The House Democrats released an outline of their stimulus package a few hours ago. The big items for education: $13 billion more for Title I (doubling the appropriation for that program); $13 billion more for IDEA (more than doubling that one); $14 billion for k-12 school construction (plus $25 million for charters); $1 billion for technology; $250 million for state data systems; and $200 million more for the Teacher Incentive Fund (to support pay-for-performance programs). And then the REALLY big item: a $79 billion state bailout fund, of which $39 billion must go to education (k-12 and higher ed), though much of the rest could go to the schools, too, at the discretion of the states.

That puts you in the neighborhood of $80 billion for k-12 education, as rumored yesterday (and as Checker, Rick Hess, and I speculated last week).

It's not clear to me whether these amounts are all to be appropriated immediately, or would be spread out over several years. But keep in mind: Uncle Sam currently spends about $40 billion a year on the schools, so the House is talking about...

Our favorite podcast hosts, Mike and Rick, will be discussing President Bush's education legacy at an American Enterprise Institute-hosted event in February. Take a look at the agenda:

Thursday, February 5, 2009, 1:00-2:30 p.m.

Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, AEI

1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036

Please register for this event online at

With a new administration taking up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and George W. Bush's centerpiece No Child Left Behind Act up for reauthorization, Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy studies at AEI, and Michael J. Petrilli, vice president of national programs and policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, consider the education legacy of the Bush administration in their forthcoming article "Left at the Altar." They note that the administration found common cause with progressive reformers by pursuing ambitious policies focused on narrowing achievement gaps-but often at the expense of its own conservative principles. They also find that the po litical environment created in the past eight years presents not only challenges, but also surprising opportunities for reform.

Petrilli and Hess will be joined at this event by...

That's what it's starting to look like, at least if the rumors swirling around Washington have any merit. While I strongly doubt that Arne Duncan will put Wendy Kopp, Jon Schnur, and Andy Rotherham in his 1, 2, and 3 spots , it's conceivable that the reform crowd will win the "personnel is policy" game (just not by a landslide). But even more interesting is the news that the "stimulus" package will include an $80 billion fund for education--on top of the $100 billion or so of state bailout funds that will find their way to local school coffers. This sounds like the "education community's" dream come true. It's like fully funding NCLB, IDEA, and then some, all in one fell swoop.

So the reformers get to make "policy" for the next four years. That's small potatoes compared to the stimulus-driven federal largesse, which has the potential to retard reform bigtime. (Reformers who doubt that are kidding themselves.)

If I ran the teachers unions and the other edu-blobby groups, I'd take this deal in a heartbeat....

Amy Fagan

I ran across an informative interview with Washington Post's Jay Mathews about his new book, Work Hard. Be Nice: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America. The book explores in depth the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) and tracks the career paths of founders Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin. The interview with Jay was conducted by Check it out!

My initial reaction to the news (here and here ) that teachers at a KIPP school in New York City have voted to unionize included several variants on four letter words. But now, with the perspective of some time, I can offer a more refined view. You have to give it to the people who work at the American Federation of Teachers. They are good at their jobs.

Remember ??the AFT's impeccably-timed plant of a New York Times story about how charter schools performed worse than traditional public schools on the National Assessment of Educational Progress? It was August 2004???August being a perfect time to catch members of the charter school community napping away their summer vacations, and 2004 being an election year with an incumbent Republican president who strongly supported charter schools. (If you don't remember this episode, you can read a whole book about it.)

And now? The incoming Democratic president is a strong charter supporter, so frontal attacks are out. Instead, go after the most prized jewel of the charter movement (KIPP) and strike right at the heart...

The news that teachers in the KIPP AMP Charter School in Brooklyn have decided to unionize shook the charter school world. In Ohio, this movement toward reconciliation between charter schools and teachers unions does not come as a complete surprise. There is movement here away from the era of ruthless charter/district competition toward more partnerships and collaboration between the sectors.

The most innovative of these efforts in the Buckeye State are voluntary and include efforts like the Dayton Early College Academy in Fordham's hometown. DECA is a free-standing charter school that has close ties to both the Dayton Public Schools (its authorizer) and to the University of Dayton (which provides much of the school's organizational and academic leadership). In Cleveland, the district and a handful of charters have, according to Catalyst Ohio, been "meeting to discuss...

In case you'd like to go to the movies today, take a cooking class, get some exercise,??or simply enjoy a long nap, here's what we can expect from the Arne Duncan confirmation hearing.

1) Roughly 70% of the time will be taken up by Senators giving their own statements, riding their own hobbyhorses, putting down their own policy markers, extolling the importance of education, and cozying up to (and/or warning) Duncan. After delivering their opening remarks (at considerable length), most Senators will leave.

2) 20% of the time will be taken up by Duncan's plain-vanilla and totally non-committal prepared statement which will break no new ground, make no commitments, start no controversies, but be full of comments about the importance of "working with" Congress on just about everything.

3) the remaining 10% will be consumed by questions from the few Senators who remain in the chamber; the gist of every reply will be?? "I'll look into that" or "I'll surely work with you on that" or "I'll get back to you on that"??from the Secretary-designate.

4) at the end, or soon after the hearing, Duncan will be handed...

The Education Gadfly

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As Amy implies below, Arne Duncan's Senate confirmation hearing was by all accounts a smashing success-if you define "success" as making no waves, upsetting no constituents, and sending no signals about the Obama Administration' intentions in the education sphere. Nor was it a honeymoon attended only by Senate Democrats; once-Secretary-of-Education Lamar Alexander told Duncan that he was Obama's "best" cabinet pick. (Take that, Hillary!) Duncan was happy to play along, with risky statements such as "never before has being smart been so cool" and "we must build upon what works and we must stop doing what doesn't work." Eventually Duncan and his boss are going to have to make decisions that will frustrate either the establishment or reform wings of the Democratic Party, but don't expect that day to come anytime soon....

Just think if this idea made its way to the k-12 system: ???A&M to base bonuses on student input???!