government funding

government funding

President Obama Announces New Improvements for Head Start Program

National Head Start Alphabet Block LogoPresident Obama has been an advocate for improving the quality of education that children in the USA receive for years, and now, he has taken another step in this direction. On Tuesday, he announced some changes that are going to be made to the Head Start program. This program allows children from low-income families to attend preschool.

“This is the first time in history that Head Start programs will truly be held accountable for performance,” Obama said during a speech.

It is somewhat strange that Head Start has not been held accountable to the same standards as other  education programs, such as No Child Left Behind and other reform efforts. Under the current rules, preschools can continue to receive funding from Head Start even if they are not revising and improving their programs.

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Congress Makes Temporary Budget Cuts to Education Programs

Fears loom over educators’ heads this week as the possibility of permanent budget cuts to several education programs comes closer to a reality. Over a dozen of high-profile education programs were cut from a stopgap spending measure after President Obama signed a two-week funding bill on March 2.

The bill, which extends to March 18, plans to keep the government operating while Republicans and Democrats try to come to an agreement in spending for the rest of the fiscal year.

Programs, like Teach for America, Even Start and Striving Readers, took heavy blows to their funding after Republicans insisted on cutting the Department of Education’s budget by nearly $750 million. The department’s most current arbitrary budget sits at $46.8 billion.

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Thousands Wait-Listed for Head Start

national-head-startHead Start is a federally-funded program that gives low-income families the oppertunity to enroll their children in free pre-kindergarten programs. Students who attend pre-K classes are shown to benefit on many developmental levels and are 35 percent less likely to fail a grade later on in elementary school. Private preschools can cost as much as $10,000 per year.

There are about 49,000 Head Start classrooms across the U.S., but thousands of children are on waiting lists. “My friend’s son got in,” said Lamont Butler, a single father. “At 4, he can already spell his name, do simple math, and he isn’t so shy any more.” But Butler is struggling to get his 3-year-old daughter enrolled. Caring for her makes it difficult for him to find work, and he worries that she’s missing out on the benefits that others are receiving from this early education.

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Race to the Top Awards $3.4 Billion in Grants

race-to-the-topAll of America has been anxiously awaiting the U.S. Education Department’s announcement regarding the winners of the second and final round of the Race to the Top competition.

Thirty-five states and Washington D.C. all submitted applications that were then narrowed down to 19 finalists a couple of months ago.

CNN.com released the news via twitter that the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island are the lucky recipients of the contest prize. Read the rest of this entry »



What is the Race to the Top Fund?

department of education

UPDATE [1/27/11]: President Obama discussed the success of Race to the Top in his State of the Union address on January 25th. “Race to the Top in the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning…and Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that’s more flexible and focused on what’s best for our kids.” Since the program’s initiation, it has help 25,000 schools nationwide and 13.6 million students, according to White House statistics.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the Race to the Top program. Which states have already applied for funding? Which states are not going to apply? Is it too political? Is it expecting too much of teachers? What exactly is it? The Race to the Top program is a $4 billion grant program created by the Department of Education and signed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

It was created to encourage states to assess and improve students’ education and performance. It is also intended to enable schools to hire and keep high-quality teachers. States must apply for the funding, and if they qualify, they could receive up to $700 million to improve their schools.

States are evaluated on several criteria. The biggest factor is if they have “a comprehensive and coherent reform agenda.” The quality of the teachers and having common standards are also factors used during the evaluation process.

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