Archive for the ‘stimulus dollars’ Category

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The Fed unveiled a new plan to buy $600 billion of U.S. Treasurys over the next eight months, hoping to spur growth in a disappointingly slow U.S. economy. Source: The Wall Street Journal

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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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The Hechinger Report, a non-profit news organization that focuses on producing in-depth education journalism, recently asked several education experts whether we should try to reform education while in the midst of a recession.

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With the Obama administration sharply increasing federal financing to $3.5 billion this year to turnaround failing schools, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pushing to overhaul 5,000 of the nation’s 100,000 public schools in the next few years, scores of companies with little or no experience are portraying themselves as school-turnaround experts as they compete for the money, the New York Times reports.

For example: a corporation, which has run into trouble with parents and authorities in several states for its charter school management business, has now opened a school-turnaround subsidiary, and a husband-and-wife team, which specializes in teaching communication skills but never led a single school overhaul, is seeking contracts in Ohio and Virginia.

Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a nonprofit group in Washington told the New York Times that many of the new companies seem unprepared for the challenge of making over a public school, yet neither the federal government nor many state governments are organized to offer effective oversight. Read the entire article.

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A Stimulating Stimulus

By Gene Schulist, School-Pak

OK, we’ve heard all the complaints about TARP and the last stimulus package. Banks and car manufacturers have been the big winners and the rest of us are getting bupkis.

So how do we really get things moving in this country? We have to put the rest of that stimulus money to work in a way that makes a difference.

Here’s a four-step plan that offers a lot of possibilities:

Step 1. The major employers in this country are small businesses, those with 10 or less employees. They have been ignored by the administration and can be a major factor in turning things around.

In order to expand and grow, each small business should be encouraged to hire one new employee. Stimulus money would compensate the business with up to $20,000 for that new hire for one year. They also would not require Social Security or MediCare payments from either the employee or employer. Health insurance would be mandated for the new employee by the employer.

A business hiring a $30,000 per year employee would only be responsible for $10,000 of salary. Not only could this provide immediate jobs in existing small businesses but it would also encourage new start-ups, perhaps a new bakery, meat market, teacher store, etc. in small towns that could compete with those large chains.

These new jobs would generate more income tax for both federal and state governments and, at a 20 percent tax rate, would recover their initial cost within five years.

Step 2. Every citizen over the age of 18 would be issued a “gift card” of $2,000. The card could not be used to pay bills, reduce mortgages or credit card debt and could not be used for food or drug purchases (legal or illegal). It could only be used to purchase “hard goods,” such as apparel, shoes, cars, televisions, microwaves, school supplies (naturally), etc. This would stimulate consumer spending, sending the consumer spending number sky high. It would also cause business owners to add new hires.

Step 3. Many cities are faced with incredibly high unemployment, especially among minorities who may not have the job skills to compete for jobs. A federal Apprenticeship Program would be created administered locally by a consortium of construction companies and unions. The program would fund apprenticeships in carpentry, masonry, electrical, etc., focusing on central city unemployed minorities.

Step 4. Cities like Detroit have been decimated by the economy with entire blocks no longer having houses on them. An Urban Redevelopment Program would be established to rehab existing homes in blighted areas and to work with Habitat for Humanity to build new homes. These homes would be available for purchase by those who are in the Apprenticeship Program first and then to other residents of the area.

Some areas would be designated as urban farm areas where local residents could plant and grow vegetables for their own use and for sale to local restaurants and stores. DTEnergy in Detroit is currently working on this type of sustainable growth.

So the four steps would provide more jobs, immediate spending availability to really get the country growing again, a system for increased minority hiring and a way to help re-birth our cities.

I haven’t done the math on all of these but apparently there’s a lot of money that hasn’t been used as yet. So this may not add as much to the total. I also can’t take credit for all of these steps, but I feel it’s necessary to pull them together into a cohesive program. Let’s get the country rolling again.

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As states compete for $5 million in school reform grant money, President Barack Obama is using the Race to the Top Fund” as bait to persuade states to rewrite education laws and to work effectively with unions to create change within schools.

The “Race to the Top Fund” is a program that provides competitive grants to states in an effort to encourage and reward them for creating conditions for education innovation and reform. These conditions are described in the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” and they include: making substantial gains in student achievement, closing achievement gaps, improving high school graduation rates, and ensuring that students are prepared for success in college and careers.

Obama visited Wisconsin November 4, 2009, a day before Wisconsin lawmakers get ready to vote to lift a ban on using student test scores to judge teacher performance. States such as Wisconsin are ready to change laws to increase their chances of receiving a piece of the $5 million in school reform grant money. Nine other states have taken a similar approach in order to be in the running for the grant money.

Read more and for more information about the “Race to the Top Fund,” visit: http://www.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html.

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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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