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Archive for the ‘ARRA’ Category

Laura Tyson and Glenn Hubbard, former chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisors under U.S.Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush respectively, debate about the need for a second stimulus. What do you think? (Source: Reuters)

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Are educators against Obama’s school plan? The answer is yes according to a New York Times article.

In California for instance, lawmakers, teacher unions and educators have clashed so much over the changes to the Race to the Top program in the past few months that state officials doubt they have a chance of receiving the much needed money from Washington.  At the center of the debate is Carlos Garcia, the superintendent for San Francisco schools. He believes that the standards are too stringent and the plan is nothing more than a “strong-armed approach” to the Bush administration’s NCLB.  Read more.

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The U.S. Department of Education has produced a series of videos that claim to demonstrate how several school districts have turned around low-performing schools by using the four models recommended by the U.S Department of Education’s $4 billion Title I School Improvement Grant program. The videos consist of interviews with school administrators, parents, teachers, and students discussing the dramatic changes in student achievement and overall school improvements. The five schools that the Department highlights in the videos are George Hall Elementary School in Mobile, Alabama, Pickett Middle School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Hamilton County School District, Locke Senior High School in Los Angeles, California, Harvard School of Excellence and James Johnson Public School in Chicago, Illinois.

Funds for these school improvements are available through the Title I School Improvement Grant Program. Local school districts compete for the funds while classifying what they want to change, and then determining which of four models is most appropriate for their particular needs:

  • Transformation Model: Replace the principal and improve the school through comprehensive curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.
  • Turnaround Model: Replace the principal, screen existing school staff, and rehire no more than half the teachers; adopt a new governance structure; and improve the school through curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.
  • Restart Model: Convert a school or close it and re-open it as a charter school or under an education management organization.
  • School Model: Close the school and send the students to higher-achieving schools in the district.

In total, 19 states have received School Improvement Grant funds in efforts to turnaround their lowest-performing schools. In spring 2010, $3.5 billion will be made available to states for school turnarounds. This is available through the Department of Education’s 2009 budget and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Watch the Title I School Improvement Grant videos and let NSSEA know your thoughts and for more information about the Title I School Improvement Grant Program, visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/index.html.

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It’s tax season and according to an article by MSNBC.com, small business owners could see some relief regarding their 2009 taxes. MSNBC.com spoke with Jean Baxley, a tax attorney in Washington, DC, about the latest tax breaks implemented by the Obama Administration under The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

Here are some of the breaks that the article mentions:

First year expensing:
Under the amended Sec. 179 deduction, small businesses can now expense up to $250,000 of the cost of their property and equipment that was put into use during 2009, all at once instead of using depreciation to find the cost of equipment and machinery purchases.

First-year bonus depreciation
The ARRA made “bonus” depreciation available on top of regular depreciation, so small businesses that were not profitable can now immediately depreciate 50 percent of the cost of any office-related property that they used in 2009.

General business credit
If small businesses are operating at a loss, then bonus depreciation is not going to be beneficial, so the Recovery act now allows businesses to claim a higher limit on their refundable credits instead if they want.

Read the article, “10 Tax Breaks You Need to Know About” to find out the other seven tax breaks and let NSSEA know your thoughts!

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Many states are currently in the “hot seat” for how they are using the federal stimulus money. States are finding themselves defending their actions to the public and to the Department of Education. The department’s deputy inspector general, Mary Mitchelson issued a memorandum singling out various states for undermining the school improvement purposes of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The inspector mentions that states are using stimulus funds to plug up budget holes instead of driving real reform in schools. Let NSSEA know what you think! Read the article and tell us your thoughts.

 

States Stung by Criticism on Use of Stimulus Aid
By Catherine Gewertz, Education Week

Several states are defending their use of federal stimulus money after receiving an official scolding from the U.S. Department of Education’s internal watchdog. The memorandum issued by the department’s inspector general pointed to Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania as examples of how states are undermining the school improvement aims of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in their use of fiscal-stabilization funds to avert or minimize cuts to their  education budgets. Read more 

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