HOUSE CONSERVATIVES PUSH FOR OFFSETS TO SPENDING ON HURRICANE RELIEF: Education Programs On the Table: In the first two weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated much of the Gulf Coast, Congress passed $62.3 billion in disaster relief through a pair of supplemental spending bills that are widely viewed as the first down payment for rebuilding efforts that could cost up to $200 billion. As these numbers begin to add up, many conservatives in Congress are asking for offsets, or spending cuts, for this unexpected spending. As a result, existing programs under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Education, as well as those of other agencies, could see cuts.
THE MILLION STUDENT MARCH (OUT THE DOOR): U.S. Secretary of Education Says One Million Students Drop Out Every Year, Costing the Nation $260 Billion: When President Bush chose to fund the lion's share of his high school initiative by diverting funds from popular programs such as vocational education, GEAR UP, and TRIO, the proposal was widely seen as dead on arrival on Capitol Hill. While funding for the president's initiative is still on life support, the need for improvement in our nation's high schools remains very much alive, as U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings reminded audiences in her Back-to-School Address on September 21. She reiterated the theme in her testimony before a House Education and the Workforce Committee's hearing, "Closing the Achievement Gap in America's Schools: The No Child Left Behind Act."
SLIP, SLIDING AWAY: International Report Finds "Cause for Concern" in United States's Educational System as Other Countries Move Ahead: The international educational advantage the United States has long held over other countries is beginning to slip, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). According to the report, Education at a Glance 2005, the United States has fallen behind in many educational indicators because of its inability to improve at the rate of other countries. As a result, the nation continues to do well as a knowledge economy-partly as a function of its size and far superior higher education system-but it no longer dominates on all measures as it once did.
LOW-INCOME AND MINORITY STUDENTS LEFT BEHIND: Analysis of Indiana State Tests Shows That Scores Decline and Achievement Gap Widens as Students Enter Higher Grades: The percentage of middle and high school students who pass both the English/language arts and mathematics components of the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus (ISTEP+) have increased since the 1998-99 school year, but significant achievement gaps exist between Asian and white students and their Hispanic and African-American classmates, according to a new report from Indiana University's Center for Evaluation and Education Policy (CEEP). What's more, the report, Is the Achievement Gap in Indiana Narrowing?, also found a similar achievement gap between low-income students and the rest of their classmates.
STRIVING READERS UPDATE: Eligibility Criteria Expanded, Additional Q&A Sessions Planned: On September 30, the U.S. Department of Education modified the eligibility criteria for the Striving Readers program so state education agencies are eligible to apply for the program on behalf of one or more eligible school districts. It also made clarifications about the grades that must be targeted and students who must be served by the program's school-level and targeted-intervention components. More information is available on the department's Striving Readers website, linked below.