with the English only approach to marginalize students in need of English instruction. The OELA is responsible for administering programs and activities under Titles III and V of the NCLB Act, including the distribution of $1 billion in federal grant funds to institutions of higher education, state education agencies, districts, schools, and community-based organizations.

 

Office of Indian Education: The OIE administers the Indian Education Program of the NCLB of 2001. Although NCLB does not change the agency’s original 1972 mandate to facilitate greater educational opportunities for American Indians and Alaska Natives, it attempts to provide greater accountability in the use of federal funds. The primary function of the OIE is to design and oversee a comprehensive system for administering Indian formula and discretionary grants; prepare and track performance indicators of grant program’s efficacy and help carry out national evaluations of OIE programs; provide leadership for Department of Education-wide policy coordination and help formulate policy and guidance; and develop and implement a system for maintaining open communications with the National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE) and other educational organizations.

 

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services: The OSERS works to improve the lives of children and adults afflicted by disabilities through research and development grants distributed at both the state and regional levels. The three main components of the OSERS are special education, vocational rehabilitation, and research. Its three offices include the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), which focuses on developing programs for disabled children from birth to age 21; the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), which conducts programs that support people with disabilities; and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), which supervises 28 grant programs that help individuals with physical or mental disabilities find employment and live more independently.

 

Research and Evaluation

Institute of Education Sciences: The IES is the primary research arm of the Department of Education, comprised of four national centers devoted to supporting and disseminating scientific research related to education. IES’s work uses randomized trials in evaluating educational methods. These trials involve the comparison of results between an experimental group, which is taught using the new method under study, and a control group, which is taught using traditional methods. The idea behind the IES is to boost this sort of research while reducing political influence on that research. The four national centers fund, evaluate, and disseminate such research, while the National Board for Education Sciences (NBES) advises the IES director on the agency’s policies, priorities, and procedures. The Institute works with the Office of Innovation and Improvement and the What Works Clearinghouse, which is designed as a resource for educational decision-makers in selecting programs and practices based on scientific research. The IES also evaluates programs and grants for the 2001 NCLB.

 

Office of Innovation and Improvement: The OII was created in order to help manage the spending of money created by the NCLB. In addition, the OII decides how to distribute the funds of its grant programs, ranging from charter schools to dropout prevention, and it coordinates the public school choice and supplemental education services. When distributing these funds, the OII hopes to improve student achievement, increase parental awareness and keep the education system up to date. The OII is also responsible for administering earmarks, which are funds allocated by Congress to be spent on predetermined projects.

 

Other

Federal Student Aid: The FSA provides financial assistance to students pursuing all types of education, from vocational school to post-graduate education. Most students receive assistance in the form of loans direct from the federal government, to be repaid after completion of education. The FSA also has grant programs, with eligibility based on financial need, and work-study programs in which the program pays part of the wages of student workers. Students can apply for any FSA program through the consolidated Free Application for Federal Student Aid available on-line. In FY 2011, the FSA processed 21 million such applications and assisted more than 15 million students.

 

Office of Safe and Healthy Students: Public concern over school safety has increased over recent decades due to fatal shootings and other violent acts. OSHS was created to address school safety concerns that face students. The office administers drug and violence prevention programs for students in elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education and related programs that promote the health and well being of students. Due to budget cuts over the years, various programs have been dropped, including those pertaining to alcohol abuse reduction, mentoring programs, character education, school counseling, mental health integration, and physical and civic education.

 

From the Web Site of the Department of Education

Accreditation Database

Annual Reports

Blog

Budget

Bullying

College Affordability and Completion

Contact Information

Contract Opportunities

Contracts Information

Education Dashboard

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Facts and Figures

FAFSA

Family Policy Compliance Office

FAQs

Fast Facts

Funding

Grant Opportunities

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Initiatives

Inspector General

Jobs

Loan Forgiveness

Media Advisories

Media Archive

Military Families and Veterans

No Child Left Behind Flexibility

NCLB Act

News

Newsletters and Journals

Office for Civil Rights

Organization

Parent and Family Engagement

Pell Grants

Photo Archive

Photos

Policy

Press Release Archive

Press Releases

Program Evaluation

Programs

Publications: How to Order

Race to the Top Fund

Reform

Research

Research and Statistics

Schools Search

Senior Staff

Speech Archive

Speeches

State Contacts

Strategic Plans

Student Aid Programs

Student Loans

Supplemental Services

Teaching

Teaching Jobs

Teaching Resources

Video

White House Initiatives

more
Where Does the Money Go

According to USAspending.gov, the Department of Education (ED) has spent more than $30.2 billion this decade on 125,640 transactions with private contractors. The top five types of products or services purchased by the ED between FY 2003 and FY 2012 were building operations ($8,433,431,549), financial services ($2,861,956,910), debt collection ($2,347,361,046), educational services ($1,430,336,053), and financial support and management ($803,022,060). The top five recipients of ED contracts are:

 

1. Management & Training Corporation                     $2,522,456,343          

2. Xerox Corporation                                                  $2,059,997,333          

3. Accenture Public Limited Company                      $1,086,737,128          

4. Onex ResCare Acquisition LLC                             $1,006,560,156          

5. Westat Inc.                                                                 $836,516,747

 

The ED’s FY 2013 budget request includes spending of $1.77 billion toward salaries and expenses, which includes $367 million in mandatory funding for Not-For-Profit (NFP) and New Perkins Loan Program Servicing costs in the Student Aid Administration. That division is expected to receive $3 million from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for management of the Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program. The ED also expects to spend more than $1.1 billion on student aid administration. In FY 2012, the ED provided $217 billion in grants, loans, and work-study assistance to help students pay for postsecondary education.

FY 2013 Congressional Budget Justification

FY 2013 Budget Tables

more
Controversies:

Senate Takes For-Profit Colleges to Task

For-profit colleges got bad marks two years in a row, first from a congressional committee and then from an academic study.

 

In 2012, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions released a report that claimed few of the 30 for-profit colleges investigated by the committee provided a sound return, as far as education versus student loans.

 

The report said 64% of students at these institutions seeking associate degrees dropped out of school.

 

The schools also were faulted for spending too much money on administrative costs, such as marketing, recruitment, and advertising, and on executive compensation.

 

In 2013, a study by Caroline M. Hoxby at Stanford University and Christopher Avery at Harvard concluded for-profit schools spend much less on instructional cost per student than all other schools.

 

The research revealed for-profit schools also may have higher out-of-pocket costs due to limited financial aid offered to the students who attend them.

For-Profit Colleges Thrashed In Congressional Report (by James Marshall Crotty, Forbes)

For-Profit Colleges Are A Spectacularly Bad Investment (by Max Nisen, Business Insider)

 

A-F Grading System for Schools Called Out in Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s state Board of Education approved a controversial plan in 2011 to assign letter grades to individual schools to demonstrate the quality of their work.

 

Among criteria used in the grading are attendance rates, dropout rates, and state and yearly test scores. About 300 school superintendents came out in opposition to the plan, saying the new system’s grading formula was too strict and expected too much.

 

When the grades were released in 2012, Tulsa schools received more Ds and Fs (45) than As, Bs, and Cs (31), for a D average. Oklahoma City also scored a D average.

 

In 2013, the state Senate approved legislation that would improve and reform the A-F grading system for a more “accurate” representation of how Oklahoma schools are doing.

Oklahoma Board of Education delays release of controversial A-F school grades (by Carrie Coppernoll, Oklahoman)

A through F grades released for Oklahoma schools; Tulsa receives 8 failing grades (KJRH)

Senate approves changes to A-F grading system (Derrick Miller

Duncan Banner)

 

Students Subjected to Restraint and Seclusion

Education experts and parents expressed concern following the release of a government report showing nearly 40,000 students were subject to restraints or seclusion during the 2009-2010 academic year.

 

The study by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) also found that African-American and Hispanic children made up a disproportionally large number of students experiencing restraint or seclusion. A 2009 Government Accountability Office report found that 20 disabled children died because of the practice.

 

The practice of isolating and restraining problematic children originated in schools for children with special needs, before migrating to public schools in the 1970s.

 

In 2012, the ED issued a publication that outlined principles for reducing the use of restraint and seclusion.

 

The 15 principles offered states, districts, and other education leaders ideas for developing appropriate policies related to restraint and seclusion to ensure the safety of adults and children. The list included properly training teachers in the use of restraint or seclusion, not endangering a child’s breathing with restraints, and notifying parents after each instance of restraint or seclusion.

Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document (U.S. Department of Education)

Controversy Over Use of Seclusion and Restraints Grows (Julia Lawrence, Education News)

U.S. Department of Education Issues Resource Document that Discourages Restraint and Seclusion (U.S. Department of Education)

Summary of Seclusion and Restraint Statutes, Regulations, Policies and Guidance, by State and Territory (U.S. Department of Education)

Families Against Restraint and Seclusion

 

Gainful Employment Regulations Taken to Court

The Obama administration in 2011 unveiled new regulations that redefined the term “gainful employment” to better judge the success of higher education in educating students.

 

The regulations created “debt measures” and authorized sanctions against educational programs that failed to “lead to gainful employment in a recognized occupation.”

 

Issued in June 2011 and set to go into effect on July 1, 2012, the new rules applied to virtually all educational programs at for-profit colleges and most non-degree educational programs at public and nonprofit colleges.

 

The regulations did not apply to educational programs that lead to a degree at public or nonprofit colleges.

 

In 2012, it was reported that 5% of vocational programs subject to the ED’s gainful-employment rules failed to meet the regulation’s requirements for them to receive federal student aid. That same year, opponents of the rules took the ED to court.

 

The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) was successful with its lawsuit, as the gainful employment regulations were struck down by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in the summer of 2012.

 

Following the ruling, the ED filed a motion to alter the judgment by the court. The APSCU countered by filing an opposition to the motion to alter. In response, government lawyers filed a reply in support of the motion to alter. 

Department of Education Expands Regulatory Authority in the Uncertain and Controversial Area of Gainful Employment (Jones Day)

193 Vocational Programs Fail 'Gainful Employment' Test (by Michael Stratford, Chronicle of Higher Education)

The Battle Over the Gainful Employment Regulations Continues (by Nicole Daley, Education Industry Reporter)

Current Status of the Gainful Employment Litigation (by Dennis Cariello, Education Industry Reporter)

 

Home-Schooling

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) reported in 2012 that more than one million students in the U.S. were home-schooled, drawing attention to a highly controversial topic in education.

 

Many Christian families who object to the secular curriculum in public schools have been driving the home-school movement in recent. The IES reported that home-schooling was more prevalent among white families than Black or Hispanic ones, with Caucasian families making up about 77% of the total.

 

Advocates have gotten a boost from some prestigious universities, including Harvard, which not only recognized home-schooling as a legitimate alternative to traditional classroom education (despite its costs to parents who home-school), but even lauded its achievements in teaching children.

Home-Schooling Grows More Popular (by Michael Robinson, Philadelphia Tribune)

Home Schooling Should Be Banned (Debatewise)

What Are the Disadvantages of Home Schooling? (All About Parenting)

Ron Paul Rolls Out New Homeschool Curriculum (Freedom Outpost)

 

ED’s State Authorization Requirement Reversed by Court

The APSCU sued the ED over three rules that were amended in 2010, asking the court to strike down regulations relating to incentive compensation for student recruiters, misleading marketing, and state authorization of colleges.

 

On the first two points, the APSCU lost in court.

 

But on the third matter, it won regarding state authorization of colleges rule affecting online programs, which would have compelled colleges to meet state requirements everywhere they enroll at least one student.

 

As a result of the ruling, the ED announced in 2012 it would no longer enforce the requirement that distance education (online) programs obtain permission to operate in every state where at least one student is enrolled.

Mixed Decision on Integrity Rules (by Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed)

Backing Off on State Authorization (by Libby Nelson, Insider Higher Ed)

New State Authorization ‘Dear Colleague’ Letter NOT Focused on Distance Ed (WCET Learn)

 

Stricter Guidelines

The U.S. Department of Education adopted new regulations in 2011 that impacted college students’ ability to access federal financial aid, potentially causing tens of thousands of students to drop out.

 

One change required students to maintain a grade point average of at least 2.0, or else lose eligibility for grants.

 

Another new rule stated students could not take more than 150% of the allotted time to finish their degree. For an undergraduate in a four-year baccalaureate program, that meant completing a degree in no more than six years to remain eligible for financial aid.

 

Yet another new regulation, which went into effect in 2012, required first-time college students to have either a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent (such as a home-school education or a General Educational Development—GED—certificate). Prior to this rule, students could be eligible for federal student aid by passing an approved test or completing at least six credit hours or 225 clock hours of postsecondary education.

New federal financial aid rules hurt colleges, students (by Gloria Padilla, San Antonio Express-News)

Changes afoot in financial aid programs (by Christina Couch, Bankrate.com)

Eligibility of Students Without a High School Diploma (Federal Student Aid)

 

50 Banned Words on NYC School Exams

The New York City Department of Education briefly considered in 2012 the banning of 50 specified words from use on standardized tests by the city’s schools.

 

The list of 50 words included dinosaurs, birthdays, cancer, rap music, rock ’n’ roll, and sex.

 

A department spokesman told the New York Post that the words could “evoke unpleasant emotions in the students.” Critics of the plan said it was political correctness gone wild.

 

The idea did not last long. About a week after the ban was proposed, the department dropped it.

Pens and Pencils Down: New York City's "Banned Words" Controversy (by Dennis Baron, Visual Thesaurus)

Full List of Topics Banned on NYC School Exams (New York Post)

New York City Schools Ban On Words For Standardized Tests Revoked (Education News)

 

Student Tests Used to Rate Teachers’ Effectiveness

Should teachers be judged based on how well their students perform on standardized tests?

 

That question arose during the Obama administration, as states increasingly linked teacher ratings to student test performance.

 

One evaluation, by the Education Commission of the States, reported 30 states required that teacher evaluations include evidence of student achievement on tests. In at least 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, achievement measured by test scores was used for half or more of a teacher’s rating.

 

Proponents of the practice said the new way of judging teachers was necessary, especially when 33% of fourth graders were not reading at grade level and 25% of public high school students failed to graduate on time, or not at all. They argued the new rating systems would help education administrators identify the best and worst teachers.

 

Many instructors, and their union representatives, opposed the idea. They claimed the new evaluations could not begin to reveal what it is like to be in a classroom. Others said relying on scores would turn schools into test-taking factories.

National Schools Debate Is on Display in Chicago (by Motoko Rich, New York Times)

Student scores may be used in LAUSD teacher ratings (by Teresa Watanabe and Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times)

 

Charter School Lotteries

Critics of charter schools have complained about the spectacle of public lotteries at which some families rejoice and others suffer disappointment when the names of children are announced.

 

Supporters of charter schools have been accused of turning lotteries in showcases intended to inflate the perception of the schools’ popularity.

 

“Public lotteries have become a high-octane way to press an expansionist agenda,” the National Education Association (NEA) wrote. “That’s because at the events in the nation’s largest cities, hundreds if not thousands of students are typically vying for a small percentage of classroom spots.”

 

The NEA cited documents from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools that advise its member schools to “publicize their lotteries to demonstrate the strong popularity of charter schools.”

Exploitative Charter School Lotteries Not Required by Law (NEA Today)

“The Lottery” and Charter School Semiotics (Growing Up In America)

 

Office of Civil Rights Assault Standards Opposed

Education groups reacted negatively in 2011 to new sexual harassment standards crafted by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the ED.

 

At least three national organizations worried about one provision governing the amount of evidence that should be required to bring a harassment case forward.

 

In hearings for these cases, schools must adhere to a standard of “preponderance of evidence,” according to the new policy.

 

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) said such a standard was too low. They believe it means authorities will cast too wide a net, including accusations based merely on hearsay.

 

“This is the same standard used in hearings for speeding tickets,” Will Creeley, director of legal and public advocacy for FIRE, said.

 

FIRE also characterized OCR’s new requirements as an intrusion on “universities’ institutional autonomy by telling them how to run their adjudicatory processes in a ‘one size fits all’ model, without regard for the critical differences between institutions or for the familiarity that administrators have with their respective schools.”

 

The American Association of University Women, on the other hand, believes the standard would be an equalizer, helping women who once felt the system was turning a deaf ear to them.

New sexual assault mandate causes national controversy (by Ashley Withers, Daily Campus)

University Lawyers Frustrated by OCR Mandate (by Azhar Majeed, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

 

Student Due Process Controversy

The ED adopted a new policy in 2011 that required colleges and universities to reduce student due-process rights, according to critics. Institutions that didn’t comply would be denied federal funding and would face investigation.

 

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the American Association of University Professors complained that ED’s Office for Civil Rights was wrong to adopt the regulation that mandated colleges receiving federal funding reduce due-process protections for students accused of sexual harassment or misconduct. (See “Office of Civil Rights Assault Standards Opposed” controversy.)

 

Another due-process controversy arose in Florida, where lawmakers introduced a bill to bolster student-athletes’ ability to address and fight claims of cheating.

 

The measure’s sponsors said it would “help combat their predisposition to consider students as guilty until proven innocent, and would establish true due process and rights for student athletes, which the current system clearly lacks.”

 

Opponents insisted the plan would hamper schools’ ability to police students who want to change schools strictly for athletic purposes, which was previously prohibited in Florida.

One Year Later, Silence from Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on Due Process, Free Speech Concerns (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education)

Controversial Head of Dept. of Ed’s Office for Civil Rights Steps Down (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education)

The School-to-Prison Pipeline:  A Civil Rights and a Civil Liberty Issue (by Lorraine Kasprisin, Journal of Educational Controversy)

High school recruiting bills a controversial issue (by Kyle Hightower, Associated Press)

 

High Rate of Student Loan Defaults and Dropouts at For-Profit Schools

Students continued to default on their college loans at an ever-growing rate, according to the ED.

 

The percentage of borrowers who defaulted on their federal student loans two years after having made their first payment increased to 9.1% in fiscal year 2011, up from 8.8% during 2010.

 

For-profit schools had the worst three-year default rates, 22.7%. Public schools came next, with an average three-year default rate of 11%. Private, non-profit institutions saw a 7.5% rate.

 

For-profit colleges were also the subject of bad news in terms of student dropouts. A Senate education committee report revealed 54% of for-profit students dropped out without a degree during the 2008-2009 school year. In some cases, the dropout rate may be linked to the cost of schooling. The study also found that bachelor’s programs at for-profits cost 20% more than at public schools, while associate’s degrees cost four times more.

Student loan default rates jump (by Blake Ellis, CNN Money)

For-Profit Colleges Thrashed In Congressional Report (by James Marshall Crotty, Forbes)

For Profit Higher Education: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student Success (Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee)

Feds: For-profits could lose federal student aid (Associated Press)

Default Rates Rise for Federal Student Loans (U.S. Department of Education)

 

Deceptive Pro-Charter Parent Groups

An effort to transform a Los Angeles public school into a charter school came under attack by a leading teachers’ union claiming some of the parents behind the change didn’t have children in the school.

 

Parent Revolution, a pro-charter school organization, led a signature drive to turn McKinley Elementary School over to Celerity Educational Group, which operated four charter schools in Los Angeles.

 

The NEA, the largest teachers’ union in the U.S., said the campaign was a sham. Some signatures belonged to people with no children at the school, while others said they didn’t understand what they were signing, according to the union.

 

In the end, the Compton school board turned down the petition because the number of valid signatures fell below the 50% threshold required under California’s “parent trigger” law that allows residents to petition for a charter school.

 

That didn’t matter to Los Angeles county education officials—they approved the charter and Celerity opened a kindergarten through fifth grade school in the fall of 2011.

Beware Pro-Charter School “Parent” Groups (by Alain Jehlen, NEA Today)

‘Won’t Back Down’: Parent Trigger Gets the Hollywood Treatment (by Tim Walker, NEA Today)

L.A. County Education Officials OK Compton Charter School (by Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times)

 

Inconsistent Quality of Charter Schools

As the number of charter schools continued to increase in many states, some critics, including charter school advocates, called for states to do a better job of enacting, overseeing and enforcing quality and operational standards for the schools.

 

A 2010 study by Stanford University found that students in only 17% of charter schools were outperforming demographically similar student populations at nearby, traditional neighborhood public schools. In 37% of cases, students at the traditional public schools performed at higher levels, and the remainder of the cases showed no statistically significant difference.

 

To help address the problem, the National Charter School Resource Center and the U.S. ED’s Office of Innovation and Improvement began developing a national database of all charter schools to better understand reasons for charter school successes and failures.

 

Meanwhile, many state governments considered legislation to improve taxpayer-funded charter school performance.

Educators Urge More Oversight of Charter Schools (by Leslie Brody, North Jersey.com)

States Move to Address Lack of Charter Oversight, Accountability (NEA Today)

Study Finds Charter Schools Avoid At-Risk Students (NEA Today)

 

Cyber Charter Schools in Pennsylvania Stir Trouble

Cyber charter schools have become very popular in Pennsylvania, where supporters and their detractors have sparred over the merits of the specialized schools.

 

As estimated by the ED, cyber charter schools, providing lessons to students via computers in their homes, increased their enrollment from 582 in 2001 to 27,779 by 2011—a 4,000% increase.

 

There are now 11 cyber schools operating in Pennsylvania.

 

Executives with the schools say they provide students a good education with more flexibility, allowing them to learn at their own pace while offering courses not available in their home districts.

 

Critics, including school superintendents and officials with traditional public schools, have complained about the cost of the schools and a lack of oversight and accountability.

They also say school districts, which must fund cyber charter schools, are not allowed to know how many hours an individual student spends in cyber class, what their grades are or how they perform on statewide academic tests. In addition, many of the cyber schools are low performing, with 18 under federal investigation over the past five years for such things as overcompensation to executives, corruption, and questionable financial practices.

Controversy swirls about cyber schools (by Terrie Morgan-Besecker, Times Leader)

Taxpayers could save $365 million with charter/cyber school reform bill; Amount could be higher if increased transparency requirements unmask more overfunding (Representative James Roebuck Jr.)

Report: 44 Pa. cyber/charter schools with investigations or problems; Support grows for bill to return $365 million in overpayments (Representative James Roebuck Jr

 

For-Profit College Company Recruited Unqualified Students to Earn More FSA

Education Management Corp. (EDMC), the nation’s second largest for-profit college company, was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011 for violating FSA rules. As it had done so since 2003, the government claimed, approximately $11 billion in FSA money went to the EDMC.

 

The federal government and five states joined two former EDMC employees who claimed the company gave incentives to recruiters for bringing more students into EDMC programs, which was a violation of federal law.

 

The plaintiffs also said the incentive-based approach resulted in many unqualified students being enrolled by the company’s schools.

 

“The depth and breadth of the fraud laid out in the complaint are astonishing,” Harry Litman, a lawyer involved in the case, told The New York Times. “It spans the entire company—from the ground level in over 100 separate institutions up to the most senior management—and accounts for nearly all the revenues the company has realized since 2003.”

 

The EDMC had about 150,000 students in 109 schools nationwide.

Pittsburgh-Based Education Management Squares Off Against Justice Department In Court (by Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

For-Profit Colleges Under Growing Scrutiny (by Nathan Koppel, Wall Street Journal)

Questions Follow Leader of For-Profit Colleges (by Tamar Lewin, New York Times)

For-Profit College Group Sued as U.S. Lays Out Wide Fraud (by Tamar Lewin, New York Times)

 

International College Recruiters

Banned from use for domestic recruitment in the United States, the use of college recruiters has continued by American universities seeking foreign students.

 

Economics and international competition have driven many U.S. higher education institutions to rely on overseas recruiters in an effort to boost enrollment.

 

In 2010, foreign students contributed $20 billion to the American economy through tuition payments and living expenses.

 

U.S. colleges have also used recruiters because of competition from other countries that have attracted more college-age students. While the U.S. still is one of the most popular places in the world for students from other countries to pursue their education, American universities have experienced a decline in foreign student enrollment.

 

Colleges and universities pay a recruiter or agent a commission, based on a percentage of a student’s tuition. The more individuals an agent recruits, the more money they earn. The practice can lead to recruiters signing up any and all, regardless of their potential. In fact, nearly two-thirds of students who use agents are ill prepared for college.

Use of International College Recruiters Remains Controversial (by Harrison Howe, Education Insider)

Illegal in U.S., Paid Agents Overseas Help American Colleges Recruit Students (by Tamar Lewin, New York Times)

Buyer Beware (by Elizabeth Redden, Insider Higher Ed)

 

Social Studies Cause Controversy in Texas

The Texas State Board of Education stirred controversy in 2010 by changing the state's social-studies curriculum standards and potentially affecting not only Texas’ students’ education but that of others as well around the country.

 

Many of the changes had what was described as a conservative spin on American history, which prompted many historians and educators to ask the board to reconsider its plans.

 

The revisions included replacing the word “capitalism” with “free enterprise system,” putting the inaugural address of Confederacy President Jefferson Davis on par with that of Abraham Lincoln, questioning the separation of church and state, and other controversial revisions.

 

Because Texas is one of the largest markets for textbooks in the country, opponents of the changes feared the board’s decision would influence other states to follow suit.

 

In California, a state senator introduced legislation that would ensure that texts adopted there would not contain Texas-inspired changes.

 

Cynthia Dunbar, a Republican board member, set the tone for the meeting when she opened it with an invocation. “I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses,” Dunbar said.

Ignoring Experts' Pleas, Texas Board Approves Controversial Curriculum Standards (by Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education)

Texas school board approves controversial textbook changes (PBS)

Texas State Board of Education Approves Controversial Social Studies Curriculum Changes (by Lois Elfman, Diverse)

Texas Board of Education's Controversial New Curriculum (by Nadra Kareem Nittle, About.com)

Texas Board Of Education To Vote On Controversial Curriculum Changes (by Jeremy Binckes, Huffington Post)

Head of Texas Education Board Committee Wants to Teach ‘Roles of Men and Women in a Traditional Way’ (TFN Insider)

 

For-Profit Schools Take Advantage of GIs

For-profit schools have been criticized for targeting veterans with misleading offers of higher education, only to leave them disappointed and in some cases feeling ripped off.

 

Frontline dedicated one show to how for-profits were aggressively going after GIs, including those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

 

All of the veterans interviewed by Frontline expressed displeasure with their for-profit education. Such schools specifically went after PTSD veterans, claiming their distance-learning programs were ideal for those unable to endure in-class education.

 

Some former Marines told how they couldn’t even remember some of the classes they had signed up for, which wasn’t a concern for the school as long as it received federal subsidies for the students.

 

Pursuing veterans had become a profitable enterprise for these institutions. From 2006 to 2010, the money received in military education benefits by just 20 for-profit companies jumped from $66.6 million to $521.2 million.

Alleged Mistreatment Of Vets By For-Profit Colleges (by James Marshall Crotty, Forbes)

Educating Sergeant Pantzke (Frontline)

Brain-Injured Marines and For-Profit Colleges (by Jean Braucher, Credit Slips)

For-Profit Colleges, Vulnerable G.I.’s (by Hollister Petraeus, New York Times)

How Pricey For-Profit Colleges Target Vets' GI Bill Money (by Adam Weinstein, Mother Jones)

 

International Rankings of U.S. Students Cause Controversy

American 15-year-olds were found to be merely average in terms of reading, math, and science when compared to students in other countries, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

 

The 2009 test, which measured how well students from more than 70 economies were prepared to meet future challenges, revealed the U.S. had made no improvement in reading since 2000, ranking 14th among nations developed countries. In mathematics, American 15-year-olds were below-average performers, ranking 25th. In science, they came in 17th.

 

“The hard truth,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “is that other high-performing nations have passed us by during the last two decades. . . . In a highly competitive knowledge economy, maintaining the educational status quo means America’s students are effectively losing ground.”

 

Some analysts later contended that the results were skewed and that adjusting for oversampling of low-income students, which are disproportionately high in the U.S., should have raised the ratings somewhat.

 

High performers on the PISA test included South Korea, Finland, Singapore, China, and Canada.

International Education Rankings Suggest Reform Can Lift U.S. (Department of Education)

'We're Number Umpteenth!': Debunking the Persistent Myth of Lagging U.S. Schools (by Alfie Kohn, Huffington Post)

The Real Reason America's Schools Stink (by Charles Kenny, Bloomberg)

Skewed PISA Rankings: US Students Actually Gaining On Finland & Korea (by Sarah Butrymowicz, Wired Academic)

 

Conservative Groups Demand Firing of Gay School Czar

Conservatives in 2009 went after an openly gay official in the Obama administration, objecting to his past work and remarks on homosexuality.

 

Kevin Jennings, assistant deputy secretary of education for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (now the Office of Safe and Healthy Students, or OSHS), was previously a teacher and founder of the organization Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, which raises awareness and preaches tolerance for gays in schools.

 

Rightwing media outlets such as WorldNetDaily, The Washington Times, and Fox News published articles attacking Jennings. The conservative group Accuracy in Media called Jennings a pedophile and erroneously accused him of teaching 14-year-old boys the dangerous sexual practice of “fisting” and discussing oral sex with them.

 

Jennings weathered the attacks, but resigned from the ED in 2011 to become president and CEO of the nonprofit national service organization Be the Change.

Accuracy in Media's Smear of Kevin Jennings Backfires (by Terry Krepel, Huffington Post)

Wash. Times continues its relentless campaign against Jennings (by Justin Berrier, Media Matters for America)

Think Again: Kevin Jennings, the Mainstream Media, and Right-Wing Target Practice (by Eric Alterman and Mickey Ehrlich, Center for American Progress)

Critics Assail Obama's 'Safe Schools' Czar, Say He's Wrong Man for the Job (by Maxim Lott, Fox News)

Ex-pupil defends Obama aide over controversial advice in 1988 (by Jessica Yelin, CNN)

Kevin Jennings Leaving Education Department to Head "Be The Change" (by Chris Geidner, Metro Weekly)

Kevin Jennings Takes on Critics (Advocate)

 

College Tuition Cost Increases—Linked to Federal Aid?

With the push by President Barack Obama to increase federal student aid came arguments and studies that claimed such spending helped cause increases in college tuitions.

 

The Wall Street Journal reported that the relationship between increasing aid and soaring prices at nonprofit four-year colleges was not a sure thing, saying studies showed everything from there being no link to a strong causal connection.

 

One new study found that tuition at for-profit schools where students receive federal aid was 75% higher than at comparable for-profit schools whose students don't receive any aid.

 

Andrew Biggs wrote in The Atlantic that economic research suggested that colleges siphoned off a “significant portion of federal education aid rather than lowering costs to students. Simply put, much of federal student aid is corporate welfare for colleges.”

 

Conservative critics like William Bennett, former secretary of education in the administration of President Ronald Reagan, insisted the cost of college tuition would continue to rise as long as FSA programs continued to increase with little or no accountability.

New Course in College Costs (by Josh Mitchell, Wall Street Journal)

The Truth About College Aid: It's Corporate Welfare (by Andrew Biggs, Atlantic)

Why Student Aid Is NOT Driving Up College Costs (by David L. Warren, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities)

How Can It Be? Student Financial Aid Fuels Increase In College Tuition (by Richard Vedder and Andrew Gillen, Center for College Affordability and Productivity)

Stop Subsidizing Soaring College Costs (by William J. Bennett, CNN)

 

Aid Elimination Penalty for Drug Use Causes Controversy

A Democratic lawmaker tried in 2009 to revoke a provision in federal law that prohibits students convicted of drug possession from receiving federal student loans.

 

Representative George Miller (D-California) introduced the provision into the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 that would reverse a 1998 amendment making students convicted of drug possession ineligible to collect federal funding unless they completed a rehab program and passed two unannounced drug tests. Students convicted of selling drugs would continue to be prohibited from receiving financial aid under the amendment.

 

Kris Krane, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said current law represented “an unfair penalty.”

 

“It’s double jeopardy, and it impacts students of color and low income students predominantly,” she told Fox News. “It actually creates more drug abuse, because we know that the best way to prevent drug abuse later on in life is to get a college degree. That opens opportunities for economic advancement later on in life.”

 

Some law enforcement groups opposed the change, saying the current policy deterred students from using drugs. Opposition to the amendment prevented it from remaining in the final bill when the House adopted it.

Drug Offenders To Get Federal Student Aid Under New Bill (by Maxim Lott, Fox News)

Student Drug Policy Reform Dropped From Health Bill (by Jane Teixeira, The California Aggie)

Drug Busts Hit Students Hard (WI Druggies Lose Financial Aid) (by Megan Doughty, Madison.com)

 

Theresa Shaw Controversy

The George W. Bush administration’s head of the FSA office resigned in 2007 following accusations that the FSA had been lax in policing the $85 billion student loan industry.

 

Theresa Shaw’s departure from the FSA was unrelated to reports that lenders had leveraged universities and financial aid officers with favors to win more business, according to officials in the Department of Education.

 

It was also reported that Shaw had received $250,000 in bonuses, which alarmed Democratic lawmakers in Congress.

 

Andrew Cuomo, attorney general of New York State, claimed the Education Department had been “asleep at the switch” in regulating the practices of lenders, prompting him to launch his own investigation.

 

Shaw was appointed in 2002 by Education Secretary Rod Paige after 22 years in industry, mostly at Sallie Mae, the largest student lender.

Federal Student Loan Official Is Resigning (by Jonathan Glater, New York Times)

Audit Report (U.S. Department of Education)

Dems Question $250,000 in Bonuses for Gov Official (by Justin Rood, ABC News)

 

Student Loan Scandals

Student loan officials working in universities and the federal government were caught owning stocks or receiving perks from lenders in a violation of conflict of interest rules.

 

Matteo Fontana, a federal worker who oversaw a student financial aid database, was suspended from his job in the U.S. Department of Education in 2009 after it was learned he owned 10,500 shares of stock in the Education Lending Group, parent company of Student Loan Xpress, which was the eighth-largest provider of student loans.

 

Fontana was the first government official caught up in a probe led by then-New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo focusing on conflicts of interest between lending companies and universities.

 

The Cuomo inquiry discovered revenue-sharing agreements in which lenders paid back schools a fixed percentage of the net value loans steered their way.

 

It was also reported that three major universities—Columbia, University of Texas-Austin, and University of Southern California—suspended their financial aid directors for also owning stock in Education Lending Group during their university tenures.

 

In 2007, Ellen Frishberg, financial aid director at Johns Hopkins University, was found to have accepted more than $130,000 from eight lending industry companies during her tenure.

Fed Suspended In Student Loan Probe (by Phil Hirschkorn, CBS News)

Hopkins Aid Officer Was Paid More by Lenders Than Disclosed (by Amit Paley, Washington Post)

Student Aid Financial Conflicts Draw Scrutiny of New York Official (by Elizabeth Weiss Green, U.S. News & World Report)

 

Arizona’s Segregation of English-Language Learners

Arizona’s controversial English emersion program for students represented de facto segregation, according to critics.

 

Under the English Language Development (ELD) program, students were forced to study English four hours a day, usually in separate classes from English-proficient students. The program was developed in 2007 in response to federal court orders (stemming from a 1992 case, Flores v. Horne, which eventually landed in the Supreme Court) requiring that the state offer an appropriate education to English-language learners (ELLs).

 

Two researchers from UCLA found numerous problems with the program, calling it “A Return to the Mexican Room.”

 

The program, wrote Patricia Gandara and Gary Orfield, was harmful to students’ achievement and social and emotional development, and exacerbated the existing segregation of these students.

 

Furthermore, the ELD was not moving the great majority of these students toward full English proficiency within one year, thus exposing them to “years of this unnecessary segregation and lack of access to the regular curriculum, pushing them further and further behind academically.”

 

“Arizona’s ELL program is a Draconian way to force children to learn English in a year, which is stupid and contrary to research,” Carlos Ovando, an Arizona State University professor and scholar who has co-authored several books on Arizona’s ELL programs, told Cronkite News.

 

Another ASU professor, Laida Restrepo, said: “The state implements these laws for political reasons with very little scientific backing. It gets people elected and it gives the politician brownie points, but it is not rooted in science.”

 

In 2009, the Supreme Court sent the case back to Arizona so that the efficacy of the ELD program could be examined. Tom Horne, the former Arizona public instruction superintendent who implemented the program, contended that it was sent back to the state as a response to Arizona’s recent adoption of a strict illegal-immigration law. In March 2013, a district court found that the four-hour daily immersion program did not violate civil-rights laws.

Segregating Arizona’s English Learners: A Return to the "Mexican Room"? (by Patricia Gandara and Gary Orfield, Teachers College Record)

A Return to the “Mexican Room” (by Patricia Gandara and Gary Orfield, UCLA)

Hearing on Federal ELL Case Gets Under Way in Arizona (by Mary Ann Zehr, Education Week)

Judge Upholds Arizona Program for English-Language Learner Classes (by Anne Ryman, Republic)

Arizona’s English Immersion Program Could Be Unlawful (by Lauren Gambino, Cronkite News)

State-Mandated English Policy Under Fire In Arizona (by Claudio Sanchez, NPR)

 

States Slow to Meet Federal ELL Goals

A report from the U.S. Department of Education released in 2012 revealed that most states were still struggling to meet federal goals for ELLs regarding mathematics and reading.

 

Seventeen states in the 2006-07 school year reported meeting all three academic goals for ELLs, which included progress in learning English, attainment of fluency, and demonstration of proficiency on state content tests in reading and math.

 

But that progress stalled by the 2007-08 school year when just 11 states reported that they met all three targets. In the following year, 2008-09, the number dropped again—to 10 states. Those that met the targets in that year included Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and West Virginia.

States Show Slow Progress With English-Learners (by Lesli A. Maxwell, Education Week)

Study: Most ELLs Are in Districts That Fall Short on Federal Goals (by Lesli A. Maxwell, Education Week)

Schools Fail to Meet Goals for ELL Students (by Julie Wootton, Magic Valley)

National Evaluation of Title III Implementation—Report on State and Local Implementation (American Institutes for Research) (pdf)

Director Violates Ethics Rules

Eric Andell, a former appellate judge in Houston, Texas, got into trouble while heading the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (now the Office of Safe and Healthy Students, or OSHS) during the George W. Bush administration.

 

Andell was charged with billing the government for personal expenses related to 14 trips he took. He also did not disclose to the federal government that he received salary and paid sick leave from the state of Texas as a visiting retired judge.

 

In 2005, Andell pleaded guilty to unlawful conflict of interest. His punishment consisted of one year of unsupervised probations, a $5,000 fine and 100 hours of community service.

 

But he did not lose his law license in Texas, where he continued to practice law.

Former judge Andell gets probation, $5,000 fine (by Michael Hedges, Houston Chronicle)

Attorney Eric Andell of Houston; scofflaw, moron, ethical gremlin (Committee to Expose Dishonest and Incompetent Judges, Attorneys and Public Officials)

 

Government Hires Media Commentator

In an effort to promote the No Child Left Behind program, the George W. Bush administration hired a conservative black commentator, Armstrong Williams, to promote the controversial plan on television and radio. Education Secretary Roderick Paige defended the move, calling it a standard “outreach effort” to minority groups who stood to benefit most from the administration’s showcasing of NCLB.

 

The ED’s inspector general criticized the contract, under which Williams also agreed “to regularly comment on” and promote the law during his syndicated TV show. Williams contended that he did nothing illegal. The $240,000 deal produced one radio ad and one TV ad before the contract was suspended.

Pundit Armstrong Williams settles case over promoting education reforms (by Greg Toppo, USA Today)

Administration Paid Commentator: Education Dept. Used Williams to Promote 'No Child' Law (by Howard Kurtz, Washington Post)

 

ED Overpays Student Loan Lenders

In 2004 the Government Accountability Office warned Education officials that legal loopholes could result in the government paying billions of dollars in unnecessary subsidies to banks that provided loans to college students. The department chose to do nothing about the problem, and even as of 2007, after the inspector general found serious financial mistakes committed by the department, then-Education Secretary Margaret Spellings gave no indication that she would order banks to repay the government.

 

The inspector general concluded that the government had overpaid one lender, Nebraska-based Nelnet, $278 million from 2003 to 2005. The Washington Post conducted its own analysis and determined that potential overpayments to other lenders from 2003 to 2006 could total roughly $300 million. Two lenders, the New Hampshire Higher Education Loan Corp. and the Arkansas Student Loan Authority, said they returned millions of dollars in subsidy payments voluntarily after they discovered errors themselves.

 

Spellings acknowledged that the federal government “had some responsibility” for “confusion” over subsidy rules that helped student loan companies reap hundreds of millions of dollars in potentially excessive payments at taxpayer expense. But she would not seek a full accounting of the cost of what the ED’s inspector general termed “improper” payments in a program that guaranteed lenders a 9.5% interest rate for certain loans even when market rates are much lower. Nor did the department plan to seek reimbursement.

 

In 2010 President Barack Obama and a Democratic-led Congress ended the federal guaranteed student loan program, thereby cutting out banks as the middleman and, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), saving $62 billion by 2010 and providing more funds to go directly to students.

Confusion Cited in Overpayments To Student Lenders (by Amit R. Paley, Washington Post)

 

ED Official Allows Extra Payments to Loan Company

In January 2007, then-Education Under Secretary Sara Martinez Tucker allowed student loan company Nelnet to keep $278 million in overpayments that Department of Education auditors had declared improper. Then it was revealed that Tucker had ties to Nelnet through her years at the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF)—which went from a philanthropic organization to a major fund-raising operation under her leadership.

 

Officials at the Department of Education defended Tucker’s work regarding Nelnet. They also indicated they were unwilling to recover the funds from Nelnet for fear it would force the department to pursue other lenders, which could potentially eliminate some student borrowing options.

Coverage of the Nelnet Settlement (New America Foundation)

 

Upward Bound

In March 2008, the Department of Education halted a controversial study on the “Upward Bound” program that helps prepare first generation and low-income students for college. Begun in 2007, the study was designed to measure whether narrowing the focus to students considered less likely to pursue higher education would make the program more effective. Critics called the study—which required grantees to enroll twice as many students as normal and assign one half to a control group—unethical, even immoral, for recruiting disadvantaged students and then denying them entry for the purpose of determining numbers.

Education Dept. to End Controversial Study of Upward Bound, Chronicle of Higher Education (by Kelly Field, Chronicle of Higher Education)

 

Sallie Mae Uses Freedom of Information Act to Obtain Student Data

In October 2007, student loan giant Sallie Mae filed a New York Freedom of Information Law request (pdf) asking community colleges in the State University of New York (SUNY) system to provide the company with the names, telephone numbers and home mailing and e-mail addresses of “all admitted and enrolled students for academic year 2007-2008.”

 

The request, which came from the company’s Direct Marketing division, also asked the schools to identify the age, graduating class and major of each student listed.

 

Such requests from direct-to-consumer private student loan companies are raising alarms among college financial aid administrators, who worry that the companies are trying to lure their students to take on unnecessarily high levels of debt.

           

After word got out about Sallie Mae’s activities, the company shut down the effort.

Sallie Mae Demands SUNY Colleges Turn Over Students' Personal Data (by Stephen Burd, New America Foundation)

New America in The Chronicle of Higher Education on Sallie Mae (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

 

Are Education Research and Randomized Trials Any Use?

In the wake of the George W. Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind law, educators were instructed by policymakers to rely more on “scientifically based” research. But by the end of the Bush era, officials in education found themselves confronted with a mixed bag of methods and research that often was labeled inconclusive, politically charged or less than useful for classroom teachers.

 

During a meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), critics said education researchers too often focused on topics that didn’t help schools solve practical problems such as how to train teachers, improve skills, and lower dropout rates.

 

“Some good work is getting done, but the balance of influence in AERA is not with people doing rigorous, carefully designed, obviously important research,” Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, told USA Today.

 

Another point of contention revolved around randomized trials and their use in evaluating educational methods.

 

Critics labeled the trials as unethical, saying students in the experimental group were subjected to methods that were not only ineffective but also harmful, while students in the control group were denied the benefits of new and useful methods.

 

Others argued that educational outcomes depended on more factors than could be controlled by a randomized trial, as in medicine, leading to doubts about whether the results were truly “scientific.”

 

Still others criticized the emphasis on randomized trials in the absence of additional funding for schools that agreed to implement them.

Usefulness of Education Research Questioned (by Greg Toppo, USA Today)

Searching for Science to Guide Good Teaching (by Maria Glod, Washington Post)

What can educators learn from the Red Sox? (by Beth Gamse and Judith Singer, Usable Knowledge, Harvard Graduate School of Education) 

What Does Scientifically Based Research Mean for Schools? (by Lesley Dahlkemper, SEDL Letter)

more
Debate:

Should higher education funding be cut?

Debate over funding for higher education has historically fallen along partisan lines, with Democrats advocating more liberal spending and Republicans looking to dismantle federal assistance infrastructure. The rising cost of college tuition, room and board—about 62% (adjusted for inflation) between 2001 and 2011—has stirred the debate over higher education.

 

In recent years, many Department of Education (ED) programs have been cut and lawmakers from both sides have called for increased oversight of spending at the postsecondary level. In February 2008, the House of Representatives passed legislation to renew the Higher Education Act with bipartisan support. With all parties increasingly concerned about the inhibitive costs of higher education, Democrats joined Republicans in supporting a measure (House Bill H.R. 4137) that would pressure institutions to keep a tighter grip on costs and spending. Citing racial bias and disapproval with a diminished secretarial accreditation authority, the George W. Bush administration expressed initial opposition to provisions in the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 (H.R. 4137). President Bush eventually relented and signed it into law.

 

In 2009, President Barack Obama and ED launched Race to the Top, a $4.35 billion competition that awards funds to states whose schools do the most to meet certain federal educational criteria. And in 2010, Obama signed into law the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, a sweeping reform of the student financial aid industry that increased Pell Grant awards and saves $68 billion over 11 years by removing lending institutions from the loan process, thereby freeing up additional funds for student loans.

 

Federal aid advocates decry spending cuts, while libertarian groups like The Heritage Foundation continue to argue that federal spending on higher education fails to help make it affordable, as “colleges and universities just consume this additional revenue.”

 

In early 2013, Senate Democrats and House Republicans offered up competing budget plans that would impact funding for education.

 

The Senate proposal did nothing to alter cuts imposed under the sequestration, meaning they would remain in place for at least the rest of the fiscal year if the House agreed on the spending package. It also did not give agencies greater discretion in applying the cuts, denying the Education Department the ability to designate one program to suffer the brunt of the reductions and instead have to spread them out among various initiatives.

 

In the House, Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican, Budget Committee chairman, and former vice-presidential nominee, introduced a 10-year budget plan that would cap the Pell Grant’s growth at its current level and alter the needs analysis formula for financial aid.

 

House Republicans also called for consolidating job-training programs and then supplanting them with “career scholarships.”

Dueling Plans for Federal Spending (by Libby A. Nelson, Inside Higher Ed)

U.S. Bill Specifies State Higher Ed Spending (by Pauline Vu, Stateline.org)

House, Focusing on Cost, Approves Higher Education Act (by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed)

Senate debates higher education provisions to improve federal programs and expand access to college (by Mike Enzi, U.S. Senate)

 

Pro (yes, downsizing is a good idea):

Critics of federal spending on higher education, largely Republicans and conservatives, have lamented the rising expenditure of funds for Pell Grants and other assistance coming out of Washington.

 

They argue that the more money ED spends to help college students, the more tuition goes up at many universities.

 

Dan Lips at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, wrote: “Quite simply, college tuition is becoming more expensive each year.” He also cited work by Richard Vedder, author of “Going Broke By Degree: Why College Costs Too Much,” which showed increases in federal spending on higher education had contributed to rising tuition costs. 

 

“In other words, federal subsidies are not making higher education more affordable because colleges and universities simply consume this additional source of revenue,” Lips added.

 

Other critics say public colleges and universities must reign in their spending, especially when it comes to employee benefits (particularly retirement and health care), because those increases are the driving force behind tuition increases at many institutions.

The Facts on Federal Education Spending (by Dan Lips, Heritage Foundation)

State Budgeters' View of Higher Ed (by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed)

 

Con (no, spending cuts hurt education):

Officials in higher education have lamented any talk of Washington reducing support for universities and colleges.

 

They point to a 2013 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, saying more students are going to college, but fewer resources are available to help them afford their education, especially for low-income students.

 

At the same time, states have made deep cuts in higher education budgets, making it difficult for colleges to hire full-time staff and faculty—and that can lead to lowering academic quality and graduation rates.

 

Many schools are turning to hiring more adjunct instructors, which are less expensive and now make up the majority of the faculty workforce. The problem with that is adjuncts often have multiple jobs, leaving them with less time to assist students.

From Bad to Worse (by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed)

Higher Education Cuts Risk Damaging State Economies For Years To Come: CBPP Report (by Tyler Kingkade, Huffington Post)

 

Should No Child Left Behind be “left behind”?

Three days into the George W. Bush presidency, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was adopted, becoming a “cornerstone” of the administration.

 

The intent of the law was for all students, regardless of economic status, race, ethnicity, or disability, to attain proficiency in reading, math, and science by 2014.

 

The focus of NCLB is standards, testing, accountability measures, and teacher quality. It requires states to set standards and develop assessments and annual measurable benchmarks, and for districts and schools to implement them.

 

Ten years after its implementation, the law has received mixed reviews, with critics decrying an overemphasis on testing that they claim has often proven ineffective and subject to manipulation.

 

In 2010, President Barack Obama proposed a plan to reform the NCLB program. Pending its reauthorization, the Obama administration’s Department of Education in 2011 invited states to apply for waivers from the law.

 

By 2012, the Obama administration had waived 32 states and Washington D.C. from abiding by NCLB rules.

No Child Left Behind: An analysis of the controversy (by Thomas Imms, New Foundations)

A Guide to the No Child Left Behind Act (by Pamela Karwasinski and Katharine Shek, Center for Public Education)

The good and bad of NCLB (Editorial, Washington Times)

Why No Child Left Behind is a Good Law - And How to Use It (by Pete Wright, Wrightslaw)

No Child Left Behind Worsened Education, 48 Percent Of Americans 'Very Familiar' With The Law Say In Gallup Poll (Huffington Post)

No Child Left Behind Waivers Granted To 33 U.S. States, Some With Strings Attached

(by Joy Resmovits, Huffington Post)

The Controversy: Has NCLB Been Successful or Has It Failed? (Carleton.edu)

 

Pro (keep NCLB):

Supporters of NCLB offer many reasons for why the law should be maintained:

 

  • The law makes sure all children are counted, and that schools are responsible for making sure every child is learning.
  • It provides parents with unprecedented information and new options for their children, which may include free tutoring.
  • Teachers benefit from utilizing assessment data and scientifically based teaching methods to improve classroom instruction.
  • Schools in need of improvement receive extra help and resources to raise student achievement.

 

Supporters point out that student test scores have increased since NCLB took effect in 2002. Furthermore, test scores of minority students have gone up the most during this time.

 

Additionally, the overall achievement gap between minority and white students has decreased between 1999 and 2004.

 

Other achievements under NCLB include:

 

  • Nearly 450,000 eligible students have received free supplemental educational services (tutoring) or public school choice.
  • Regular testing has allowed schools to identify the individual students in need of additional aid to reach grade level proficiency.
  • Results have shown that the nation is still on track to reach the 2014 deadline for universal grade level proficiency in math and reading.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (U.S. Department of Education)

No Child Left Behind Act Is Working (U.S. Department of Education)

Summer 2005 Correspondence (Education Next)

The Student Success Act: Reforming Federal Accountability Requirements Under No Child Left Behind (by Lindsey Burke, Heritage Foundation)

 

Con (do away with NCLB):

Critics of NCLB offer their own list of reasons for why the law has been a mistake:

 

  • The federal government has consistently failed to provide the amount of funding the program requires.
  • Achievement is measured only by a students’ performance on annual multiple-choice reading and math tests.
  • Teachers are increasingly only teaching “to the test” due to widespread fears that their students will perform poorly resulting in their termination.
  • All students are held to the same achievement standard (as dictated by their state) regardless of their ability level, socioeconomic status and native language. The only students not held to the same achievement standards are those with severe physical or mental disabilities.
  • Due to the intense focus on math and reading proficiency, fewer resources and time are devoted to subjects such as art, physical education, social studies, and science.
  • Analysis of the academic reports by organizations who are unaffiliated with the federal board of education have come to mixed conclusions regarding the success of NCLB in raising math and reading achievement.
  • Many education professionals argue that it is impossible to compare data on a nation-wide scale because each state defines and assesses proficiency differently.

 

In addition, critics point to a Gallup poll showing more Americans think NCLB has made education in the U.S. worse rather than better.

 

Twenty-nine percent believe the law has weakened education in America, while only 16% say it has improved things. Another 38% said NCLB hasn’t made much of a difference.

U.S. Senate Testimony about NCLB (by Edward J. McElroy, American Federation of Teachers)

Testing the NCLB: Study shows that NCLB hasn't significantly impacted national achievement scores or narrowed the racial gaps (Civil Rights Project, Harvard)

Problems with NCLB (University of Michigan website)

The Failure of No Child Left Behind (J.D. Stockman, Yahoo! Contributor Network)

A decade of No Child Left Behind: Lessons from a policy failure (by Valerie Strauss, Washington Post)

50 Ways to leave a Child Behind (by Elizabeth Davidson, Randall Reback, Jonah Rockoff and Heather L. Schwartz, Columbia University)

 

Should Common Core State Standards be scrapped?

Common Core, which promotes voluntary national standards in math and reading, came into being in 2009, when the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers announced plans to establish such standards.

 

All but four states—Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia—signed on to the standards and agreed to help implement them by 2014. The movement was aided by President Barack Obama, who decided to link Common Core standards to billions of dollars in federal grants.

 

This decision enraged conservatives, who object to the federal government meddling in state education policy. Other critics of the standards insist they will do little to help children learn and will cost some states billions.

State Costs for Adopting and Implementing the Common Core State Standards (by Lindsey Burke, Heritage Foundation)

Common Core Wars – The Stakes Keep Getting Higher (BC Culture)

 

Pro (scrap them):

In a report from the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings, it was argued that Common Core State Standards will do little to impact student learning. The study noted that states have had curricular standards for schools for many years, and that the data on the effects of these standards showed that the quality of state standards is not related to state achievement and the rigor of state standards is also unrelated to achievement.

 

Other critics expressed fear that Common Core is really not about helping students receive a better education, but lining the pockets of testing companies that contract with state education departments to provide standardized tests.

How Well are American Students Learning (Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings)

Common Core Standards Drive Wedge In Education Circles (by Greg Toppo, USA Today)

 

Con (keep them):

Supporters of Common Core say the standards will provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.

 

They add that the standards will be designed to be “robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.”

 

This, in turn, will help the nation as future generations will become better prepared to compete in the global economy.

 

Furthermore, supporters dispute the notion that adopting common standards will bring all states’ standards down to the lowest common denominator.

Common Core State Standards Initiative

Myths About Content and Quality: General (Common Core State Standards Initiative)

 

 

Should the Department of Education be abolished?

Created during the Carter administration, the ED is responsible for administering billions of dollars in federal aid, including grants to college students and public schools serving low-income and special needs children, collecting statistics from school districts and enforcing federal education laws. Despite performing numerous functions, Republican politicians have regularly criticized the ED, going so far as to call for its abolition.

 

In fact, during every presidential election from 1980 to 2000, the GOP included language in the party’s plank stating: “The federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in school curricula or to control jobs in the market place. This is why we will abolish the Department of Education.”

 

The political bashing continued during the 2012 campaign, with one Republican candidate after another attacking the agency.

 

Democrats have just as consistently defended the ED, calling it a vital part of the federal government.

Abolish the Education Department? Abandoned Idea Gets New Life (Fox News)

Abolish the Department of Education? (by Ann Kane and M. Catharine Evans, American Thinker)

What Would Happen if Dept. of Education Were Closed? (by Morgan Smith, Texas Tribune)

 

Con (ED should not be abolished):

Supporters of the ED insist the elimination of the agency would be catastrophic for children of all ages and backgrounds in the U.S.

 

Federal education funding is vital, they say, for students from poor families. These monies make up a relatively small portion of the total funding for public schools, but they do provide important help for at-risk kids.

 

Proponents also say the department has really helped focus schools and educators on all children, regardless of their needs or proficiencies.

 

Eliminating the agency would force school officials at the state and local level to choose from downsizing, reassigning or eliminating many programs that rely on funding from Washington.

What happens if Rand Paul, allies, abolish the U.S. Dept. of Education? (by Halimah Abdullah, Bluegrass Politics)

Call to abolish Dept. of Education dismally misguided (Mountain Democrat)

 

Pro (ED should be dismantled):

Republican arguments for dismantling the ED have centered around one point: Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution, they say, does it authorize the federal government to be involved in schools.

 

“There’s not a hint in the Constitution that we ought to have it,” Representative Roscoe G. Bartlett, a Maryland Republican and a member of the House’s Tea Party Caucus, said.

 

Bartlett and others also claim that having a federal office dedicated to education has done nothing to help students or teachers.

 

Republicans would prefer that local school boards, teachers, and parents make the important decisions about how kids are educated, not Washington.

‘Tea party’ hopefuls target Education Department (by Joseph Weber, Washington Times)

Michele Bachmann Suggests Axing The Department Of Education (Huffington Post)

more
Suggested Reforms:

Reforms for the ESEA

Experts from the left and the right came together in 2012 to jointly offer up a series of reforms to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), reauthorized in 2001 as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), but first established during the Great Society efforts of the 1960s.

 

The American Enterprise Institute and Center for American Progress collaborated in an effort to raise the public profile of what they said were many very important but often overlooked Title I provisions apart from those involving accountability for student achievement—that is, the financial assistance sections dealing with allocations of funds.

 

Their plan was not to delve into fundamental questions about the federal role in public education or the broader aspects of reforming the ESEA.

 

Instead, the two organizations focused on “requirements that are often regarded as obscure, technical, or otherwise unglamorous,” the report stated.

 

“And while it is certainly true that No Child Left Behind’s accountability system gets the lion’s share of the attention, we would argue that these seemingly mundane provisions may well prove more significant when it comes to what goes on in America’s schools and school systems day-to-day,” the report added.

Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Offers a New Chance to Improve Education (by Raegen T. Miller, Frederick M. Hess and Cynthia G. Brown, American Enterprise Institute and Center for American Progress) (pdf)

 

Waiver Program to Reform NCLB

The Obama administration announced in 2011 that it would provide waivers to states seeking relief from the NCLB law.

 

But the U.S. Department of Education (ED) insisted only states willing to embrace education reform would receive the waivers.

 

The administration sought changes in NCLB that called for college- and career-ready standards, more great teachers and principals, robust use of data, and a more flexible and targeted accountability system based on measuring annual student growth.

 

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said NCLB had forced “[school] districts into one-size-fits-all solutions that just don’t work. The President understands this and he has directed us to move ahead in providing relief—but only for states and districts that are prepared to address our educational challenges.”

 

As of 2013, only two states seeking waivers—California and Iowa—had been turned down by the administration because their teacher evaluations plans were rejected.

Obama Administration Proceeds with Reform of No Child Left Behind Following Congressional Inaction (U.S. Department of Education)

26 More States and D.C. Seek Flexibility from NCLB to Drive Education Reforms in Second Round of Requests (U.S. Department of Education)

The Unfinished Work of Education Reform (U.S. Department of Education)

NCLB Waivers: A State-by-State Breakdown (Education Week)

 

Put Banks Back in Charge of Student Aid

Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) proposed while campaigning as Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012 to make several reforms to Federal Student Aid (FSA), including a rollback of changes under President Barack Obama that cut banks out of the student loan process.

 

Prior to the passage of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), federally backed student loans were administered through a public-private partnership in which the federal government subsidized and guaranteed student loans provided by private lenders.

 

This system allowed banks to receive taxpayer money as an incentive to keep interest rates low. The government also guaranteed that it would pay back up to 97% of the loan principal if the borrowers defaulted, which cut out virtually all risk for banks.

 

“That proved an inefficient way to provide loans, but a great way to prop up banks and waste a bunch of money,” Tim Price wrote for Salon.

 

If Ryan and Romney had had their way, the government would have returned to this system so banks could again profit from student loan lending.

 

Ryan also advocated for changes to the Pell Grant program. The Republican congressman wanted students who qualify for just the minimum award amount, part-time students and those enrolled in summer classes to be ineligible for Pell grants.

Ryan, GOP’s Likely VP Nominee, Plans To Reform Federal Student Aid (by James Toliver, Jambar.com)

GOP’s Newest Attack On Student Loans (by Tim Price, Salon)

 

Reauthorization of Perkins Act

The Obama administration in 2012 announced a plan for reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, which aimed to increase the quality of technical education by providing federal funding.

 

Contained in the report, “Investing in America’s Future: A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education,” the plan focused making numerous educational reforms, primarily pertaining to two-year colleges and technical education programs.

 

One reform sought to create more competition in distributing Perkins funding within states.

 

A second reform called for common participation and performance indicators to allow for the evaluation and assessment of programs “in a standard and clear way,” according to the ED, in the hopes of ensuring program improvements.

 

A third reform introduced performance-based funding to “reward local consortia that demonstrate success in improving student outcomes and closing equity gaps,” the department stated.

Secretary of Education Unveils Blueprint to Reform Nation’s Vocational Education System (by James Swift, Youth Today)

Investing in America’s Future A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education (U.S. Department of Education)

OVAE Connection May 24, 2012 (U.S. Department of Education)

Career Clusters™ Institute Recap: Perkins Reauthorization Blueprint Discussion of State-Level Implications (CTE)

Perkins Legislation (Schargel Consulting Group)

S. 3295 (112th): Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013 (Govtrack.us)

 

Obama’s Reforms for ESEA

President Barack Obama unveiled in 2010 a sweeping overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), reauthorized in 2001 as No Child Left Behind, which intended to change how schools were judged on their performance.

 

Many of Obama’s reforms, coming with the reauthorization of the ESEA, consisted of suggestions offered by critics of the law, including those from teachers’ unions, associations of principals, school boards, and other groups.

 

The Obama administration insisted it was committed to shrinking the achievement gap between minority and white students and encouraging teacher quality.

 

One significant change involved federal financing formulas. The reform would have altered how a portion of federal money was awarded based on academic progress, instead of relying on formulas that apportion money to districts according to their numbers of students, especially poor students.

 

Another revision would eliminate the 2014 deadline requiring that all American students reach academic proficiency.

ESEA Reauthorization: A Blueprint for Reform (U.S. Department of Education)

A Blueprint for Reform (U.S. Department of Education)

Obama to Seek Sweeping Change in ‘No Child’ Law (by Sam Dillon, New York Times)

Senate Education Panel Approves ESEA Overhaul (by Alyson Klein, Education Week)

Starting From Scratch With ESEA (by Marshall Smith, Education Week)

 

Obama’s 2012 Plans for Reform of Financial Student Aid

President Barack Obama proposed in 2012 to make several reforms impacting federal student aid for those in college.

 

During his State of the Union address, Obama talked of reforms that would shift aid away from colleges that fail to keep tuition costs down, and toward those colleges and universities that work to keep tuition affordable, provide good value, and serve needy students.

 

Later in the year Obama called for increasing the Pell Grant cap, doubling the number of work-study positions available, and making other changes to federal student-loan programs.

 

Under Obama’s budget plan, the federal Pell Grant limit would increase from $5,550 to $5,635, with an additional 110,000 work-study jobs over five years.

 

The president’s proposal also sought to cap the federal Stafford Loan interest rate at 3.4% for one more year (interest rates were set to jump to 6.8% in July 2012).

 

Furthermore, funding for Perkins Loans would also increase from $1 billion to $8.5 billion under the president’s plan.

FACT SHEET: President Obama’s Blueprint for Keeping College Affordable and Within Reach for All Americans (White House)

Higher Ed Experts Applaud Obama's Student Aid Proposals (by Chastity Dillard, Daily Iowan)

Obama Speeds Up Aid for College Students: How Will It Help You? (by Huma Khan, ABC News)

 

NIEA Reform Suggestions

The National Indian Education Association (NIEA) called in 2011 for changes to the federal Office of Indian Education (OIE), arguing the OIE should be elevated within the U.S. Department of Education.

 

In a briefing paper presented at the NIEA’s annual legislative summit, the advocacy organization noted the OIE at various times since its creation had been downsized, and even placed under the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. This resulted in the role of the OIE’s director being limited primarily to grant management.

 

The NIEA added that the director lacked authority to “meaningfully participate in Department policy discussions and decision-making, to manage much needed collaboration and alignment between offices within [the department] and other federal agencies, such as Department of the Interior, and to ensure coordinated and efficient expenditures on Indian education.”

 

Given these concerns, the organization said the OIE should be elevated within the Education Department and that its top official should not be a director, but an assistant secretary of Indian education reporting directly to the Office of the Secretary of Education.

Restoring the Trust in Native Education (NIEA Legislative Summit)

Indian Tribal Leaders Give ED Input on Needs of Urban Indian Students (by Joe Barison, Homeroom)

more
Former Directors:

Margaret Spellings (January 20, 2005 - January 20, 2009)

Roderick Paige (January 20, 2001 - January 20, 2005)

Richard Riley (January 21, 1993 - January 20, 2001)

Lamar Alexander (March 22, 1991 - January 20, 1993)

Lauro Cavazos (September 20, 1988 - December 12, 1990)

William J. Bennett (February 6, 1985 - 1988)

Terrel Bell (January 22, 1981 - January 20, 1985)

Shirley Hufstedler (November 30, 1979 - January 20, 1981)

more

Comments

Kenneth James Stevens 5 months ago
IAM A STUDENT TRYING HARD FOR MY G.E.D ACTION LITERACY HAVE THESE BOGUSS CLASSES THAT KEEPING UP PURE MESS FROM ADMINISTRATORS ON UP!MY KENNETH STEVENS AGE 62 LIVE AT PEACHTREE AND PINES SHELTER 477 PEACHTREE AND PINES.SOME CALL DRUGS USERS ALL AROUND THE GIANT BULDING HERE AND MANY OTHER THING THEY DO,MANY COME GO COME BACK.GETTING OVER ON THE SYSTEM. MANY ARE NOT CITIZEN SIR! OR MA! HELP!,HELP!HELP,!
Scott Moschette 8 months ago
The fafsa web site is not working right I been trying to get it done but it will not go to the next page this needs to to be looked at.
eva brown 9 months ago
So I have a problem with the loan forgiveness program. I have been teaching for 18 years, received a student loan prior to 1998 (took time off to have and raise a family) returned to teaching always in Title 1 schools but yet I am not eligible for forgiveness because the loan(s) were prior to 1998. THAT IS SO UNFAIR, when someone recently out of school (served 5 years in a title school) can have the majority of their loans forgiven. I feel if you are going to have such a program EVERYONE should be eligible for forgiveness! I have many younger friends who are student loan free because of this program, yet I am still paying! Furthermore, many of those people have left the profession shortly after getting the loans taken care of. Unlike the true, devoted teachers who stays in their profession. I would like to follow-up and see how this law can be changed so everyone can benefit. PLEASE GUIDE ME IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION!! I want the same opportunity as the people who enter the profession after 1998 has.
JILL 10 months ago
I am in the process of closing on a home. I needed documentation from NELNET stating that under the graduated payment plan how much monthly payment would be. They told I had to quit school so I did. I had the registrars office fax over a letter. It seems that no one has any souls at Nelnet. I explained my situation over and over. I will literally be homeless within the next week, I have to be out of my current home by July 24. I have quit my last year of my Masters Program. All I needed was a letter stating how much my student load would be if I began paying. I agreed to begin the repayment process and they still would not help me. When I say that my life is about to be ruined this is not an exaggeration. My hopes of the American Dream and gaining an education are single handedly being ruined because I need to pay my student loan? It almost doesn't sound real but this is what is happening right now. PLEASE HELP ME, PLEASE. Desperately In Need, Jill Hodkivitz 312-560-3456
Juan Carlos Sanchez 4 years ago
My name is Juan Carlos Sánchez, I have been a Language teacher for 24 years and a Master’s Degree teacher for 4 years in Torreón, Coahuila and Gomez Palacio Durango, Mexico. My nationality is Spanish and Mexican. I have taught 7th, 8th and 9th grade; University Bachelor Degree; and University Master’s Degree students. I am looking for an opportunity to work in Universities and Schools in Unites States. I don´t have a permisson o visa to work in USA. How can I get one to offer my services? I believe this schools can use my Spanish, English and Education abilities. Thank you for your time and consideration, Juan Carlos Sanchez
david tsuneishi 4 years ago
The Office/bureau of Education was part of the department of interior 1867 to 1939 when the Federal Security Agency of was established which included the office of education, the social security board, civilian conservation corps and other agencies.

Leave a comment

Founded: 1980
Annual Budget: $69.8 billion (FY 2013 Request)
Employees: 4,279 (FY 2013 Request)
Official Website: http://www.ed.gov

Department of Education

DeVos, Betsy
Secretary

For the first time in U.S. history, the vice president of the United States cast a tie-breaking vote in the U.S. Senate to confirm the president’s nomination for a Cabinet post.

 

In a highly contentious and ultimately historic confirmation battle, the Senate—with the help of Vice President Mike Pence—fulfilled President Donald Trump’s desire to fill the Education Secretary position with a billionaire heiress with no training or experience in education who advocates privatizing the public school system despite having never attended public schools nor allowing her children to do so. On February 7, 2017, Betsy Prince DeVos was confirmed as Trump’s choice for secretary of education.

 

Senators heard from many thousands of Americans, including educators, teachers unions and even charter organizations, who opposed the nomination, but it wasn’t quite enough. Two Republican defections and an all-night vigil filled with speeches by outraged Democrats brought the tally to a 50-50 split, which was one vote short in preventing Pence from tilting the tie in favor of DeVos’s confirmation.

 

Elisabeth Prince was born on January 8, 1958, in Holland, Michigan, to Elsa (Zwiep) Prince and Edgar Prince, a businessman who founded Prince Corporation, an automobile parts supplier based in Holland, Michigan. He sold the business in 1996 for $1.35 billion. Edgar Prince also founded, with Gary Bauer, the Family Research Council , which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group for its advocacy against gays and other sexual minorities.

 

DeVos’ younger brother, Erik Prince, founded Blackwater USA, a private military firm that lost its US-created license to operate in Iraq after a series of incidents, including a 2007 shooting in which Blackwater mercenaries killed seventeen Iraqi civilians.

 

Betsy DeVos graduated Holland Christian High School in 1975. In 1979, she earned a B.A. in the economics group at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a small, fundamentalist Christian school where, as recently as 2011, a biology professor was forced out after affirming a belief in evolution. At Calvin, DeVos was “involved with campus politics,” according to a puff piece in Philanthropy magazine. 

 

In 1979, Betsy married Dick DeVos, son and heir of Richard DeVos, the founder of multilevel-marketing company Amway. The younger DeVos ran Amway’s parent company, Alticor, from 1993 to 2002, and was the defeated 2006 Republican nominee for governor of Michigan.

 

Although it is not clear whether Betsy DeVos has ever had a normal job, she is on the Board of the Windquest Group, a private equity firm she and her husband founded that invests in technology, manufacturing, and energy.

 

Mostly, Betsy DeVos has spent her adult life as a political activist for conservative candidates and causes. Since 1982, she has been a large and active donor to the Republican Party, serving as a Republican national committeewoman for Michigan from 1992 to 1997, as chairwoman of the state party from 1996 to 2000, and 2003 to 2005, and as finance chairman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. DeVos raised more than $150,000 for the 2004 Bush re-election campaign, and in October 2008 hosted a GOP fundraiser at her home that was headlined by President George W. Bush.

 

But Betsy DeVos is best known for advocating “school choice” schemes like charter schools and tuitions vouchers that would gradually privatize public schools and allow them to be more religiously oriented. Charter schools, which can be public or private, are run outside the usual school district bureaucracy, while tuition vouchers use tax dollars to pay private, often religious, school tuition.

 

DeVos has been called “the four-star general of the pro-voucher movement,” and she once compared her work in education reform to a biblical battleground where she wants to “advance God’s Kingdom.”

 

Although Michigan voters in 2000 rejected a tuition voucher proposal backed by DeVos and her family to the tune of more than $5.7 million, she responded by taking her crusade to a national battlefield. Through several front organizations, including the American Federation for Children, the American Education Reform Council, the Alliance for School Choice, All Children Matter, and the Great Lakes Education Project, she helped to bankroll several pro-voucher or pro-charter school efforts around the country that managed to succeed.

 

DeVos’s greatest successes have come with charter schools. In 1994, she and her family were crucial supporters of a measure that allowed numerous state entities in Michigan to issue charters to schools that could then get tax dollars. As a result, Michigan today has a large number of charter schools, and also the most lax oversight. In fact, in 2011 DeVos’ Great Lakes Education Project lobbied for a law that further deregulated Michigan’s charter schools. The result was a flood of new for-profit management companies, so that about 80 percent of Michigan charter schools are run by for-profits, much higher than anywhere else in the country.

 

But all that profit-making is leaving children behind, especially in Detroit, where more students are in charter schools than traditional ones. By 2015, a federal review of Michigan charter schools found an “unreasonably high” number of them were among the worst-performing 5% of public schools statewide. In June 2016, a withering exposé by Kate Zernike in The New York Times concluded that the almost total lack of state oversight had created a system with “lots of choice, with no good choice.”

 

But when the Republican-controlled state senate voted to require charters to meet the same sort of minimal requirements as public schools, the DeVos family fought back with a lobbying effort so intense legislators complained about it. Five days after the Michigan State Senate reversed its vote, the DeVoses began doling out $1,450,000 to GOP lawmakers over a seven-week period.

 

Betsy DeVos has also been involved in supporting the arts. DeVos was appointed by President George W. Bush to the board of directors of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2004, serving until 2010. During that time, she and her husband provided funding to create the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland, which teaches arts managers and boards how to fundraise and manage their institutions. Since 2009, she has sponsored ArtPrize, an international art competition held in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

 

Betsy and Dick DeVos have two daughters and two sons: Rick, Elissa, Andrea and Ryan. They own a yacht, as well as mansions in Grand Rapids, Ada, and Holland, Michigan; and Vero Beach, Florida. The compound in Ada generated a bit of controversy when the Detroit News reported that the couple had tried to avoid paying property taxes—which go to public schools—on it by claiming it was their “100% principal” residence, which it was not. 

-Matt Bewig

 

How Trump’s Education Nominee Bent Detroit to Her Will on Charter Schools (by Kate Zernike, New York Times)

Trump taps Betsy DeVos, school choice leader, for education secretary (by Todd Spangler and Lori Higgins, Detroit Free Press)

Trump picks Betsy DeVos for education secretary post (by Chad Livengood, Jonathan Oosting and Michael Gerstein, Detroit News)

Betsy DeVos and her big-giving relatives: Family qualifies as GOP royalty (by Jack Noland and Anna Massoglia, OpenSecrets)

Trump's Billionaire Education Secretary Has Been Trying to Gut Public Schools for Years: Meet Betsy DeVos, the anti-union, pro-voucher surprise nominee (by Kristina Rizga, Mother Jones).

Michigan spends $1B on charter schools but fails to hold them accountable (by Jennifer Dixon, Detroit Free Press) 

more
King, John B.
Previous Secretary

John B. King Jr., who was brought into the Department of Education as an adviser to fill the role of Deputy Secretary, has been named by President Barack Obama to be acting Secretary of Education upon the departure in late 2015 of Arne Duncan.

 

King was born in Brooklyn in 1975. His commitment to education comes naturally; both his parents were educators. His father was the first African-American principal in Brooklyn. His mother, Adalinda, was born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York as a child. She was a guidance counselor who met King’s father when she was taking a graduate class from him.

 

King’s parents died when he was young. His mother died at age 48 of a heart attack when King was 8 and his father shortly thereafter began to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. King was running the household until he was 12, when his father died at age 79. He was first sent to live with a half-brother, which didn’t work out, and then enrolled at the Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, boarding school. He was kicked out from there, but found stability living in New Jersey with his father’s brother (who had been an officer in the Tuskegee Airmen) and his family.

 

King went to Harvard, earning a BA in government and an MA in the teaching of social studies at Columbia University Teachers College. He has subsequently earned a JD from Yale Law School, and a Doctor of Education degree in educational administrative practice from Columbia.

 

He taught school, first in Puerto Rico, then in Boston for three years. In 1999, King helped found the Roxbury Prep charter school in one of Boston’s poorer neighborhoods, designing the curriculum and structure of the school. After five years, he took his concept to New York, where he helped found Uncommon Schools, a network of charter schools putting into practice the techniques he used at Roxbury Prep. The organization now oversees schools in New York City, Troy, Upstate New York, New Jersey, and Boston.

 

King has said his idea of an ideal school is one with a rigorous curriculum, excellent teachers, a longer school day and a longer school year.  He also wants a focus on data to give teachers a picture of how their students are performing.

 

King began to be noticed as an innovator in the world of public education. In 2009, he was made senior deputy education commissioner for the state of New York. The following year, he was courted by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to become superintendent of the troubled Newark, New Jersey, school system, to which Zuckerberg was making a $100 million donation. Then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat, and Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were also part of the effort to turn around Newark’s schools within five years. King declined the offer, believing it would take longer than five years and that politics might get in the way of the plan.

 

Instead, King took over as New York’s education commissioner in 2011. He ran into trouble when he instituted Common Core learning standards at the same time he put in place teacher evaluations. He ran into pushback from the teachers’ union, which pointed out that it was unfair to evaluate teachers when they were still grappling with a new curriculum.

 

King’s biggest triumph as education commissioner was obtaining $700 million in Race to the Top grants for New York’s schools from the federal government. The grants were awarded for promoting charter schools, changing the way teacher evaluations were done, overhauling teacher preparation programs, and committing to shared learning standards.

 

King was brought to Washington in early 2015 as a senior adviser delegated the duties of the job of Deputy Secretary of Education under Duncan. The title enabled King to avoid the process of being confirmed by the Senate, which has been increasingly difficult since the Republicans assumed control. There he oversaw preschool-through-12th-grade education policies, programs and strategic initiatives, and department operations.

 

His elevation to the top spot in the Education Department was being handled in much the same manner. Since Republicans had dragged their feet in approving even the most routine nominations until recently, Obama sidestepped the process when he could. After Duncan steps down at the end of the year, King will serve as secretary in an acting role.

 

King’s wife, Melissa Steel King, is a senior research scientist at the Center for Human Services Research at the State University of New York, Albany. They have two daughters, Amina and Mareya.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Charter Founder Is Named Education Commissioner (by Sharon Otterman, New York Times)

Education: The Difference Between Hope and Despair (by John King, Huffington Post)

The Real Story: Why Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 Million Gift to Newark Schools Was Announced on Oprah’s Show (by Valerie Strauss, Washington Post)

more
Bookmark and Share
Overview

The smallest of all the cabinet-level agencies, the Department of Education (ED) is responsible for supporting the education of American children and adults in schools and colleges across the country. Education is decentralized in the United States, meaning that the task of providing and running schools is left in the hands of state and local officials. The federal government’s role has largely been to provide federal monies to bolster programs that teach children how to read, promote science or help students attend college, among other things.

 

Although it is the smallest of all federal departments, the ED has been the source of controversy since its founding in 1980. Conservatives have blasted the department for decades, claiming it is intrusive and detrimental to the education of children. Liberals, while not always happy with the work of the department, have consistently defended the ED in the face of attempts by Republican administrations to weaken, if not outright disband the department. President George W. Bush used the department to implement a controversial education reform measure, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which has been the source of much criticism and debate. In response, President Barack Obama’s administration implemented a program to grant NCLB waivers to qualifying states, of which there have been more than 30 to date. President Obama and ED also launched Race to the Top, a $4.35 billion competition that awards funds to states whose schools do the most to meet certain federal educational criteria.


more
History:

The federal government’s first Department of Education (ED) was created in 1867—based on legislation signed into law by President Andrew Johnson—as a non-cabinet-level agency charged with collecting information on schools and teaching to help states establish effective school systems. Almost immediately, critics of the new agency emerged, voicing concern that local schools would be subjected to excessive control by the department. Consequently, by the following year, the ED was reduced to a minor office, ultimately buried inside the Department of the Interior. It was operated by four employees on a budget of $15,000.

 

With the passage of the Second Morrill Act in 1890, this small bureau was given the responsibility for administering support for the original system of land-grant colleges and universities. In 1939, it was moved out of the Department of the Interior and placed in the newly established Federal Security Agency (FSA), where its name was changed to the Office of Education.

 

During the World War I and World War II eras, federal education officials became responsible for providing federal aid to vocational education. The 1917 Smith-Hughes Act and the 1946 George-Barden Act focused on agricultural, industrial, and home economics training for high school students. The Lanham Act in 1941 and the Impact Aid laws of 1950 eased the burden on communities affected by the presence of military and other federal installations by making payments to school districts. And in 1944, the GI Bill authorized postsecondary education assistance that would ultimately send nearly 8 million World War II veterans to college.

 

In 1953, the Eisenhower administration abolished the FSA and transferred most of its functions to a newly created cabinet-level agency, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW). The 1950s also saw federal lawmakers adopt the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) in 1958 in response to the Soviet launch of Sputnik. To help ensure that highly trained individuals would be available to help America compete with the Soviet Union in scientific and technical fields, the NDEA included support for loans to college students, the improvement of science, mathematics, and foreign language instruction in elementary and secondary schools, graduate fellowships, foreign language and area studies, and vocational-technical training.

 

As a result of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty campaign and the Civil Rights movement, the Office of Education became responsible for implementing federal legislation to provide equal access for all people to education. This legislation included Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibited discrimination based on race, sex, and disability. In 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) launched a comprehensive set of programs, including the Title I program of federal aid to disadvantaged children to address the problems of poor urban and rural areas. That same year, the Higher Education Act authorized assistance for postsecondary education, including financial aid programs for needy college students. (It would be reauthorized numerous times, most recently in 2008.)

 

In 1974 the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act was signed into law, which gave students access and some control over their educational records. That same year the Equal Educational Opportunities Act was passed, which outlawed racial segregation and discrimination in schools. The following year, Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, establishing a variety of protections in public schools for children with disabilities. It evolved into the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which has been amended multiple times, most recently in 2004. In 1978, the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment was established to protect the rights of pupils and their parents with regard to all programs funded by the ED.

 

In 1979, the Carter administration decided that education was too important for it to be part of HEW and established the cabinet-level ED to bolster its mission of supporting schools and educational systems around the country at the state and local level. It was not long, however, before the ED came under assault by Carter’s successor, President Ronald Reagan.

 

Reagan promised during the 1980 presidential election to eliminate the department as a cabinet post, but Democrats in the House refused to go along. Two years later, Reagan tried again to dismantle the ED by severing all funding, and again, Democrats thwarted the president’s effort. Unable to do away with the department, Reagan decided instead to appoint a Secretary of Education who was philosophically opposed to the agency’s mission. William “Bill” Bennett served as education secretary from 1985 to 1990, through the last years of Reagan and into the administration of George H. W. Bush.

 

Bennett was an outspoken critic of the educational establishment, which he called “the blob” for bloated educational bureaucracy. He advocated for teacher testing, performance-based pay, education accountability, ending tenure, a national exam for all students to take, and school vouchers to allow parents to send their children to private schools.

 

President Bill Clinton’s administration enacted its own educational reforms through the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994, a reauthorization of 1965’s ESEA that addressed such issues as charter schools, impact aid, funding for immigrant and bilingual education, and safe/drug-free schools.

 

In the mid-1990s, after Republicans took control of Congress, the GOP targeted the ED, calling it an intrusion into local, state, and family affairs. During the 1996 presidential campaign, Republican nominee Bob Dole promised to “cut out” the department if elected.

           

When George W. Bush was elected to the White House in 2000, the Republicans did not try to erase the ED from the executive branch. Instead Bush took a page from Bill Bennett and implemented an ambitious and controversial program called No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which utilizes standards-based reforms to measure how students are performing from kindergarten to grade 12. A key part of NCLB requires all public schools to implement standardized tests for all students to take—and if they don’t, they risk losing federal education funding. Overall, NCLB has provoked considerable debate and controversy. Critics have asserted that its testing mandate reduces student learning because of the temptation by teachers to lower achievement goals and “teach to the test.” President Bush, however, insisted NCLB’s testing data will shows which schools are failing to properly educate children and lead to improvements that will level the learning field for all students.

 

In 2007 President Bush signed into law the America COMPETES Act (pdf) (reauthorized in 2010 [pdf] by President Obama), which includes provisions that address goals for student achievements in mathematics, and teacher assistance in STEM fields.

 

In 2009 President Obama and ED launched Race to the Top (pdf), a $4.35 billion competition that awards funds to states whose schools do the most to meet certain federal educational criteria, such as turning around low-achieving schools, creating conditions for successful charter schools, and improving teacher and principal effectiveness.

 

A decade since implementation of NCLB, the law has gotten mixed reviews, with critics decrying an overemphasis on testing that they claim has often proven ineffective and subject to manipulation. In 2010, President Obama proposed a plan to reform the ESEA and the widely unpopular NCLB. In September 2011, his administration implemented a program to grant NCLB waivers to qualifying states, of which there have been more than 30 to date.

 

Also in 2010, President Obama signed into law the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (HCERA) (pdf), a sweeping reform of the student financial aid industry that saves $68 billion over 11 years by cutting out the middleman—lending institutions—from the loan process, thereby eliminating federal subsidies paid to banks and allowing students to get federal loans directly from the government by way of filing applications through their college’s financial aid office. Its other reforms included opening the Pell Grant program to tens of thousands of low-income students and further increasing the amount of the award, which will continue to rise annually beginning in the 2013-2014 academic year. Additionally, the law caps loan repayments at 10% of the borrower’s discretionary income.

 

Since 2010, the ED has hosted an annual Bullying Prevention Summit, a forum for panel discussions to present research, initiatives and strategies for bullying prevention (pdf) at school, home, and online.

 

In December 2011, President Obama signed an Executive Order that called for the creation of an interagency working group—participants from the ED and the Department of the Interior—to work toward the improvement of American Indian and Alaska Native educational opportunities and the strengthening of tribal colleges and universities.

 

Under the Obama administration, the ED has—not without controversy—expanded its regulatory authority in such areas as gainful employment and reduction of student due process rights.

 

Who will benefit from Obama's student loan plan? (by Lucy Madison, CBS News)

more
What it Does:

The Department of Education (ED) supports the teaching of students from kindergarten through postgraduate school by providing funding for dozens of programs. With this funding comes a variety of federal rules and requirements that schools and colleges must meet in order to be eligible. The department’s elementary and secondary programs annually serve more than 14,000 school districts and some 56 million students attending more than 100,000 public schools and 34,000 private schools. Department programs also provide grant, loan, and work-study assistance to nearly 11 million postsecondary students.

 

The ED is charged with promoting student achievement, ensuring equal access to education and prohibiting discrimination. It also focuses national attention on key educational issues, assembles data on the nation’s schools, and disseminates educational research.

 

Key ED Offices:

Educational Levels

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education: The OESE oversees the quality of education received by students in elementary and secondary (high school) schools across the United States. This is done through their nine main programs: Academic Improvement and Teacher Quality Programs; Impact Aid Programs; Office of Indian Education; Office of Migrant Education; School Support and Rural Programs; Office of Early Learning; Office of Safe and Healthy Students; Office of School Turnaround; and School Achievement and School Accountability Programs. Through these programs, the OESE works to improve the quality of teaching and learning within elementary and secondary schools, as well as ensure equal access to services and ensure equal opportunity. An example of one of the OESE’s programs is the Early Childhood Educator Professional Development Program, whose purpose is to enhance the school readiness of young children, particularly those who are disadvantaged. In an effort to prevent these kids from encountering reading difficulties in school, the program seeks to improve the knowledge and skills of educators who work in high-poverty communities.

 

Office of Postsecondary Education: The OPE formulates and administers federal postsecondary education policy and programs. Aimed at creating equity in, and improving the quality of, higher education, the OPE initiatives generally fall into three areas of concentration: policy and planning, minority and disadvantaged students, and accreditation. The office also administers Federal Student Aid programs, grants for institutions serving low-income and minority students, and international education programs including the Fulbright.

 

Office of Vocational and Adult Education: OVAE responsibilities cover adult, post-secondary, rural, and vocational education. Its staff creates, manages and administers policies, programs and grants; commissions studies; and makes recommendations to the Secretary of Education, Congress, the President, and the public on how to bring about potential improvements in the quality of education and educational services. The four general areas encompassed within OVAE are: Adult Education and Literacy; Career and Technical Education; Center for Rural Education; and Community Colleges.

 

Targeted Groups

Office of English Language Acquisition: Known in its entirety as the Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students (OELA), the office replaced the former Office of Bilingual and Minority Language Education. The name change aptly reflects a shift in policy—from an emphasis on bilingual instruction to a more “English only” approach to integrating non- or limited-English-speaking students into the federal school system. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) established new, steep standards for student and school achievement with periodic testing—which, according to critics, combines with the English only approach to marginalize students in need of English instruction. The OELA is responsible for administering programs and activities under Titles III and V of the NCLB Act, including the distribution of $1 billion in federal grant funds to institutions of higher education, state education agencies, districts, schools, and community-based organizations.

 

Office of Indian Education: The OIE administers the Indian Education Program of the NCLB of 2001. Although NCLB does not change the agency’s original 1972 mandate to facilitate greater educational opportunities for American Indians and Alaska Natives, it attempts to provide greater accountability in the use of federal funds. The primary function of the OIE is to design and oversee a comprehensive system for administering Indian formula and discretionary grants; prepare and track performance indicators of grant program’s efficacy and help carry out national evaluations of OIE programs; provide leadership for Department of Education-wide policy coordination and help formulate policy and guidance; and develop and implement a system for maintaining open communications with the National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE) and other educational organizations.

 

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services: The OSERS works to improve the lives of children and adults afflicted by disabilities through research and development grants distributed at both the state and regional levels. The three main components of the OSERS are special education, vocational rehabilitation, and research. Its three offices include the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), which focuses on developing programs for disabled children from birth to age 21; the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), which conducts programs that support people with disabilities; and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), which supervises 28 grant programs that help individuals with physical or mental disabilities find employment and live more independently.

 

Research and Evaluation

Institute of Education Sciences: The IES is the primary research arm of the Department of Education, comprised of four national centers devoted to supporting and disseminating scientific research related to education. IES’s work uses randomized trials in evaluating educational methods. These trials involve the comparison of results between an experimental group, which is taught using the new method under study, and a control group, which is taught using traditional methods. The idea behind the IES is to boost this sort of research while reducing political influence on that research. The four national centers fund, evaluate, and disseminate such research, while the National Board for Education Sciences (NBES) advises the IES director on the agency’s policies, priorities, and procedures. The Institute works with the Office of Innovation and Improvement and the What Works Clearinghouse, which is designed as a resource for educational decision-makers in selecting programs and practices based on scientific research. The IES also evaluates programs and grants for the 2001 NCLB.

 

Office of Innovation and Improvement: The OII was created in order to help manage the spending of money created by the NCLB. In addition, the OII decides how to distribute the funds of its grant programs, ranging from charter schools to dropout prevention, and it coordinates the public school choice and supplemental education services. When distributing these funds, the OII hopes to improve student achievement, increase parental awareness and keep the education system up to date. The OII is also responsible for administering earmarks, which are funds allocated by Congress to be spent on predetermined projects.

 

Other

Federal Student Aid: The FSA provides financial assistance to students pursuing all types of education, from vocational school to post-graduate education. Most students receive assistance in the form of loans direct from the federal government, to be repaid after completion of education. The FSA also has grant programs, with eligibility based on financial need, and work-study programs in which the program pays part of the wages of student workers. Students can apply for any FSA program through the consolidated Free Application for Federal Student Aid available on-line. In FY 2011, the FSA processed 21 million such applications and assisted more than 15 million students.

 

Office of Safe and Healthy Students: Public concern over school safety has increased over recent decades due to fatal shootings and other violent acts. OSHS was created to address school safety concerns that face students. The office administers drug and violence prevention programs for students in elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education and related programs that promote the health and well being of students. Due to budget cuts over the years, various programs have been dropped, including those pertaining to alcohol abuse reduction, mentoring programs, character education, school counseling, mental health integration, and physical and civic education.

 

From the Web Site of the Department of Education

Accreditation Database

Annual Reports

Blog

Budget

Bullying

College Affordability and Completion

Contact Information

Contract Opportunities

Contracts Information

Education Dashboard

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Facts and Figures

FAFSA

Family Policy Compliance Office

FAQs

Fast Facts

Funding

Grant Opportunities

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Initiatives

Inspector General

Jobs

Loan Forgiveness

Media Advisories

Media Archive

Military Families and Veterans

No Child Left Behind Flexibility

NCLB Act

News

Newsletters and Journals

Office for Civil Rights

Organization

Parent and Family Engagement

Pell Grants

Photo Archive

Photos

Policy

Press Release Archive

Press Releases

Program Evaluation

Programs

Publications: How to Order

Race to the Top Fund

Reform

Research

Research and Statistics

Schools Search

Senior Staff

Speech Archive

Speeches

State Contacts

Strategic Plans

Student Aid Programs

Student Loans

Supplemental Services

Teaching

Teaching Jobs

Teaching Resources

Video

White House Initiatives

more
Where Does the Money Go

According to USAspending.gov, the Department of Education (ED) has spent more than $30.2 billion this decade on 125,640 transactions with private contractors. The top five types of products or services purchased by the ED between FY 2003 and FY 2012 were building operations ($8,433,431,549), financial services ($2,861,956,910), debt collection ($2,347,361,046), educational services ($1,430,336,053), and financial support and management ($803,022,060). The top five recipients of ED contracts are:

 

1. Management & Training Corporation                     $2,522,456,343          

2. Xerox Corporation                                                  $2,059,997,333          

3. Accenture Public Limited Company                      $1,086,737,128          

4. Onex ResCare Acquisition LLC                             $1,006,560,156          

5. Westat Inc.                                                                 $836,516,747

 

The ED’s FY 2013 budget request includes spending of $1.77 billion toward salaries and expenses, which includes $367 million in mandatory funding for Not-For-Profit (NFP) and New Perkins Loan Program Servicing costs in the Student Aid Administration. That division is expected to receive $3 million from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for management of the Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program. The ED also expects to spend more than $1.1 billion on student aid administration. In FY 2012, the ED provided $217 billion in grants, loans, and work-study assistance to help students pay for postsecondary education.

FY 2013 Congressional Budget Justification

FY 2013 Budget Tables

more
Controversies:

Senate Takes For-Profit Colleges to Task

For-profit colleges got bad marks two years in a row, first from a congressional committee and then from an academic study.

 

In 2012, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions released a report that claimed few of the 30 for-profit colleges investigated by the committee provided a sound return, as far as education versus student loans.

 

The report said 64% of students at these institutions seeking associate degrees dropped out of school.

 

The schools also were faulted for spending too much money on administrative costs, such as marketing, recruitment, and advertising, and on executive compensation.

 

In 2013, a study by Caroline M. Hoxby at Stanford University and Christopher Avery at Harvard concluded for-profit schools spend much less on instructional cost per student than all other schools.

 

The research revealed for-profit schools also may have higher out-of-pocket costs due to limited financial aid offered to the students who attend them.

For-Profit Colleges Thrashed In Congressional Report (by James Marshall Crotty, Forbes)

For-Profit Colleges Are A Spectacularly Bad Investment (by Max Nisen, Business Insider)

 

A-F Grading System for Schools Called Out in Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s state Board of Education approved a controversial plan in 2011 to assign letter grades to individual schools to demonstrate the quality of their work.

 

Among criteria used in the grading are attendance rates, dropout rates, and state and yearly test scores. About 300 school superintendents came out in opposition to the plan, saying the new system’s grading formula was too strict and expected too much.

 

When the grades were released in 2012, Tulsa schools received more Ds and Fs (45) than As, Bs, and Cs (31), for a D average. Oklahoma City also scored a D average.

 

In 2013, the state Senate approved legislation that would improve and reform the A-F grading system for a more “accurate” representation of how Oklahoma schools are doing.

Oklahoma Board of Education delays release of controversial A-F school grades (by Carrie Coppernoll, Oklahoman)

A through F grades released for Oklahoma schools; Tulsa receives 8 failing grades (KJRH)

Senate approves changes to A-F grading system (Derrick Miller

Duncan Banner)

 

Students Subjected to Restraint and Seclusion

Education experts and parents expressed concern following the release of a government report showing nearly 40,000 students were subject to restraints or seclusion during the 2009-2010 academic year.

 

The study by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) also found that African-American and Hispanic children made up a disproportionally large number of students experiencing restraint or seclusion. A 2009 Government Accountability Office report found that 20 disabled children died because of the practice.

 

The practice of isolating and restraining problematic children originated in schools for children with special needs, before migrating to public schools in the 1970s.

 

In 2012, the ED issued a publication that outlined principles for reducing the use of restraint and seclusion.

 

The 15 principles offered states, districts, and other education leaders ideas for developing appropriate policies related to restraint and seclusion to ensure the safety of adults and children. The list included properly training teachers in the use of restraint or seclusion, not endangering a child’s breathing with restraints, and notifying parents after each instance of restraint or seclusion.

Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document (U.S. Department of Education)

Controversy Over Use of Seclusion and Restraints Grows (Julia Lawrence, Education News)

U.S. Department of Education Issues Resource Document that Discourages Restraint and Seclusion (U.S. Department of Education)

Summary of Seclusion and Restraint Statutes, Regulations, Policies and Guidance, by State and Territory (U.S. Department of Education)

Families Against Restraint and Seclusion

 

Gainful Employment Regulations Taken to Court

The Obama administration in 2011 unveiled new regulations that redefined the term “gainful employment” to better judge the success of higher education in educating students.

 

The regulations created “debt measures” and authorized sanctions against educational programs that failed to “lead to gainful employment in a recognized occupation.”

 

Issued in June 2011 and set to go into effect on July 1, 2012, the new rules applied to virtually all educational programs at for-profit colleges and most non-degree educational programs at public and nonprofit colleges.

 

The regulations did not apply to educational programs that lead to a degree at public or nonprofit colleges.

 

In 2012, it was reported that 5% of vocational programs subject to the ED’s gainful-employment rules failed to meet the regulation’s requirements for them to receive federal student aid. That same year, opponents of the rules took the ED to court.

 

The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) was successful with its lawsuit, as the gainful employment regulations were struck down by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in the summer of 2012.

 

Following the ruling, the ED filed a motion to alter the judgment by the court. The APSCU countered by filing an opposition to the motion to alter. In response, government lawyers filed a reply in support of the motion to alter. 

Department of Education Expands Regulatory Authority in the Uncertain and Controversial Area of Gainful Employment (Jones Day)

193 Vocational Programs Fail 'Gainful Employment' Test (by Michael Stratford, Chronicle of Higher Education)

The Battle Over the Gainful Employment Regulations Continues (by Nicole Daley, Education Industry Reporter)

Current Status of the Gainful Employment Litigation (by Dennis Cariello, Education Industry Reporter)

 

Home-Schooling

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) reported in 2012 that more than one million students in the U.S. were home-schooled, drawing attention to a highly controversial topic in education.

 

Many Christian families who object to the secular curriculum in public schools have been driving the home-school movement in recent. The IES reported that home-schooling was more prevalent among white families than Black or Hispanic ones, with Caucasian families making up about 77% of the total.

 

Advocates have gotten a boost from some prestigious universities, including Harvard, which not only recognized home-schooling as a legitimate alternative to traditional classroom education (despite its costs to parents who home-school), but even lauded its achievements in teaching children.

Home-Schooling Grows More Popular (by Michael Robinson, Philadelphia Tribune)

Home Schooling Should Be Banned (Debatewise)

What Are the Disadvantages of Home Schooling? (All About Parenting)

Ron Paul Rolls Out New Homeschool Curriculum (Freedom Outpost)

 

ED’s State Authorization Requirement Reversed by Court

The APSCU sued the ED over three rules that were amended in 2010, asking the court to strike down regulations relating to incentive compensation for student recruiters, misleading marketing, and state authorization of colleges.

 

On the first two points, the APSCU lost in court.

 

But on the third matter, it won regarding state authorization of colleges rule affecting online programs, which would have compelled colleges to meet state requirements everywhere they enroll at least one student.

 

As a result of the ruling, the ED announced in 2012 it would no longer enforce the requirement that distance education (online) programs obtain permission to operate in every state where at least one student is enrolled.

Mixed Decision on Integrity Rules (by Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed)

Backing Off on State Authorization (by Libby Nelson, Insider Higher Ed)

New State Authorization ‘Dear Colleague’ Letter NOT Focused on Distance Ed (WCET Learn)

 

Stricter Guidelines

The U.S. Department of Education adopted new regulations in 2011 that impacted college students’ ability to access federal financial aid, potentially causing tens of thousands of students to drop out.

 

One change required students to maintain a grade point average of at least 2.0, or else lose eligibility for grants.

 

Another new rule stated students could not take more than 150% of the allotted time to finish their degree. For an undergraduate in a four-year baccalaureate program, that meant completing a degree in no more than six years to remain eligible for financial aid.

 

Yet another new regulation, which went into effect in 2012, required first-time college students to have either a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent (such as a home-school education or a General Educational Development—GED—certificate). Prior to this rule, students could be eligible for federal student aid by passing an approved test or completing at least six credit hours or 225 clock hours of postsecondary education.

New federal financial aid rules hurt colleges, students (by Gloria Padilla, San Antonio Express-News)

Changes afoot in financial aid programs (by Christina Couch, Bankrate.com)

Eligibility of Students Without a High School Diploma (Federal Student Aid)

 

50 Banned Words on NYC School Exams

The New York City Department of Education briefly considered in 2012 the banning of 50 specified words from use on standardized tests by the city’s schools.

 

The list of 50 words included dinosaurs, birthdays, cancer, rap music, rock ’n’ roll, and sex.

 

A department spokesman told the New York Post that the words could “evoke unpleasant emotions in the students.” Critics of the plan said it was political correctness gone wild.

 

The idea did not last long. About a week after the ban was proposed, the department dropped it.

Pens and Pencils Down: New York City's "Banned Words" Controversy (by Dennis Baron, Visual Thesaurus)

Full List of Topics Banned on NYC School Exams (New York Post)

New York City Schools Ban On Words For Standardized Tests Revoked (Education News)

 

Student Tests Used to Rate Teachers’ Effectiveness

Should teachers be judged based on how well their students perform on standardized tests?

 

That question arose during the Obama administration, as states increasingly linked teacher ratings to student test performance.

 

One evaluation, by the Education Commission of the States, reported 30 states required that teacher evaluations include evidence of student achievement on tests. In at least 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, achievement measured by test scores was used for half or more of a teacher’s rating.

 

Proponents of the practice said the new way of judging teachers was necessary, especially when 33% of fourth graders were not reading at grade level and 25% of public high school students failed to graduate on time, or not at all. They argued the new rating systems would help education administrators identify the best and worst teachers.

 

Many instructors, and their union representatives, opposed the idea. They claimed the new evaluations could not begin to reveal what it is like to be in a classroom. Others said relying on scores would turn schools into test-taking factories.

National Schools Debate Is on Display in Chicago (by Motoko Rich, New York Times)

Student scores may be used in LAUSD teacher ratings (by Teresa Watanabe and Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times)

 

Charter School Lotteries

Critics of charter schools have complained about the spectacle of public lotteries at which some families rejoice and others suffer disappointment when the names of children are announced.

 

Supporters of charter schools have been accused of turning lotteries in showcases intended to inflate the perception of the schools’ popularity.

 

“Public lotteries have become a high-octane way to press an expansionist agenda,” the National Education Association (NEA) wrote. “That’s because at the events in the nation’s largest cities, hundreds if not thousands of students are typically vying for a small percentage of classroom spots.”

 

The NEA cited documents from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools that advise its member schools to “publicize their lotteries to demonstrate the strong popularity of charter schools.”

Exploitative Charter School Lotteries Not Required by Law (NEA Today)

“The Lottery” and Charter School Semiotics (Growing Up In America)

 

Office of Civil Rights Assault Standards Opposed

Education groups reacted negatively in 2011 to new sexual harassment standards crafted by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the ED.

 

At least three national organizations worried about one provision governing the amount of evidence that should be required to bring a harassment case forward.

 

In hearings for these cases, schools must adhere to a standard of “preponderance of evidence,” according to the new policy.

 

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) said such a standard was too low. They believe it means authorities will cast too wide a net, including accusations based merely on hearsay.

 

“This is the same standard used in hearings for speeding tickets,” Will Creeley, director of legal and public advocacy for FIRE, said.

 

FIRE also characterized OCR’s new requirements as an intrusion on “universities’ institutional autonomy by telling them how to run their adjudicatory processes in a ‘one size fits all’ model, without regard for the critical differences between institutions or for the familiarity that administrators have with their respective schools.”

 

The American Association of University Women, on the other hand, believes the standard would be an equalizer, helping women who once felt the system was turning a deaf ear to them.

New sexual assault mandate causes national controversy (by Ashley Withers, Daily Campus)

University Lawyers Frustrated by OCR Mandate (by Azhar Majeed, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education

 

Student Due Process Controversy

The ED adopted a new policy in 2011 that required colleges and universities to reduce student due-process rights, according to critics. Institutions that didn’t comply would be denied federal funding and would face investigation.

 

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the American Association of University Professors complained that ED’s Office for Civil Rights was wrong to adopt the regulation that mandated colleges receiving federal funding reduce due-process protections for students accused of sexual harassment or misconduct. (See “Office of Civil Rights Assault Standards Opposed” controversy.)

 

Another due-process controversy arose in Florida, where lawmakers introduced a bill to bolster student-athletes’ ability to address and fight claims of cheating.

 

The measure’s sponsors said it would “help combat their predisposition to consider students as guilty until proven innocent, and would establish true due process and rights for student athletes, which the current system clearly lacks.”

 

Opponents insisted the plan would hamper schools’ ability to police students who want to change schools strictly for athletic purposes, which was previously prohibited in Florida.

One Year Later, Silence from Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on Due Process, Free Speech Concerns (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education)

Controversial Head of Dept. of Ed’s Office for Civil Rights Steps Down (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education)

The School-to-Prison Pipeline:  A Civil Rights and a Civil Liberty Issue (by Lorraine Kasprisin, Journal of Educational Controversy)

High school recruiting bills a controversial issue (by Kyle Hightower, Associated Press)

 

High Rate of Student Loan Defaults and Dropouts at For-Profit Schools

Students continued to default on their college loans at an ever-growing rate, according to the ED.

 

The percentage of borrowers who defaulted on their federal student loans two years after having made their first payment increased to 9.1% in fiscal year 2011, up from 8.8% during 2010.

 

For-profit schools had the worst three-year default rates, 22.7%. Public schools came next, with an average three-year default rate of 11%. Private, non-profit institutions saw a 7.5% rate.

 

For-profit colleges were also the subject of bad news in terms of student dropouts. A Senate education committee report revealed 54% of for-profit students dropped out without a degree during the 2008-2009 school year. In some cases, the dropout rate may be linked to the cost of schooling. The study also found that bachelor’s programs at for-profits cost 20% more than at public schools, while associate’s degrees cost four times more.

Student loan default rates jump (by Blake Ellis, CNN Money)

For-Profit Colleges Thrashed In Congressional Report (by James Marshall Crotty, Forbes)

For Profit Higher Education: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student Success (Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee)

Feds: For-profits could lose federal student aid (Associated Press)

Default Rates Rise for Federal Student Loans (U.S. Department of Education)

 

Deceptive Pro-Charter Parent Groups

An effort to transform a Los Angeles public school into a charter school came under attack by a leading teachers’ union claiming some of the parents behind the change didn’t have children in the school.

 

Parent Revolution, a pro-charter school organization, led a signature drive to turn McKinley Elementary School over to Celerity Educational Group, which operated four charter schools in Los Angeles.

 

The NEA, the largest teachers’ union in the U.S., said the campaign was a sham. Some signatures belonged to people with no children at the school, while others said they didn’t understand what they were signing, according to the union.

 

In the end, the Compton school board turned down the petition because the number of valid signatures fell below the 50% threshold required under California’s “parent trigger” law that allows residents to petition for a charter school.

 

That didn’t matter to Los Angeles county education officials—they approved the charter and Celerity opened a kindergarten through fifth grade school in the fall of 2011.

Beware Pro-Charter School “Parent” Groups (by Alain Jehlen, NEA Today)

‘Won’t Back Down’: Parent Trigger Gets the Hollywood Treatment (by Tim Walker, NEA Today)

L.A. County Education Officials OK Compton Charter School (by Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times)

 

Inconsistent Quality of Charter Schools

As the number of charter schools continued to increase in many states, some critics, including charter school advocates, called for states to do a better job of enacting, overseeing and enforcing quality and operational standards for the schools.

 

A 2010 study by Stanford University found that students in only 17% of charter schools were outperforming demographically similar student populations at nearby, traditional neighborhood public schools. In 37% of cases, students at the traditional public schools performed at higher levels, and the remainder of the cases showed no statistically significant difference.

 

To help address the problem, the National Charter School Resource Center and the U.S. ED’s Office of Innovation and Improvement began developing a national database of all charter schools to better understand reasons for charter school successes and failures.

 

Meanwhile, many state governments considered legislation to improve taxpayer-funded charter school performance.

Educators Urge More Oversight of Charter Schools (by Leslie Brody, North Jersey.com)

States Move to Address Lack of Charter Oversight, Accountability (NEA Today)

Study Finds Charter Schools Avoid At-Risk Students (NEA Today)

 

Cyber Charter Schools in Pennsylvania Stir Trouble

Cyber charter schools have become very popular in Pennsylvania, where supporters and their detractors have sparred over the merits of the specialized schools.

 

As estimated by the ED, cyber charter schools, providing lessons to students via computers in their homes, increased their enrollment from 582 in 2001 to 27,779 by 2011—a 4,000% increase.

 

There are now 11 cyber schools operating in Pennsylvania.

 

Executives with the schools say they provide students a good education with more flexibility, allowing them to learn at their own pace while offering courses not available in their home districts.

 

Critics, including school superintendents and officials with traditional public schools, have complained about the cost of the schools and a lack of oversight and accountability.

They also say school districts, which must fund cyber charter schools, are not allowed to know how many hours an individual student spends in cyber class, what their grades are or how they perform on statewide academic tests. In addition, many of the cyber schools are low performing, with 18 under federal investigation over the past five years for such things as overcompensation to executives, corruption, and questionable financial practices.

Controversy swirls about cyber schools (by Terrie Morgan-Besecker, Times Leader)

Taxpayers could save $365 million with charter/cyber school reform bill; Amount could be higher if increased transparency requirements unmask more overfunding (Representative James Roebuck Jr.)

Report: 44 Pa. cyber/charter schools with investigations or problems; Support grows for bill to return $365 million in overpayments (Representative James Roebuck Jr

 

For-Profit College Company Recruited Unqualified Students to Earn More FSA

Education Management Corp. (EDMC), the nation’s second largest for-profit college company, was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011 for violating FSA rules. As it had done so since 2003, the government claimed, approximately $11 billion in FSA money went to the EDMC.

 

The federal government and five states joined two former EDMC employees who claimed the company gave incentives to recruiters for bringing more students into EDMC programs, which was a violation of federal law.

 

The plaintiffs also said the incentive-based approach resulted in many unqualified students being enrolled by the company’s schools.

 

“The depth and breadth of the fraud laid out in the complaint are astonishing,” Harry Litman, a lawyer involved in the case, told The New York Times. “It spans the entire company—from the ground level in over 100 separate institutions up to the most senior management—and accounts for nearly all the revenues the company has realized since 2003.”

 

The EDMC had about 150,000 students in 109 schools nationwide.

Pittsburgh-Based Education Management Squares Off Against Justice Department In Court (by Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

For-Profit Colleges Under Growing Scrutiny (by Nathan Koppel, Wall Street Journal)

Questions Follow Leader of For-Profit Colleges (by Tamar Lewin, New York Times)

For-Profit College Group Sued as U.S. Lays Out Wide Fraud (by Tamar Lewin, New York Times)

 

International College Recruiters

Banned from use for domestic recruitment in the United States, the use of college recruiters has continued by American universities seeking foreign students.

 

Economics and international competition have driven many U.S. higher education institutions to rely on overseas recruiters in an effort to boost enrollment.

 

In 2010, foreign students contributed $20 billion to the American economy through tuition payments and living expenses.

 

U.S. colleges have also used recruiters because of competition from other countries that have attracted more college-age students. While the U.S. still is one of the most popular places in the world for students from other countries to pursue their education, American universities have experienced a decline in foreign student enrollment.

 

Colleges and universities pay a recruiter or agent a commission, based on a percentage of a student’s tuition. The more individuals an agent recruits, the more money they earn. The practice can lead to recruiters signing up any and all, regardless of their potential. In fact, nearly two-thirds of students who use agents are ill prepared for college.

Use of International College Recruiters Remains Controversial (by Harrison Howe, Education Insider)

Illegal in U.S., Paid Agents Overseas Help American Colleges Recruit Students (by Tamar Lewin, New York Times)

Buyer Beware (by Elizabeth Redden, Insider Higher Ed)

 

Social Studies Cause Controversy in Texas

The Texas State Board of Education stirred controversy in 2010 by changing the state's social-studies curriculum standards and potentially affecting not only Texas’ students’ education but that of others as well around the country.

 

Many of the changes had what was described as a conservative spin on American history, which prompted many historians and educators to ask the board to reconsider its plans.

 

The revisions included replacing the word “capitalism” with “free enterprise system,” putting the inaugural address of Confederacy President Jefferson Davis on par with that of Abraham Lincoln, questioning the separation of church and state, and other controversial revisions.

 

Because Texas is one of the largest markets for textbooks in the country, opponents of the changes feared the board’s decision would influence other states to follow suit.

 

In California, a state senator introduced legislation that would ensure that texts adopted there would not contain Texas-inspired changes.

 

Cynthia Dunbar, a Republican board member, set the tone for the meeting when she opened it with an invocation. “I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses,” Dunbar said.

Ignoring Experts' Pleas, Texas Board Approves Controversial Curriculum Standards (by Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education)

Texas school board approves controversial textbook changes (PBS)

Texas State Board of Education Approves Controversial Social Studies Curriculum Changes (by Lois Elfman, Diverse)

Texas Board of Education's Controversial New Curriculum (by Nadra Kareem Nittle, About.com)

Texas Board Of Education To Vote On Controversial Curriculum Changes (by Jeremy Binckes, Huffington Post)

Head of Texas Education Board Committee Wants to Teach ‘Roles of Men and Women in a Traditional Way’ (TFN Insider)

 

For-Profit Schools Take Advantage of GIs

For-profit schools have been criticized for targeting veterans with misleading offers of higher education, only to leave them disappointed and in some cases feeling ripped off.

 

Frontline dedicated one show to how for-profits were aggressively going after GIs, including those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

 

All of the veterans interviewed by Frontline expressed displeasure with their for-profit education. Such schools specifically went after PTSD veterans, claiming their distance-learning programs were ideal for those unable to endure in-class education.

 

Some former Marines told how they couldn’t even remember some of the classes they had signed up for, which wasn’t a concern for the school as long as it received federal subsidies for the students.

 

Pursuing veterans had become a profitable enterprise for these institutions. From 2006 to 2010, the money received in military education benefits by just 20 for-profit companies jumped from $66.6 million to $521.2 million.

Alleged Mistreatment Of Vets By For-Profit Colleges (by James Marshall Crotty, Forbes)

Educating Sergeant Pantzke (Frontline)

Brain-Injured Marines and For-Profit Colleges (by Jean Braucher, Credit Slips)

For-Profit Colleges, Vulnerable G.I.’s (by Hollister Petraeus, New York Times)

How Pricey For-Profit Colleges Target Vets' GI Bill Money (by Adam Weinstein, Mother Jones)

 

International Rankings of U.S. Students Cause Controversy

American 15-year-olds were found to be merely average in terms of reading, math, and science when compared to students in other countries, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

 

The 2009 test, which measured how well students from more than 70 economies were prepared to meet future challenges, revealed the U.S. had made no improvement in reading since 2000, ranking 14th among nations developed countries. In mathematics, American 15-year-olds were below-average performers, ranking 25th. In science, they came in 17th.

 

“The hard truth,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “is that other high-performing nations have passed us by during the last two decades. . . . In a highly competitive knowledge economy, maintaining the educational status quo means America’s students are effectively losing ground.”

 

Some analysts later contended that the results were skewed and that adjusting for oversampling of low-income students, which are disproportionately high in the U.S., should have raised the ratings somewhat.

 

High performers on the PISA test included South Korea, Finland, Singapore, China, and Canada.

International Education Rankings Suggest Reform Can Lift U.S. (Department of Education)

'We're Number Umpteenth!': Debunking the Persistent Myth of Lagging U.S. Schools (by Alfie Kohn, Huffington Post)

The Real Reason America's Schools Stink (by Charles Kenny, Bloomberg)

Skewed PISA Rankings: US Students Actually Gaining On Finland & Korea (by Sarah Butrymowicz, Wired Academic)

 

Conservative Groups Demand Firing of Gay School Czar

Conservatives in 2009 went after an openly gay official in the Obama administration, objecting to his past work and remarks on homosexuality.

 

Kevin Jennings, assistant deputy secretary of education for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (now the Office of Safe and Healthy Students, or OSHS), was previously a teacher and founder of the organization Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, which raises awareness and preaches tolerance for gays in schools.

 

Rightwing media outlets such as WorldNetDaily, The Washington Times, and Fox News published articles attacking Jennings. The conservative group Accuracy in Media called Jennings a pedophile and erroneously accused him of teaching 14-year-old boys the dangerous sexual practice of “fisting” and discussing oral sex with them.

 

Jennings weathered the attacks, but resigned from the ED in 2011 to become president and CEO of the nonprofit national service organization Be the Change.

Accuracy in Media's Smear of Kevin Jennings Backfires (by Terry Krepel, Huffington Post)

Wash. Times continues its relentless campaign against Jennings (by Justin Berrier, Media Matters for America)

Think Again: Kevin Jennings, the Mainstream Media, and Right-Wing Target Practice (by Eric Alterman and Mickey Ehrlich, Center for American Progress)

Critics Assail Obama's 'Safe Schools' Czar, Say He's Wrong Man for the Job (by Maxim Lott, Fox News)

Ex-pupil defends Obama aide over controversial advice in 1988 (by Jessica Yelin, CNN)

Kevin Jennings Leaving Education Department to Head "Be The Change" (by Chris Geidner, Metro Weekly)

Kevin Jennings Takes on Critics (Advocate)

 

College Tuition Cost Increases—Linked to Federal Aid?

With the push by President Barack Obama to increase federal student aid came arguments and studies that claimed such spending helped cause increases in college tuitions.

 

The Wall Street Journal reported that the relationship between increasing aid and soaring prices at nonprofit four-year colleges was not a sure thing, saying studies showed everything from there being no link to a strong causal connection.

 

One new study found that tuition at for-profit schools where students receive federal aid was 75% higher than at comparable for-profit schools whose students don't receive any aid.

 

Andrew Biggs wrote in The Atlantic that economic research suggested that colleges siphoned off a “significant portion of federal education aid rather than lowering costs to students. Simply put, much of federal student aid is corporate welfare for colleges.”

 

Conservative critics like William Bennett, former secretary of education in the administration of President Ronald Reagan, insisted the cost of college tuition would continue to rise as long as FSA programs continued to increase with little or no accountability.

New Course in College Costs (by Josh Mitchell, Wall Street Journal)

The Truth About College Aid: It's Corporate Welfare (by Andrew Biggs, Atlantic)

Why Student Aid Is NOT Driving Up College Costs (by David L. Warren, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities)

How Can It Be? Student Financial Aid Fuels Increase In College Tuition (by Richard Vedder and Andrew Gillen, Center for College Affordability and Productivity)

Stop Subsidizing Soaring College Costs (by William J. Bennett, CNN)

 

Aid Elimination Penalty for Drug Use Causes Controversy

A Democratic lawmaker tried in 2009 to revoke a provision in federal law that prohibits students convicted of drug possession from receiving federal student loans.

 

Representative George Miller (D-California) introduced the provision into the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 that would reverse a 1998 amendment making students convicted of drug possession ineligible to collect federal funding unless they completed a rehab program and passed two unannounced drug tests. Students convicted of selling drugs would continue to be prohibited from receiving financial aid under the amendment.

 

Kris Krane, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said current law represented “an unfair penalty.”

 

“It’s double jeopardy, and it impacts students of color and low income students predominantly,” she told Fox News. “It actually creates more drug abuse, because we know that the best way to prevent drug abuse later on in life is to get a college degree. That opens opportunities for economic advancement later on in life.”

 

Some law enforcement groups opposed the change, saying the current policy deterred students from using drugs. Opposition to the amendment prevented it from remaining in the final bill when the House adopted it.

Drug Offenders To Get Federal Student Aid Under New Bill (by Maxim Lott, Fox News)

Student Drug Policy Reform Dropped From Health Bill (by Jane Teixeira, The California Aggie)

Drug Busts Hit Students Hard (WI Druggies Lose Financial Aid) (by Megan Doughty, Madison.com)

 

Theresa Shaw Controversy

The George W. Bush administration’s head of the FSA office resigned in 2007 following accusations that the FSA had been lax in policing the $85 billion student loan industry.

 

Theresa Shaw’s departure from the FSA was unrelated to reports that lenders had leveraged universities and financial aid officers with favors to win more business, according to officials in the Department of Education.

 

It was also reported that Shaw had received $250,000 in bonuses, which alarmed Democratic lawmakers in Congress.

 

Andrew Cuomo, attorney general of New York State, claimed the Education Department had been “asleep at the switch” in regulating the practices of lenders, prompting him to launch his own investigation.

 

Shaw was appointed in 2002 by Education Secretary Rod Paige after 22 years in industry, mostly at Sallie Mae, the largest student lender.

Federal Student Loan Official Is Resigning (by Jonathan Glater, New York Times)

Audit Report (U.S. Department of Education)

Dems Question $250,000 in Bonuses for Gov Official (by Justin Rood, ABC News)

 

Student Loan Scandals

Student loan officials working in universities and the federal government were caught owning stocks or receiving perks from lenders in a violation of conflict of interest rules.

 

Matteo Fontana, a federal worker who oversaw a student financial aid database, was suspended from his job in the U.S. Department of Education in 2009 after it was learned he owned 10,500 shares of stock in the Education Lending Group, parent company of Student Loan Xpress, which was the eighth-largest provider of student loans.

 

Fontana was the first government official caught up in a probe led by then-New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo focusing on conflicts of interest between lending companies and universities.

 

The Cuomo inquiry discovered revenue-sharing agreements in which lenders paid back schools a fixed percentage of the net value loans steered their way.

 

It was also reported that three major universities—Columbia, University of Texas-Austin, and University of Southern California—suspended their financial aid directors for also owning stock in Education Lending Group during their university tenures.

 

In 2007, Ellen Frishberg, financial aid director at Johns Hopkins University, was found to have accepted more than $130,000 from eight lending industry companies during her tenure.

Fed Suspended In Student Loan Probe (by Phil Hirschkorn, CBS News)

Hopkins Aid Officer Was Paid More by Lenders Than Disclosed (by Amit Paley, Washington Post)

Student Aid Financial Conflicts Draw Scrutiny of New York Official (by Elizabeth Weiss Green, U.S. News & World Report)

 

Arizona’s Segregation of English-Language Learners

Arizona’s controversial English emersion program for students represented de facto segregation, according to critics.

 

Under the English Language Development (ELD) program, students were forced to study English four hours a day, usually in separate classes from English-proficient students. The program was developed in 2007 in response to federal court orders (stemming from a 1992 case, Flores v. Horne, which eventually landed in the Supreme Court) requiring that the state offer an appropriate education to English-language learners (ELLs).

 

Two researchers from UCLA found numerous problems with the program, calling it “A Return to the Mexican Room.”

 

The program, wrote Patricia Gandara and Gary Orfield, was harmful to students’ achievement and social and emotional development, and exacerbated the existing segregation of these students.

 

Furthermore, the ELD was not moving the great majority of these students toward full English proficiency within one year, thus exposing them to “years of this unnecessary segregation and lack of access to the regular curriculum, pushing them further and further behind academically.”

 

“Arizona’s ELL program is a Draconian way to force children to learn English in a year, which is stupid and contrary to research,” Carlos Ovando, an Arizona State University professor and scholar who has co-authored several books on Arizona’s ELL programs, told Cronkite News.

 

Another ASU professor, Laida Restrepo, said: “The state implements these laws for political reasons with very little scientific backing. It gets people elected and it gives the politician brownie points, but it is not rooted in science.”

 

In 2009, the Supreme Court sent the case back to Arizona so that the efficacy of the ELD program could be examined. Tom Horne, the former Arizona public instruction superintendent who implemented the program, contended that it was sent back to the state as a response to Arizona’s recent adoption of a strict illegal-immigration law. In March 2013, a district court found that the four-hour daily immersion program did not violate civil-rights laws.

Segregating Arizona’s English Learners: A Return to the "Mexican Room"? (by Patricia Gandara and Gary Orfield, Teachers College Record)

A Return to the “Mexican Room” (by Patricia Gandara and Gary Orfield, UCLA)

Hearing on Federal ELL Case Gets Under Way in Arizona (by Mary Ann Zehr, Education Week)

Judge Upholds Arizona Program for English-Language Learner Classes (by Anne Ryman, Republic)

Arizona’s English Immersion Program Could Be Unlawful (by Lauren Gambino, Cronkite News)

State-Mandated English Policy Under Fire In Arizona (by Claudio Sanchez, NPR)

 

States Slow to Meet Federal ELL Goals

A report from the U.S. Department of Education released in 2012 revealed that most states were still struggling to meet federal goals for ELLs regarding mathematics and reading.

 

Seventeen states in the 2006-07 school year reported meeting all three academic goals for ELLs, which included progress in learning English, attainment of fluency, and demonstration of proficiency on state content tests in reading and math.

 

But that progress stalled by the 2007-08 school year when just 11 states reported that they met all three targets. In the following year, 2008-09, the number dropped again—to 10 states. Those that met the targets in that year included Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and West Virginia.

States Show Slow Progress With English-Learners (by Lesli A. Maxwell, Education Week)

Study: Most ELLs Are in Districts That Fall Short on Federal Goals (by Lesli A. Maxwell, Education Week)

Schools Fail to Meet Goals for ELL Students (by Julie Wootton, Magic Valley)

National Evaluation of Title III Implementation—Report on State and Local Implementation (American Institutes for Research) (pdf)

Director Violates Ethics Rules

Eric Andell, a former appellate judge in Houston, Texas, got into trouble while heading the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (now the Office of Safe and Healthy Students, or OSHS) during the George W. Bush administration.

 

Andell was charged with billing the government for personal expenses related to 14 trips he took. He also did not disclose to the federal government that he received salary and paid sick leave from the state of Texas as a visiting retired judge.

 

In 2005, Andell pleaded guilty to unlawful conflict of interest. His punishment consisted of one year of unsupervised probations, a $5,000 fine and 100 hours of community service.

 

But he did not lose his law license in Texas, where he continued to practice law.

Former judge Andell gets probation, $5,000 fine (by Michael Hedges, Houston Chronicle)

Attorney Eric Andell of Houston; scofflaw, moron, ethical gremlin (Committee to Expose Dishonest and Incompetent Judges, Attorneys and Public Officials)

 

Government Hires Media Commentator

In an effort to promote the No Child Left Behind program, the George W. Bush administration hired a conservative black commentator, Armstrong Williams, to promote the controversial plan on television and radio. Education Secretary Roderick Paige defended the move, calling it a standard “outreach effort” to minority groups who stood to benefit most from the administration’s showcasing of NCLB.

 

The ED’s inspector general criticized the contract, under which Williams also agreed “to regularly comment on” and promote the law during his syndicated TV show. Williams contended that he did nothing illegal. The $240,000 deal produced one radio ad and one TV ad before the contract was suspended.

Pundit Armstrong Williams settles case over promoting education reforms (by Greg Toppo, USA Today)

Administration Paid Commentator: Education Dept. Used Williams to Promote 'No Child' Law (by Howard Kurtz, Washington Post)

 

ED Overpays Student Loan Lenders

In 2004 the Government Accountability Office warned Education officials that legal loopholes could result in the government paying billions of dollars in unnecessary subsidies to banks that provided loans to college students. The department chose to do nothing about the problem, and even as of 2007, after the inspector general found serious financial mistakes committed by the department, then-Education Secretary Margaret Spellings gave no indication that she would order banks to repay the government.

 

The inspector general concluded that the government had overpaid one lender, Nebraska-based Nelnet, $278 million from 2003 to 2005. The Washington Post conducted its own analysis and determined that potential overpayments to other lenders from 2003 to 2006 could total roughly $300 million. Two lenders, the New Hampshire Higher Education Loan Corp. and the Arkansas Student Loan Authority, said they returned millions of dollars in subsidy payments voluntarily after they discovered errors themselves.

 

Spellings acknowledged that the federal government “had some responsibility” for “confusion” over subsidy rules that helped student loan companies reap hundreds of millions of dollars in potentially excessive payments at taxpayer expense. But she would not seek a full accounting of the cost of what the ED’s inspector general termed “improper” payments in a program that guaranteed lenders a 9.5% interest rate for certain loans even when market rates are much lower. Nor did the department plan to seek reimbursement.

 

In 2010 President Barack Obama and a Democratic-led Congress ended the federal guaranteed student loan program, thereby cutting out banks as the middleman and, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), saving $62 billion by 2010 and providing more funds to go directly to students.

Confusion Cited in Overpayments To Student Lenders (by Amit R. Paley, Washington Post)

 

ED Official Allows Extra Payments to Loan Company

In January 2007, then-Education Under Secretary Sara Martinez Tucker allowed student loan company Nelnet to keep $278 million in overpayments that Department of Education auditors had declared improper. Then it was revealed that Tucker had ties to Nelnet through her years at the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF)—which went from a philanthropic organization to a major fund-raising operation under her leadership.

 

Officials at the Department of Education defended Tucker’s work regarding Nelnet. They also indicated they were unwilling to recover the funds from Nelnet for fear it would force the department to pursue other lenders, which could potentially eliminate some student borrowing options.

Coverage of the Nelnet Settlement (New America Foundation)

 

Upward Bound

In March 2008, the Department of Education halted a controversial study on the “Upward Bound” program that helps prepare first generation and low-income students for college. Begun in 2007, the study was designed to measure whether narrowing the focus to students considered less likely to pursue higher education would make the program more effective. Critics called the study—which required grantees to enroll twice as many students as normal and assign one half to a control group—unethical, even immoral, for recruiting disadvantaged students and then denying them entry for the purpose of determining numbers.

Education Dept. to End Controversial Study of Upward Bound, Chronicle of Higher Education (by Kelly Field, Chronicle of Higher Education)

 

Sallie Mae Uses Freedom of Information Act to Obtain Student Data

In October 2007, student loan giant Sallie Mae filed a New York Freedom of Information Law request (pdf) asking community colleges in the State University of New York (SUNY) system to provide the company with the names, telephone numbers and home mailing and e-mail addresses of “all admitted and enrolled students for academic year 2007-2008.”

 

The request, which came from the company’s Direct Marketing division, also asked the schools to identify the age, graduating class and major of each student listed.

 

Such requests from direct-to-consumer private student loan companies are raising alarms among college financial aid administrators, who worry that the companies are trying to lure their students to take on unnecessarily high levels of debt.

           

After word got out about Sallie Mae’s activities, the company shut down the effort.

Sallie Mae Demands SUNY Colleges Turn Over Students' Personal Data (by Stephen Burd, New America Foundation)

New America in The Chronicle of Higher Education on Sallie Mae (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

 

Are Education Research and Randomized Trials Any Use?

In the wake of the George W. Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind law, educators were instructed by policymakers to rely more on “scientifically based” research. But by the end of the Bush era, officials in education found themselves confronted with a mixed bag of methods and research that often was labeled inconclusive, politically charged or less than useful for classroom teachers.

 

During a meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), critics said education researchers too often focused on topics that didn’t help schools solve practical problems such as how to train teachers, improve skills, and lower dropout rates.

 

“Some good work is getting done, but the balance of influence in AERA is not with people doing rigorous, carefully designed, obviously important research,” Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, told USA Today.

 

Another point of contention revolved around randomized trials and their use in evaluating educational methods.

 

Critics labeled the trials as unethical, saying students in the experimental group were subjected to methods that were not only ineffective but also harmful, while students in the control group were denied the benefits of new and useful methods.

 

Others argued that educational outcomes depended on more factors than could be controlled by a randomized trial, as in medicine, leading to doubts about whether the results were truly “scientific.”

 

Still others criticized the emphasis on randomized trials in the absence of additional funding for schools that agreed to implement them.

Usefulness of Education Research Questioned (by Greg Toppo, USA Today)

Searching for Science to Guide Good Teaching (by Maria Glod, Washington Post)

What can educators learn from the Red Sox? (by Beth Gamse and Judith Singer, Usable Knowledge, Harvard Graduate School of Education) 

What Does Scientifically Based Research Mean for Schools? (by Lesley Dahlkemper, SEDL Letter)

more
Debate:

Should higher education funding be cut?

Debate over funding for higher education has historically fallen along partisan lines, with Democrats advocating more liberal spending and Republicans looking to dismantle federal assistance infrastructure. The rising cost of college tuition, room and board—about 62% (adjusted for inflation) between 2001 and 2011—has stirred the debate over higher education.

 

In recent years, many Department of Education (ED) programs have been cut and lawmakers from both sides have called for increased oversight of spending at the postsecondary level. In February 2008, the House of Representatives passed legislation to renew the Higher Education Act with bipartisan support. With all parties increasingly concerned about the inhibitive costs of higher education, Democrats joined Republicans in supporting a measure (House Bill H.R. 4137) that would pressure institutions to keep a tighter grip on costs and spending. Citing racial bias and disapproval with a diminished secretarial accreditation authority, the George W. Bush administration expressed initial opposition to provisions in the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 (H.R. 4137). President Bush eventually relented and signed it into law.

 

In 2009, President Barack Obama and ED launched Race to the Top, a $4.35 billion competition that awards funds to states whose schools do the most to meet certain federal educational criteria. And in 2010, Obama signed into law the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, a sweeping reform of the student financial aid industry that increased Pell Grant awards and saves $68 billion over 11 years by removing lending institutions from the loan process, thereby freeing up additional funds for student loans.

 

Federal aid advocates decry spending cuts, while libertarian groups like The Heritage Foundation continue to argue that federal spending on higher education fails to help make it affordable, as “colleges and universities just consume this additional revenue.”

 

In early 2013, Senate Democrats and House Republicans offered up competing budget plans that would impact funding for education.

 

The Senate proposal did nothing to alter cuts imposed under the sequestration, meaning they would remain in place for at least the rest of the fiscal year if the House agreed on the spending package. It also did not give agencies greater discretion in applying the cuts, denying the Education Department the ability to designate one program to suffer the brunt of the reductions and instead have to spread them out among various initiatives.

 

In the House, Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican, Budget Committee chairman, and former vice-presidential nominee, introduced a 10-year budget plan that would cap the Pell Grant’s growth at its current level and alter the needs analysis formula for financial aid.

 

House Republicans also called for consolidating job-training programs and then supplanting them with “career scholarships.”

Dueling Plans for Federal Spending (by Libby A. Nelson, Inside Higher Ed)

U.S. Bill Specifies State Higher Ed Spending (by Pauline Vu, Stateline.org)

House, Focusing on Cost, Approves Higher Education Act (by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed)

Senate debates higher education provisions to improve federal programs and expand access to college (by Mike Enzi, U.S. Senate)

 

Pro (yes, downsizing is a good idea):

Critics of federal spending on higher education, largely Republicans and conservatives, have lamented the rising expenditure of funds for Pell Grants and other assistance coming out of Washington.

 

They argue that the more money ED spends to help college students, the more tuition goes up at many universities.

 

Dan Lips at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, wrote: “Quite simply, college tuition is becoming more expensive each year.” He also cited work by Richard Vedder, author of “Going Broke By Degree: Why College Costs Too Much,” which showed increases in federal spending on higher education had contributed to rising tuition costs. 

 

“In other words, federal subsidies are not making higher education more affordable because colleges and universities simply consume this additional source of revenue,” Lips added.

 

Other critics say public colleges and universities must reign in their spending, especially when it comes to employee benefits (particularly retirement and health care), because those increases are the driving force behind tuition increases at many institutions.

The Facts on Federal Education Spending (by Dan Lips, Heritage Foundation)

State Budgeters' View of Higher Ed (by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed)

 

Con (no, spending cuts hurt education):

Officials in higher education have lamented any talk of Washington reducing support for universities and colleges.

 

They point to a 2013 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, saying more students are going to college, but fewer resources are available to help them afford their education, especially for low-income students.

 

At the same time, states have made deep cuts in higher education budgets, making it difficult for colleges to hire full-time staff and faculty—and that can lead to lowering academic quality and graduation rates.

 

Many schools are turning to hiring more adjunct instructors, which are less expensive and now make up the majority of the faculty workforce. The problem with that is adjuncts often have multiple jobs, leaving them with less time to assist students.

From Bad to Worse (by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed)

Higher Education Cuts Risk Damaging State Economies For Years To Come: CBPP Report (by Tyler Kingkade, Huffington Post)

 

Should No Child Left Behind be “left behind”?

Three days into the George W. Bush presidency, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was adopted, becoming a “cornerstone” of the administration.

 

The intent of the law was for all students, regardless of economic status, race, ethnicity, or disability, to attain proficiency in reading, math, and science by 2014.

 

The focus of NCLB is standards, testing, accountability measures, and teacher quality. It requires states to set standards and develop assessments and annual measurable benchmarks, and for districts and schools to implement them.

 

Ten years after its implementation, the law has received mixed reviews, with critics decrying an overemphasis on testing that they claim has often proven ineffective and subject to manipulation.

 

In 2010, President Barack Obama proposed a plan to reform the NCLB program. Pending its reauthorization, the Obama administration’s Department of Education in 2011 invited states to apply for waivers from the law.

 

By 2012, the Obama administration had waived 32 states and Washington D.C. from abiding by NCLB rules.

No Child Left Behind: An analysis of the controversy (by Thomas Imms, New Foundations)

A Guide to the No Child Left Behind Act (by Pamela Karwasinski and Katharine Shek, Center for Public Education)

The good and bad of NCLB (Editorial, Washington Times)

Why No Child Left Behind is a Good Law - And How to Use It (by Pete Wright, Wrightslaw)

No Child Left Behind Worsened Education, 48 Percent Of Americans 'Very Familiar' With The Law Say In Gallup Poll (Huffington Post)

No Child Left Behind Waivers Granted To 33 U.S. States, Some With Strings Attached

(by Joy Resmovits, Huffington Post)

The Controversy: Has NCLB Been Successful or Has It Failed? (Carleton.edu)

 

Pro (keep NCLB):

Supporters of NCLB offer many reasons for why the law should be maintained:

 

  • The law makes sure all children are counted, and that schools are responsible for making sure every child is learning.
  • It provides parents with unprecedented information and new options for their children, which may include free tutoring.
  • Teachers benefit from utilizing assessment data and scientifically based teaching methods to improve classroom instruction.
  • Schools in need of improvement receive extra help and resources to raise student achievement.

 

Supporters point out that student test scores have increased since NCLB took effect in 2002. Furthermore, test scores of minority students have gone up the most during this time.

 

Additionally, the overall achievement gap between minority and white students has decreased between 1999 and 2004.

 

Other achievements under NCLB include:

 

  • Nearly 450,000 eligible students have received free supplemental educational services (tutoring) or public school choice.
  • Regular testing has allowed schools to identify the individual students in need of additional aid to reach grade level proficiency.
  • Results have shown that the nation is still on track to reach the 2014 deadline for universal grade level proficiency in math and reading.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (U.S. Department of Education)

No Child Left Behind Act Is Working (U.S. Department of Education)

Summer 2005 Correspondence (Education Next)

The Student Success Act: Reforming Federal Accountability Requirements Under No Child Left Behind (by Lindsey Burke, Heritage Foundation)

 

Con (do away with NCLB):

Critics of NCLB offer their own list of reasons for why the law has been a mistake:

 

  • The federal government has consistently failed to provide the amount of funding the program requires.
  • Achievement is measured only by a students’ performance on annual multiple-choice reading and math tests.
  • Teachers are increasingly only teaching “to the test” due to widespread fears that their students will perform poorly resulting in their termination.
  • All students are held to the same achievement standard (as dictated by their state) regardless of their ability level, socioeconomic status and native language. The only students not held to the same achievement standards are those with severe physical or mental disabilities.
  • Due to the intense focus on math and reading proficiency, fewer resources and time are devoted to subjects such as art, physical education, social studies, and science.
  • Analysis of the academic reports by organizations who are unaffiliated with the federal board of education have come to mixed conclusions regarding the success of NCLB in raising math and reading achievement.
  • Many education professionals argue that it is impossible to compare data on a nation-wide scale because each state defines and assesses proficiency differently.

 

In addition, critics point to a Gallup poll showing more Americans think NCLB has made education in the U.S. worse rather than better.

 

Twenty-nine percent believe the law has weakened education in America, while only 16% say it has improved things. Another 38% said NCLB hasn’t made much of a difference.

U.S. Senate Testimony about NCLB (by Edward J. McElroy, American Federation of Teachers)

Testing the NCLB: Study shows that NCLB hasn't significantly impacted national achievement scores or narrowed the racial gaps (Civil Rights Project, Harvard)

Problems with NCLB (University of Michigan website)

The Failure of No Child Left Behind (J.D. Stockman, Yahoo! Contributor Network)

A decade of No Child Left Behind: Lessons from a policy failure (by Valerie Strauss, Washington Post)

50 Ways to leave a Child Behind (by Elizabeth Davidson, Randall Reback, Jonah Rockoff and Heather L. Schwartz, Columbia University)

 

Should Common Core State Standards be scrapped?

Common Core, which promotes voluntary national standards in math and reading, came into being in 2009, when the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers announced plans to establish such standards.

 

All but four states—Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia—signed on to the standards and agreed to help implement them by 2014. The movement was aided by President Barack Obama, who decided to link Common Core standards to billions of dollars in federal grants.

 

This decision enraged conservatives, who object to the federal government meddling in state education policy. Other critics of the standards insist they will do little to help children learn and will cost some states billions.

State Costs for Adopting and Implementing the Common Core State Standards (by Lindsey Burke, Heritage Foundation)

Common Core Wars – The Stakes Keep Getting Higher (BC Culture)

 

Pro (scrap them):

In a report from the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings, it was argued that Common Core State Standards will do little to impact student learning. The study noted that states have had curricular standards for schools for many years, and that the data on the effects of these standards showed that the quality of state standards is not related to state achievement and the rigor of state standards is also unrelated to achievement.

 

Other critics expressed fear that Common Core is really not about helping students receive a better education, but lining the pockets of testing companies that contract with state education departments to provide standardized tests.

How Well are American Students Learning (Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings)

Common Core Standards Drive Wedge In Education Circles (by Greg Toppo, USA Today)

 

Con (keep them):

Supporters of Common Core say the standards will provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.

 

They add that the standards will be designed to be “robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.”

 

This, in turn, will help the nation as future generations will become better prepared to compete in the global economy.

 

Furthermore, supporters dispute the notion that adopting common standards will bring all states’ standards down to the lowest common denominator.

Common Core State Standards Initiative

Myths About Content and Quality: General (Common Core State Standards Initiative)

 

 

Should the Department of Education be abolished?

Created during the Carter administration, the ED is responsible for administering billions of dollars in federal aid, including grants to college students and public schools serving low-income and special needs children, collecting statistics from school districts and enforcing federal education laws. Despite performing numerous functions, Republican politicians have regularly criticized the ED, going so far as to call for its abolition.

 

In fact, during every presidential election from 1980 to 2000, the GOP included language in the party’s plank stating: “The federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in school curricula or to control jobs in the market place. This is why we will abolish the Department of Education.”

 

The political bashing continued during the 2012 campaign, with one Republican candidate after another attacking the agency.

 

Democrats have just as consistently defended the ED, calling it a vital part of the federal government.

Abolish the Education Department? Abandoned Idea Gets New Life (Fox News)

Abolish the Department of Education? (by Ann Kane and M. Catharine Evans, American Thinker)

What Would Happen if Dept. of Education Were Closed? (by Morgan Smith, Texas Tribune)

 

Con (ED should not be abolished):

Supporters of the ED insist the elimination of the agency would be catastrophic for children of all ages and backgrounds in the U.S.

 

Federal education funding is vital, they say, for students from poor families. These monies make up a relatively small portion of the total funding for public schools, but they do provide important help for at-risk kids.

 

Proponents also say the department has really helped focus schools and educators on all children, regardless of their needs or proficiencies.

 

Eliminating the agency would force school officials at the state and local level to choose from downsizing, reassigning or eliminating many programs that rely on funding from Washington.

What happens if Rand Paul, allies, abolish the U.S. Dept. of Education? (by Halimah Abdullah, Bluegrass Politics)

Call to abolish Dept. of Education dismally misguided (Mountain Democrat)

 

Pro (ED should be dismantled):

Republican arguments for dismantling the ED have centered around one point: Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution, they say, does it authorize the federal government to be involved in schools.

 

“There’s not a hint in the Constitution that we ought to have it,” Representative Roscoe G. Bartlett, a Maryland Republican and a member of the House’s Tea Party Caucus, said.

 

Bartlett and others also claim that having a federal office dedicated to education has done nothing to help students or teachers.

 

Republicans would prefer that local school boards, teachers, and parents make the important decisions about how kids are educated, not Washington.

‘Tea party’ hopefuls target Education Department (by Joseph Weber, Washington Times)

Michele Bachmann Suggests Axing The Department Of Education (Huffington Post)

more
Suggested Reforms:

Reforms for the ESEA

Experts from the left and the right came together in 2012 to jointly offer up a series of reforms to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), reauthorized in 2001 as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), but first established during the Great Society efforts of the 1960s.

 

The American Enterprise Institute and Center for American Progress collaborated in an effort to raise the public profile of what they said were many very important but often overlooked Title I provisions apart from those involving accountability for student achievement—that is, the financial assistance sections dealing with allocations of funds.

 

Their plan was not to delve into fundamental questions about the federal role in public education or the broader aspects of reforming the ESEA.

 

Instead, the two organizations focused on “requirements that are often regarded as obscure, technical, or otherwise unglamorous,” the report stated.

 

“And while it is certainly true that No Child Left Behind’s accountability system gets the lion’s share of the attention, we would argue that these seemingly mundane provisions may well prove more significant when it comes to what goes on in America’s schools and school systems day-to-day,” the report added.

Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Offers a New Chance to Improve Education (by Raegen T. Miller, Frederick M. Hess and Cynthia G. Brown, American Enterprise Institute and Center for American Progress) (pdf)

 

Waiver Program to Reform NCLB

The Obama administration announced in 2011 that it would provide waivers to states seeking relief from the NCLB law.

 

But the U.S. Department of Education (ED) insisted only states willing to embrace education reform would receive the waivers.

 

The administration sought changes in NCLB that called for college- and career-ready standards, more great teachers and principals, robust use of data, and a more flexible and targeted accountability system based on measuring annual student growth.

 

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said NCLB had forced “[school] districts into one-size-fits-all solutions that just don’t work. The President understands this and he has directed us to move ahead in providing relief—but only for states and districts that are prepared to address our educational challenges.”

 

As of 2013, only two states seeking waivers—California and Iowa—had been turned down by the administration because their teacher evaluations plans were rejected.

Obama Administration Proceeds with Reform of No Child Left Behind Following Congressional Inaction (U.S. Department of Education)

26 More States and D.C. Seek Flexibility from NCLB to Drive Education Reforms in Second Round of Requests (U.S. Department of Education)

The Unfinished Work of Education Reform (U.S. Department of Education)

NCLB Waivers: A State-by-State Breakdown (Education Week)

 

Put Banks Back in Charge of Student Aid

Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) proposed while campaigning as Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012 to make several reforms to Federal Student Aid (FSA), including a rollback of changes under President Barack Obama that cut banks out of the student loan process.

 

Prior to the passage of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), federally backed student loans were administered through a public-private partnership in which the federal government subsidized and guaranteed student loans provided by private lenders.

 

This system allowed banks to receive taxpayer money as an incentive to keep interest rates low. The government also guaranteed that it would pay back up to 97% of the loan principal if the borrowers defaulted, which cut out virtually all risk for banks.

 

“That proved an inefficient way to provide loans, but a great way to prop up banks and waste a bunch of money,” Tim Price wrote for Salon.

 

If Ryan and Romney had had their way, the government would have returned to this system so banks could again profit from student loan lending.

 

Ryan also advocated for changes to the Pell Grant program. The Republican congressman wanted students who qualify for just the minimum award amount, part-time students and those enrolled in summer classes to be ineligible for Pell grants.

Ryan, GOP’s Likely VP Nominee, Plans To Reform Federal Student Aid (by James Toliver, Jambar.com)

GOP’s Newest Attack On Student Loans (by Tim Price, Salon)

 

Reauthorization of Perkins Act

The Obama administration in 2012 announced a plan for reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, which aimed to increase the quality of technical education by providing federal funding.

 

Contained in the report, “Investing in America’s Future: A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education,” the plan focused making numerous educational reforms, primarily pertaining to two-year colleges and technical education programs.

 

One reform sought to create more competition in distributing Perkins funding within states.

 

A second reform called for common participation and performance indicators to allow for the evaluation and assessment of programs “in a standard and clear way,” according to the ED, in the hopes of ensuring program improvements.

 

A third reform introduced performance-based funding to “reward local consortia that demonstrate success in improving student outcomes and closing equity gaps,” the department stated.

Secretary of Education Unveils Blueprint to Reform Nation’s Vocational Education System (by James Swift, Youth Today)

Investing in America’s Future A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education (U.S. Department of Education)

OVAE Connection May 24, 2012 (U.S. Department of Education)

Career Clusters™ Institute Recap: Perkins Reauthorization Blueprint Discussion of State-Level Implications (CTE)

Perkins Legislation (Schargel Consulting Group)

S. 3295 (112th): Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013 (Govtrack.us)

 

Obama’s Reforms for ESEA

President Barack Obama unveiled in 2010 a sweeping overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), reauthorized in 2001 as No Child Left Behind, which intended to change how schools were judged on their performance.

 

Many of Obama’s reforms, coming with the reauthorization of the ESEA, consisted of suggestions offered by critics of the law, including those from teachers’ unions, associations of principals, school boards, and other groups.

 

The Obama administration insisted it was committed to shrinking the achievement gap between minority and white students and encouraging teacher quality.

 

One significant change involved federal financing formulas. The reform would have altered how a portion of federal money was awarded based on academic progress, instead of relying on formulas that apportion money to districts according to their numbers of students, especially poor students.

 

Another revision would eliminate the 2014 deadline requiring that all American students reach academic proficiency.

ESEA Reauthorization: A Blueprint for Reform (U.S. Department of Education)

A Blueprint for Reform (U.S. Department of Education)

Obama to Seek Sweeping Change in ‘No Child’ Law (by Sam Dillon, New York Times)

Senate Education Panel Approves ESEA Overhaul (by Alyson Klein, Education Week)

Starting From Scratch With ESEA (by Marshall Smith, Education Week)

 

Obama’s 2012 Plans for Reform of Financial Student Aid

President Barack Obama proposed in 2012 to make several reforms impacting federal student aid for those in college.

 

During his State of the Union address, Obama talked of reforms that would shift aid away from colleges that fail to keep tuition costs down, and toward those colleges and universities that work to keep tuition affordable, provide good value, and serve needy students.

 

Later in the year Obama called for increasing the Pell Grant cap, doubling the number of work-study positions available, and making other changes to federal student-loan programs.

 

Under Obama’s budget plan, the federal Pell Grant limit would increase from $5,550 to $5,635, with an additional 110,000 work-study jobs over five years.

 

The president’s proposal also sought to cap the federal Stafford Loan interest rate at 3.4% for one more year (interest rates were set to jump to 6.8% in July 2012).

 

Furthermore, funding for Perkins Loans would also increase from $1 billion to $8.5 billion under the president’s plan.

FACT SHEET: President Obama’s Blueprint for Keeping College Affordable and Within Reach for All Americans (White House)

Higher Ed Experts Applaud Obama's Student Aid Proposals (by Chastity Dillard, Daily Iowan)

Obama Speeds Up Aid for College Students: How Will It Help You? (by Huma Khan, ABC News)

 

NIEA Reform Suggestions

The National Indian Education Association (NIEA) called in 2011 for changes to the federal Office of Indian Education (OIE), arguing the OIE should be elevated within the U.S. Department of Education.

 

In a briefing paper presented at the NIEA’s annual legislative summit, the advocacy organization noted the OIE at various times since its creation had been downsized, and even placed under the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. This resulted in the role of the OIE’s director being limited primarily to grant management.

 

The NIEA added that the director lacked authority to “meaningfully participate in Department policy discussions and decision-making, to manage much needed collaboration and alignment between offices within [the department] and other federal agencies, such as Department of the Interior, and to ensure coordinated and efficient expenditures on Indian education.”

 

Given these concerns, the organization said the OIE should be elevated within the Education Department and that its top official should not be a director, but an assistant secretary of Indian education reporting directly to the Office of the Secretary of Education.

Restoring the Trust in Native Education (NIEA Legislative Summit)

Indian Tribal Leaders Give ED Input on Needs of Urban Indian Students (by Joe Barison, Homeroom)

more
Former Directors:

Margaret Spellings (January 20, 2005 - January 20, 2009)

Roderick Paige (January 20, 2001 - January 20, 2005)

Richard Riley (January 21, 1993 - January 20, 2001)

Lamar Alexander (March 22, 1991 - January 20, 1993)

Lauro Cavazos (September 20, 1988 - December 12, 1990)

William J. Bennett (February 6, 1985 - 1988)

Terrel Bell (January 22, 1981 - January 20, 1985)

Shirley Hufstedler (November 30, 1979 - January 20, 1981)

more

Comments

Kenneth James Stevens 5 months ago
IAM A STUDENT TRYING HARD FOR MY G.E.D ACTION LITERACY HAVE THESE BOGUSS CLASSES THAT KEEPING UP PURE MESS FROM ADMINISTRATORS ON UP!MY KENNETH STEVENS AGE 62 LIVE AT PEACHTREE AND PINES SHELTER 477 PEACHTREE AND PINES.SOME CALL DRUGS USERS ALL AROUND THE GIANT BULDING HERE AND MANY OTHER THING THEY DO,MANY COME GO COME BACK.GETTING OVER ON THE SYSTEM. MANY ARE NOT CITIZEN SIR! OR MA! HELP!,HELP!HELP,!
Scott Moschette 8 months ago
The fafsa web site is not working right I been trying to get it done but it will not go to the next page this needs to to be looked at.
eva brown 9 months ago
So I have a problem with the loan forgiveness program. I have been teaching for 18 years, received a student loan prior to 1998 (took time off to have and raise a family) returned to teaching always in Title 1 schools but yet I am not eligible for forgiveness because the loan(s) were prior to 1998. THAT IS SO UNFAIR, when someone recently out of school (served 5 years in a title school) can have the majority of their loans forgiven. I feel if you are going to have such a program EVERYONE should be eligible for forgiveness! I have many younger friends who are student loan free because of this program, yet I am still paying! Furthermore, many of those people have left the profession shortly after getting the loans taken care of. Unlike the true, devoted teachers who stays in their profession. I would like to follow-up and see how this law can be changed so everyone can benefit. PLEASE GUIDE ME IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION!! I want the same opportunity as the people who enter the profession after 1998 has.
JILL 10 months ago
I am in the process of closing on a home. I needed documentation from NELNET stating that under the graduated payment plan how much monthly payment would be. They told I had to quit school so I did. I had the registrars office fax over a letter. It seems that no one has any souls at Nelnet. I explained my situation over and over. I will literally be homeless within the next week, I have to be out of my current home by July 24. I have quit my last year of my Masters Program. All I needed was a letter stating how much my student load would be if I began paying. I agreed to begin the repayment process and they still would not help me. When I say that my life is about to be ruined this is not an exaggeration. My hopes of the American Dream and gaining an education are single handedly being ruined because I need to pay my student loan? It almost doesn't sound real but this is what is happening right now. PLEASE HELP ME, PLEASE. Desperately In Need, Jill Hodkivitz 312-560-3456
Juan Carlos Sanchez 4 years ago
My name is Juan Carlos Sánchez, I have been a Language teacher for 24 years and a Master’s Degree teacher for 4 years in Torreón, Coahuila and Gomez Palacio Durango, Mexico. My nationality is Spanish and Mexican. I have taught 7th, 8th and 9th grade; University Bachelor Degree; and University Master’s Degree students. I am looking for an opportunity to work in Universities and Schools in Unites States. I don´t have a permisson o visa to work in USA. How can I get one to offer my services? I believe this schools can use my Spanish, English and Education abilities. Thank you for your time and consideration, Juan Carlos Sanchez
david tsuneishi 4 years ago
The Office/bureau of Education was part of the department of interior 1867 to 1939 when the Federal Security Agency of was established which included the office of education, the social security board, civilian conservation corps and other agencies.

Leave a comment

Founded: 1980
Annual Budget: $69.8 billion (FY 2013 Request)
Employees: 4,279 (FY 2013 Request)
Official Website: http://www.ed.gov

Department of Education

DeVos, Betsy
Secretary

For the first time in U.S. history, the vice president of the United States cast a tie-breaking vote in the U.S. Senate to confirm the president’s nomination for a Cabinet post.

 

In a highly contentious and ultimately historic confirmation battle, the Senate—with the help of Vice President Mike Pence—fulfilled President Donald Trump’s desire to fill the Education Secretary position with a billionaire heiress with no training or experience in education who advocates privatizing the public school system despite having never attended public schools nor allowing her children to do so. On February 7, 2017, Betsy Prince DeVos was confirmed as Trump’s choice for secretary of education.

 

Senators heard from many thousands of Americans, including educators, teachers unions and even charter organizations, who opposed the nomination, but it wasn’t quite enough. Two Republican defections and an all-night vigil filled with speeches by outraged Democrats brought the tally to a 50-50 split, which was one vote short in preventing Pence from tilting the tie in favor of DeVos’s confirmation.

 

Elisabeth Prince was born on January 8, 1958, in Holland, Michigan, to Elsa (Zwiep) Prince and Edgar Prince, a businessman who founded Prince Corporation, an automobile parts supplier based in Holland, Michigan. He sold the business in 1996 for $1.35 billion. Edgar Prince also founded, with Gary Bauer, the Family Research Council , which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group for its advocacy against gays and other sexual minorities.

 

DeVos’ younger brother, Erik Prince, founded Blackwater USA, a private military firm that lost its US-created license to operate in Iraq after a series of incidents, including a 2007 shooting in which Blackwater mercenaries killed seventeen Iraqi civilians.

 

Betsy DeVos graduated Holland Christian High School in 1975. In 1979, she earned a B.A. in the economics group at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a small, fundamentalist Christian school where, as recently as 2011, a biology professor was forced out after affirming a belief in evolution. At Calvin, DeVos was “involved with campus politics,” according to a puff piece in Philanthropy magazine. 

 

In 1979, Betsy married Dick DeVos, son and heir of Richard DeVos, the founder of multilevel-marketing company Amway. The younger DeVos ran Amway’s parent company, Alticor, from 1993 to 2002, and was the defeated 2006 Republican nominee for governor of Michigan.

 

Although it is not clear whether Betsy DeVos has ever had a normal job, she is on the Board of the Windquest Group, a private equity firm she and her husband founded that invests in technology, manufacturing, and energy.

 

Mostly, Betsy DeVos has spent her adult life as a political activist for conservative candidates and causes. Since 1982, she has been a large and active donor to the Republican Party, serving as a Republican national committeewoman for Michigan from 1992 to 1997, as chairwoman of the state party from 1996 to 2000, and 2003 to 2005, and as finance chairman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. DeVos raised more than $150,000 for the 2004 Bush re-election campaign, and in October 2008 hosted a GOP fundraiser at her home that was headlined by President George W. Bush.

 

But Betsy DeVos is best known for advocating “school choice” schemes like charter schools and tuitions vouchers that would gradually privatize public schools and allow them to be more religiously oriented. Charter schools, which can be public or private, are run outside the usual school district bureaucracy, while tuition vouchers use tax dollars to pay private, often religious, school tuition.

 

DeVos has been called “the four-star general of the pro-voucher movement,” and she once compared her work in education reform to a biblical battleground where she wants to “advance God’s Kingdom.”

 

Although Michigan voters in 2000 rejected a tuition voucher proposal backed by DeVos and her family to the tune of more than $5.7 million, she responded by taking her crusade to a national battlefield. Through several front organizations, including the American Federation for Children, the American Education Reform Council, the Alliance for School Choice, All Children Matter, and the Great Lakes Education Project, she helped to bankroll several pro-voucher or pro-charter school efforts around the country that managed to succeed.

 

DeVos’s greatest successes have come with charter schools. In 1994, she and her family were crucial supporters of a measure that allowed numerous state entities in Michigan to issue charters to schools that could then get tax dollars. As a result, Michigan today has a large number of charter schools, and also the most lax oversight. In fact, in 2011 DeVos’ Great Lakes Education Project lobbied for a law that further deregulated Michigan’s charter schools. The result was a flood of new for-profit management companies, so that about 80 percent of Michigan charter schools are run by for-profits, much higher than anywhere else in the country.

 

But all that profit-making is leaving children behind, especially in Detroit, where more students are in charter schools than traditional ones. By 2015, a federal review of Michigan charter schools found an “unreasonably high” number of them were among the worst-performing 5% of public schools statewide. In June 2016, a withering exposé by Kate Zernike in The New York Times concluded that the almost total lack of state oversight had created a system with “lots of choice, with no good choice.”

 

But when the Republican-controlled state senate voted to require charters to meet the same sort of minimal requirements as public schools, the DeVos family fought back with a lobbying effort so intense legislators complained about it. Five days after the Michigan State Senate reversed its vote, the DeVoses began doling out $1,450,000 to GOP lawmakers over a seven-week period.

 

Betsy DeVos has also been involved in supporting the arts. DeVos was appointed by President George W. Bush to the board of directors of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2004, serving until 2010. During that time, she and her husband provided funding to create the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland, which teaches arts managers and boards how to fundraise and manage their institutions. Since 2009, she has sponsored ArtPrize, an international art competition held in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

 

Betsy and Dick DeVos have two daughters and two sons: Rick, Elissa, Andrea and Ryan. They own a yacht, as well as mansions in Grand Rapids, Ada, and Holland, Michigan; and Vero Beach, Florida. The compound in Ada generated a bit of controversy when the Detroit News reported that the couple had tried to avoid paying property taxes—which go to public schools—on it by claiming it was their “100% principal” residence, which it was not. 

-Matt Bewig

 

How Trump’s Education Nominee Bent Detroit to Her Will on Charter Schools (by Kate Zernike, New York Times)

Trump taps Betsy DeVos, school choice leader, for education secretary (by Todd Spangler and Lori Higgins, Detroit Free Press)

Trump picks Betsy DeVos for education secretary post (by Chad Livengood, Jonathan Oosting and Michael Gerstein, Detroit News)

Betsy DeVos and her big-giving relatives: Family qualifies as GOP royalty (by Jack Noland and Anna Massoglia, OpenSecrets)

Trump's Billionaire Education Secretary Has Been Trying to Gut Public Schools for Years: Meet Betsy DeVos, the anti-union, pro-voucher surprise nominee (by Kristina Rizga, Mother Jones).

Michigan spends $1B on charter schools but fails to hold them accountable (by Jennifer Dixon, Detroit Free Press) 

more
King, John B.
Previous Secretary

John B. King Jr., who was brought into the Department of Education as an adviser to fill the role of Deputy Secretary, has been named by President Barack Obama to be acting Secretary of Education upon the departure in late 2015 of Arne Duncan.

 

King was born in Brooklyn in 1975. His commitment to education comes naturally; both his parents were educators. His father was the first African-American principal in Brooklyn. His mother, Adalinda, was born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York as a child. She was a guidance counselor who met King’s father when she was taking a graduate class from him.

 

King’s parents died when he was young. His mother died at age 48 of a heart attack when King was 8 and his father shortly thereafter began to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. King was running the household until he was 12, when his father died at age 79. He was first sent to live with a half-brother, which didn’t work out, and then enrolled at the Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, boarding school. He was kicked out from there, but found stability living in New Jersey with his father’s brother (who had been an officer in the Tuskegee Airmen) and his family.

 

King went to Harvard, earning a BA in government and an MA in the teaching of social studies at Columbia University Teachers College. He has subsequently earned a JD from Yale Law School, and a Doctor of Education degree in educational administrative practice from Columbia.

 

He taught school, first in Puerto Rico, then in Boston for three years. In 1999, King helped found the Roxbury Prep charter school in one of Boston’s poorer neighborhoods, designing the curriculum and structure of the school. After five years, he took his concept to New York, where he helped found Uncommon Schools, a network of charter schools putting into practice the techniques he used at Roxbury Prep. The organization now oversees schools in New York City, Troy, Upstate New York, New Jersey, and Boston.

 

King has said his idea of an ideal school is one with a rigorous curriculum, excellent teachers, a longer school day and a longer school year.  He also wants a focus on data to give teachers a picture of how their students are performing.

 

King began to be noticed as an innovator in the world of public education. In 2009, he was made senior deputy education commissioner for the state of New York. The following year, he was courted by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to become superintendent of the troubled Newark, New Jersey, school system, to which Zuckerberg was making a $100 million donation. Then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat, and Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were also part of the effort to turn around Newark’s schools within five years. King declined the offer, believing it would take longer than five years and that politics might get in the way of the plan.

 

Instead, King took over as New York’s education commissioner in 2011. He ran into trouble when he instituted Common Core learning standards at the same time he put in place teacher evaluations. He ran into pushback from the teachers’ union, which pointed out that it was unfair to evaluate teachers when they were still grappling with a new curriculum.

 

King’s biggest triumph as education commissioner was obtaining $700 million in Race to the Top grants for New York’s schools from the federal government. The grants were awarded for promoting charter schools, changing the way teacher evaluations were done, overhauling teacher preparation programs, and committing to shared learning standards.

 

King was brought to Washington in early 2015 as a senior adviser delegated the duties of the job of Deputy Secretary of Education under Duncan. The title enabled King to avoid the process of being confirmed by the Senate, which has been increasingly difficult since the Republicans assumed control. There he oversaw preschool-through-12th-grade education policies, programs and strategic initiatives, and department operations.

 

His elevation to the top spot in the Education Department was being handled in much the same manner. Since Republicans had dragged their feet in approving even the most routine nominations until recently, Obama sidestepped the process when he could. After Duncan steps down at the end of the year, King will serve as secretary in an acting role.

 

King’s wife, Melissa Steel King, is a senior research scientist at the Center for Human Services Research at the State University of New York, Albany. They have two daughters, Amina and Mareya.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Charter Founder Is Named Education Commissioner (by Sharon Otterman, New York Times)

Education: The Difference Between Hope and Despair (by John King, Huffington Post)

The Real Story: Why Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 Million Gift to Newark Schools Was Announced on Oprah’s Show (by Valerie Strauss, Washington Post)

more