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Promise Neighborhoods

Modeled after the very successful Harlem Children's Zone, the Promise Neighborhoods program will support community-based efforts to provide cradle-to-career services designed to improve educational outcomes for students in distressed neighborhoods. By the end of September, the Obama Administration will allocate $10 million to support up to 20 planning grants.  339 communities applied for just 20 planning grants in FY 2010 – 48 of them representing rural areas and 21 serve Tribal communities.

Blueprint for Education Reform: A Fair, Flexible and Focused Proposal to Reauthorize ESEA

In March 2010, the Administration released A Blueprint for Reform, a 41-page outline of our proposals for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, currently known as No Child Left Behind).  First passed in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty, the law’s focus was, and remains, ensuring that low-income students have access to an excellent education.

This reauthorization offers a major opportunity to re-envision the federal role in education by supporting innovation in states and districts through additional competitive grant funding and improved technical assistance and support, while still maintaining the traditional federal role of providing formula funding targeted toward high-need students.

Broadly, our Administration’s proposal is defined by three words:  fair, flexible and focused.  It will  create a fair system of accountability that holds everyone to high standards and give greater flexibility and support to most schools so they can develop solutions that will work for their students, while focusing on persistently low-performing schools and schools with significant achievement gaps.  These proposals will  emphasize supporting schools and teachers in helping  students  reach these standards, and on recognizing and learning from success.

Under a re-designed ESEA, our Administration will maintain the foundational formula funding the federal government provides to districts serving high-need students, including the $14.5 billion Title I formula program. Then, in part through a proposed $3 billion increase in K-12 funding for FY2011, our Administration has proposed  greater competitive funding to support states, school districts, nonprofits, and universities in developing and scaling up promising and proven approaches to long-standing challenges.  These challenges include preparing and supporting teachers and leaders so they can be more effective, turning around low-performing schools, developing comprehensive approaches to meeting the full range of student needs, starting innovative new schools, and supporting high-quality instructional systems in literacy, STEM, and all the components of a well-rounded education.

Early Learning:  RAISING THE BAR

Our Administration is committed to developing new models and approaches that will support improved standards and outcomes across early learning settings. By setting a high standard of quality to promote early learning, child development, and school readiness, the Obama Administration’s early learning agenda will ensure that more children enter kindergarten prepared with the healthy cognitive, social, emotional and physical skills necessary for success.  

In order to enhance the level of quality in early learning programs and increase access to such programs, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have established an Interagency Policy Board to increase coordination among the major early learning funding streams across the two Departments that serve children from birth through third grade.  Our Administration is working


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