HOUSE AND SENATE PASS BUDGET BLUEPRINTS: Plans Would Increase Spending by More than $20 Billion Over the President's Budget: Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed similar versions of a budget resolution that would significantly increase spending over the amount proposed in the president's budget. The House version would set an overall discretionary spending limit of $1.014 trillion, $25.4 billion more than the president's $987.6 billion, while the Senate would increase spending by $21.8 billion. These overall discretionary spending totals are the crucial part of the budget resolution, as they are the only numbers that are binding on the appropriations committees.
SPELLINGS ANNOUNCES NEW PLAN TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN "SCHOOLS ON FIRE" AND "THOSE WITH A SMOLDER": In an appearance on January 7 marking the sixth anniversary of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), President Bush said that he had instructed U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to move forward on reforms that she can do through the administrative process, should Congress fail to reauthorize NCLB. On March 18, while stressing that she continues to work with members of Congress to reauthorize NCLB, Spellings announced a new pilot program that would allow states to differentiate between underperforming schools that are in need of dramatic interventions and those that are closer to meeting NCLB goals.
NATIONALIZE THE SCHOOLS (...A LITTLE)!: Report Calls for National Standards, Increased Federal Role in Education: The nation's current structure of local control is negatively impacting the country's educational system, according to Nationalize the Schools (... a Little)!, a new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP). The report calls for national standards, an increased federal role, and a lesser role for local school boards and teacher unions.
A NATION STILL AT RISK: Report Declares that America's Seventeen-Year-Olds Lack Knowledge of Historical Events, Literary Accomplishments: Twenty-five years ago, the federal government's A Nation at Risk declared that America's students were underperforming academically compared to both their earlier counterparts and their international contemporaries. These findings sparked school reform efforts in the areas of curricular content and expectations for achievement, among others. But today, in light of the focus on high-stakes testing centered on basic skills, U.S. seventeen-year-olds learn little about literature and history.