• By John Bailey
    January 3, 2012
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    September 15, 2010
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    September 13, 2010
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    August 23, 2010
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    August 16, 2010
  • By John Bailey
    August 12, 2010

    Lots of reactions to the passage of the $10 billion EduJobs package, even making the front page of Drudge for a few hours.  

    White House Follow-up:  DPC Director, Melody Barnes, took to the White House blog to talk about the bill.  The website includes a handy map (to the right) with CEA's estimates of how many jobs will be saved.  

    Funds Can Be Spent Next Year: "Assistant U.S. Education Secretary Carmel Martin told reporters a pre-existing law to the one signed Tuesday by President Obama gives schools the legal right to carry over the money. “They technically have until Sept. 2012 to spend the funds,’’ Martin said. She stressed, however, the new law requires all states to maintain their current financial commitment to education." (Editors note:  Weflagged this a couple of weeks ago when CBO's score estimated that a significant portion of these funds won't be spent until 2012).  

    ED Issues Noticed of Proposed Information Request:  They're estimating it will take States  107 hours to comply with the reporting requests.

    WSJ Editorial Board:  "Also, in each state, next year's spending on elementary and secondary education as a percentage of total state revenues must be equal to or greater than the previous year's level.   Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi did the math and figured out his state will be worse off. Mr. Barbour says the bill will force his state "to rewrite its current year [fiscal 2011] budget. Preliminary estimates of the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration show that we will now have to spend between $50-100 million of state funds—funds that must be taken away from public safety, human services, mental health and other state priorities and given to education—in order for an additional $98 million of federal funds to be granted to education. There is no justification for the federal government hijacking state budgets, but that is exactly what Congress has done."

    DrudgeUsing Food Stamps to Pay the Bill:  "But the bill also requires that $12 billion be stripped from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, to help fund the new bill, prompting some Democrats to cringe at the notion of cutting back on one necessity to pay for another. The federal assistance program currently helps 41 million Americans."

    Reporters Are Puzzled:  "Reporters also wondered on the EWA K-12 listserve about the jobs saved. Dave Murray of the Grand Rapids Press noted that the estimates of how many jobs would be saved went from 4,100 to 4,700 while the $318 million remained the same. Ben Botkin, education and politics reporter for the Times-News in Twin Falls, said the Idaho state schools superintendent downplayed the federal government's estimates."

    NCTQ Email:  "First, we're not convinced that districts nationwide need the $10 billion set aside in the bill to avoid teacher layoffs. It's already been reported that the early, hyperbolic predictions--300,000 teachers will lose their jobs!--were way off the mark. Financially under the gun, many districts have found ways to avert layoffs. New York City, for example, instituted a "cost-of-living" wage freeze. Other districts are asking teachers to make salary and benefits concessions--by contributing more to their health insurance plans, for instance. Not only are these sound long-term fiscal policies; they're in synch with what most white-collar professions are already doing.

    Kati Haycock Talks About the Hateful Tradeoff: "Though many in the education community are celebrating last week's Senate vote for the so-called Edujobs bill, I can't find any joy in it. In fact, I am shaken and ashamed because, to pay for it, the Senate snatched $11.9 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program."

    Mitch Stewart, Director of Organizing for America, sends out an email to supporters: "I want to thank the OFA supporters who stood with House Democrats as they raced back to Washington this week to cast a vote on a state assistance bill. I'm proud to say they passed the bill yesterday and the President immediately signed it into law. ...  Republicans called this bill a "bailout" and a "handout." They called the police officers, firefighters, and teachers whose jobs were on the line "special interests." And nearly every House Republican voted no. ... 
    But Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats did the right thing, reminding us again of what we're fighting for in the upcoming elections. When voters cast their ballots in November, it's up to us to make sure they remember who's fighting for them."

    chartoftheDayThe Big Pictures Goes All Macro:  Bloomberg's Chart of the Day shows the growth in federal payouts to state and local governments in the past half century:  "They have increased almost three times as fast as overall spending during the period, according to data compiled by the Commerce Department. Funds were provided at a $525 billion annual rate in the second quarter, a 33 percent jump from two years ago. Most of the money went to pay health-care expenses under the Medicaid insurance program and to cover educational costs. . . . The federal government provided $131.25 of state and local aid last quarter for every dollar spent 50 years ago. For total expenditures, the second-quarter figure was only $45.75, as the chart illustrates.”

    Joshua Green at the Atlantic:  "But only by the occluded standards of contemporary Washington could this aid package be considered a victory. What began three months ago as a $50 billion emergency spending bill limped to the president's desk at half that size and was largely paid for -- "offset'' in the clinical terminology of the budget -- by cutting $12 billion from the food stamp program. In other words, a measure designed to help one group struggling in the recession came at the expense of another that is even worse off -- and growing rapidly."

    Randi Weingarten:  "We can't "race to the top" if the bottom is falling out for school districts from coast to coast. The stakes are high and the situation is dire. For every layoff, for each day that's cut from a school week, for every course or program that's dropped, children are hurt."



    More on our EduJobs coverage here.  

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  • By John Bailey
    August 10, 2010

    EduJobs passed today by a vote of 247-161, pretty much along party lines.  Map of the votes here. Or vote totals by Party, State, Baby boomer status, and Astrological sign  (I wonder what Gemini's have against teachers...)

    Upon passage, Secretary Duncan released a statement, excepts below:

    “With the support of the jobs bill, these educators will be helping our children learn instead of looking for work,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “This is the right thing to do for our children, for our teachers, and for our economy.”..

    In order to ensure that states receive funding as quickly as possible, the Department will streamline the application process so that states can submit applications within days.The Department will award funding to states within two weeks of their submission of an approvable application

    Interesting debate on how many teachers this will actually help.  ED estimates 161,000.  New America suggests147,000.  Marguerite Roza thinks it is probably closer to 100,000.  The Rockefeller Institute of Government alsopoints out, "For the nation as a whole, state government employment is down 0.8 percent from its post-recession peak, and local government employment is down 1.4 percent from the post-recession peak. By contrast, private sector employment is down 6.8 percent."

    Finally, it is worth noting that our Education Insiders predicted back in July (the survey closed on July 16) that an EduJobs bill would pass before the beginning of the school year. Final passage was far from certain.  The package was stripped from several bills, added to others only to be removed again.  It was declared dead several times and there were challenges with the legislative calendar, as evidenced by Speaker Pelosi calling a special session late last week to pass the bill today.  

    But that's the point of Education Insider.  To regularly pulse those most plugged into the process to get their collective sense of where policy and bills like this are headed.  Learn more about how the Education Insider subscription can help you stay ahead of the game by visiting here  

    EduJobs Insider



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  • By John Bailey
    August 10, 2010

    The healthcare and education sectors are remarkably similar in a number of respects. Both are fragmented systems - there are more than 5,815 hospitals, 650,000 physicians and nearly 2.5 million nurses. The K12 sector has nearly 15,000 school districts and more than 3.4 million teachers.  Government spending is well over a trillion dollars in both sectors. Both have federal laws protecting individual privacy of sensitive information (HIPAA and FERPA).   And each of these sectors is struggling to develop data systems that drive informed decision making and spot troubling trends before they become epidemics (be it a influenza outbreak or a dropout crisis).  

    But the approaches to building these data systems couldn't be more different. For the last ten years, education policymakers have focused on building state data systems that link disparate data elements reported by school districts.  More often than not, these are not collected in real time but through monthly, quarterly, or end of year reports.  In most instances, the data is intended to support policymaker needs to make decisions about funding, comply with regulations, monitor program effectiveness, or support accountability systems.  A major constraint in building these systems is that they have to be designed to the lowest common denominator, meaning that most districts have the capacity to report the element or calculation.  As a result, state systems tend to evolve slowly as they wait for district capacity to catch up. 

    Instead of this top-down approach, the healthcare sector is trying a bottoms-up strategy.  The centerpiece is not a state data system but rather the concept of personal electronic medical record (EHR).  These EHRs provide doctors with instant access to a patient's medical history, lab test results, MRI/CAT scans, prescribed medications, and allergies.   These records can be shared electronically with other specialists or doctors throughout the country.  Many systems also have the capability of transmitting orders electronically so they not only arrive faster, but with reduced errors.  To assist policy makers and researchers, EHRs can also strip personally identifiable information and share data with regional and national health information networks. 

    The Bush Administration promoted EHR systems as a way of reducing medical errors (which cause as many as 195,000 deaths a year) and reducing healthcare costs by as much as 20 percent due to increased efficiencies and reduced duplicative procedures.  EHR implementation was also seen as a way to help researchers sift through volumes of patient data in hopes of accelerating new treatments and spotting potential problematic trends and outbreaks.

    More importantly, EHRs were seen as a way of boosting the quality of healthcare.  The New York Times magazine published a great article describing how data could improve health outcomes, but how most doctors still make decisions based more on intuition.  It is worth reading the entire piece but a quick excerpt makes the point:   

    Still, the overall record of decision-making approaches that are based mostly on intuition is far weaker than the record of decisions based mostly on data. To give just one example, an article in the journal Psychological Assessment, analyzing dozens of studies that compared clinical judgments with data-based diagnoses, found that clinical judgments were better in only a few instances. The two approaches were equally accurate about half of the time, but the data-based diagnoses substantially outperformed human judgment in nearly half of the studies. 


    Last month, the Obama administration announced an important next phase in the effort to provide every American with an EHR.  The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a set of regulations which sets in motion a five-year effort to invest $20 billion of stimulus funds through incentive programs to accelerate the adoption and "meaningful use" of EHRs.  Dr. David Blumenthal, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, has a great summary of this complicated regulation over at the NEJM.   

    The basic idea is an escalating set of measures that phase in over the next five years based on desired health outcomes (see graphic at end of post).  For example, doctors will initially need to use EHRs to record patients’ demographic data; height, weight and blood pressure; their medications; their allergies; and their smoking behavior.  Other performance measures require physicians to transmit a certain percentage of their prescriptions electronically.  

    Attached to these measures are incentive payments.  Beginning in 2011, a doctor can receive EHR incentive payments of up to $44,000 under Medicare and $63,750 under Medicaid, while hospitals can receive as much as $6 million.  Early adopters will be rewarded with higher incentive payments while the late adopters will receive lower payments.  These financial "carrots" end in 2015 at which point a "stick" of financial penalties kicks in for physicians who are not meaningful users of EHRs. 

    This approach could be a model for education.  After years of focusing on state data systems, it may be time for education policy to shift support to individual student data records supported with more robust local data systems.  Students would have a personal electronic education record (EER) that travels with them from school to school.  Educators would have instant access to the student’s entire education history, including the interactions and experiences with outside specialists - be it an SES provider, a speech therapist, or a student's online AP teacher.  These EERs would form the basis for school and district data systems which could analyze the records to inform district decisions, spot troubling patterns, recommend individual and group interventions, and reduce the number of "education errors" by eliminating duplicative tests or assignments.  

    Just as in healthcare, data can be stripped of personally identifiable information and then shared with various state and research databases, much in the same way the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) is serving a similar purpose in healthcare. Such an approach could help populate state data systems with better data on a more frequent basis. 

    Meaningful use metrics could also be developed so that we’re not just measuring the purchase of the technology, but the actual use of it.  Too often we simply look for the presence of technology in the education system and not if and how it is being used.  So a set of objectives linked to specific education outcomes constituting "meaningful use" of local data systems would be important.   

    The funding for such an effort would not be insignificant.  After all, the Administration estimates it will cost $23 billion to provide every American with an EHR.  So it is worth asking the question if the $10 billion for the EduJobs bill might have been better spent establishing a meaningful use incentive program to give every student and their families an EER.  This would build on one of the Administration’s core priorities around data systems.  It would also create the environment and platform upon which a host of additional applications and services could be built.  If the EHR meaningful use program was used as a model, then teachers could be eligible for a “bonus” payment if they use EERs and data systems in a meaningful way.   And it would still accomplish the same goal of EduJobs in terms of providing short term stimulus funding to help preserve and create jobs.  In many respects, such a program would be even more desirable from a stimulus standpoint since it would create jobs not just for teachers but also in the private sector as technology entrepreneurs race to meet demand.   But more importantly, just as EHRs are intended to help improve healthcare outcomes, EERs could to dramatically improve education outcomes.



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  • By John Bailey
    August 10, 2010

    Lots of discussion on the EduJobs bill slated for a vote today.  The President just delivered remarks in the Rose Garden on the subject which I'll post once they're available.  In the meantime:

    The Quick and the ED:  "The $10 billion fund will save an estimated 138,800 teacher jobs, or a little over $72,000 per job. Because the funding is based on a formula, the amount of money per job saved varies by state. My home state of Iowa will receive $96,490,048 to save an estimated 1,500 teacher jobs, or $64,326.70 per job saved. For some perspective, according to the Iowa Department of Education’s 2009 Condition of Education, the average Iowa teacher makes $49,664."

    Organizing for Obama: Sends out an email from a teacher in Pennsylvania: "Without federal help, a lot of teachers like me -- as well as other public servants like police officers and firefighters -- will lose their jobs. Maybe you know some of these people. Maybe it's you.   Democrats in Congress are trying to do the right thing, proposing emergency assistance for states to preserve more than 100,000 jobs like mine. They're racing back to the Capitol for an emergency session this week to pass this bill and save these jobs. But Republicans are standing in the way. Minority Leader John Boehner is calling the bill a "payoff" to "special interests" and attacking every Democrat who is fighting for us. But I'm not a special interest. I'm a teacher."

    Mike Petrilli responds to her:  "Nobody wants to lose their job in a downturn, but it’s happened to millions of private-sector employees over the past two years. Many workers have also seen their pay cut and benefits trimmed. Teachers have been rather fortunate; not only have most of their jobs been protected by federal aid, but many are actually receiving pay raises during this difficult time. And their health care benefits and pensions remain worlds better than what most Americans receive. It’s inevitable that school systems are going to need to learn to do more with less. Here’s the good news: your job could easily be saved if your union leaders were willing to accept some modest concessions. (Even a salary freeze might do the trick.)  But when teachers demand job protections, generous benefits, and salary increases in the midst of a recession…well, that’s expecting special treatment, indeed."

    State & Local EmploymentEducation Intelligence Agency:  "A few weeks ago, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government ginned up a neat little report, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, on the nation's job situation. Figure 1 is a depiction of the change in employment since the start of the current recession. The blue, yellow and green lines are the public sector. The red line is the private sector.  There's more. After 30 months of recession, local government education employment (the category where most teachers and support employees reside) has yet to approach a one percent decline.

    Politico: State aid bill a gamble for Dems: "Even though party leaders expect that approval will be a slam-dunk, some early responses from rank-and-file Democrats have raised red flags about the optics of returning to a special session to vote on more spending — even if it’s framed as saving teachers’ jobs."

    Liberals vow to back state aid, but restore food-stamp funding:  "Nearly half of the state aid bill's cost is being offset by taking $12 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the official name for the food-stamps program. The bill finds those savings by ending in 2014 a stimulus program that has increased food-stamp levels. While House Democrats say they'll support the jobs measure, liberal members said they're doing so over qualms about using funds that would otherwise go to people who need the help."


    4:00pm Update:

    Jay Greene Responds to OFA:  

    Rep. Miller:  

    "Almost 600 teachers are missing from classrooms in Solano and Contra Costa counties this year because of the recession and state and local budget cuts,” Miller said Monday. “The legislation I will vote for tomorrow can’t bring them all back, but it will provide emergency funding to help teachers return to the classroom. This bill provides critical lifeline for teachers, their students, and urgent services across the country.”  

    Rep. Kline:  

     "Spending another $10 billion we do not have will not improve public education or protect the very best teachers. Earlier this year, Education Secretary Arne Duncan told us ‘Today, the status quo clearly isn’t good enough.’ Yet the status quo is exactly what this $10 billion will perpetuate...

    “Schools will continue to operate on ‘last hired, first fired’ policies that ignore student achievement when deciding which teachers to keep in the classroom. These dollars are not targeted based on jobs at risk or student needs – this is nothing more than an across-the-board inflation of state spending...

    “Spending another $10 billion we do not have will not balance state budgets or bolster our economy. Because of major increases in the number of school personnel in recent years, states are operating education budgets they cannot afford. At best, inflating state education spending for another year will kick the can down the road – merely postponing the tough decisions and allowing states to overextend themselves for another year...

    Excerpts from POTUS Remarks: 

    It’s one thing for states to get their fiscal houses in order and tighten their belts like families across America -- because families have been doing it, there’s no reason that states can’t do it, too.  That’s a welcome thing.  But we can’t stand by and do nothing while pink slips are given to the men and women who educate our children or keep our communities safe.  That doesn’t make sense.  And that’s why a significant part of the economic plan that we passed last year provided relief for struggling states -- relief that has already prevented hundreds of thousands of layoffs. ...

    Now, this proposal is fully paid for, in part by closing tax loopholes that encourage corporations to ship American jobs overseas.  So it will not add to our deficit.  And the money will only go toward saving the jobs of teachers and other essential professionals. ...

    It should not be a partisan issue.  I heard the Republican Leader in the House say the other day that this is a special interest bill.  And I suppose if America’s children and the safety of our communities are your special interests, then it is a special interest bill.  But I think those interests are widely shared throughout this country -- a challenge that affects parents, children and citizens in almost every community in America should not be a Democratic problem or a Republican problem.  It is an American problem. ...

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  • By John Bailey
    August 4, 2010

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to reconvene House members next Monday or Tuesday to vote on a $26 billion package of state aid package which includes the $10 billion Edujobs bill.  

    Flypaper talks about the cuts to food stamps to pay for the program. 

    Politics K12 points out that the sooner they pass the bill, the sooner the funds are available to schools.  But as wepointed out earlier this week, CBO found that billions won't be spent until the next school year. 

    Also worth noting that our Insiders predicted last month that an EduJobs bill would pass.  



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