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Federal Update: March 18, 2014
posted by: Ruthie | March 18, 2014, 06:44 PM   

Federal Budget Release Reveals President Obama's Priorities

At the beginning of the month, President Obama released his 
annual budget proposal, requesting $68.6 billion in discretionary funding for the U.S. Department of Education. This number is a 1.9% increase from the 2014 budget.

Specifically, President Obama proposed initiatives to close the achievement gap, increase and leverage technology use among both educators and students, make high-quality preschool accessible, improve school safety, and make postsecondary education more affordable.

"The President's budget request reflects his strong belief that education is a vital investment in the nation's economic competitiveness, in its people, and in its communities," Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan said.  "Despite the encouraging progress we've seen, wide opportunity and achievement gaps continue to hurt many families, which puts our nation's economy and future at risk."


Click here to read the budget summary. 

Department of Education Works to Increase Accessibility to Higher Education

The Department of Education recently launched the 
FAFSA Completion Initiative in an effort to identify individual students who have not completed the FAFSA, as well as proposed regulations requiring career colleges to do a better job of preparing students for employment.

FAFSA Completion Initiative will provide states information to support school and district efforts to increase FAFSA completion, starting in the 2014-15 school year.  These efforts build on the success of a pilot project launched by the agency in 2010 working directly with about 100 districts.

Additionally, the 
proposed regulations for colleges strengthen students' options for higher education by giving all career-training programs the opportunity to improve, while stopping the flow of federal funding to the lowest-performing programs that fail to do so. 
Congressional Hearing: Public Charter Schools at Work

Last week, the House Education and Workforce Committee held a hearing discussing a wide variety of topics pertaining to public charter schools in America.

Maintaining quality charter schools, closing failing schools, collaboration between district run schools and charter schools, and the funding of charter schools were among the many topics discussed by the committee. Overall, witnesses testified to the exemplary work charter schools are doing to serve students, teachers, and communities nearly nationwide. 

Witnesses also encouraged lawmakers to continue funding the federal charter school program, which administers start-up grants for eligible charter schools, as well as credit-enhancement programs allowing charter schools to apply for loans. 
Click here to view the full hearing.
Congressional Hearing: Exploring Efforts to Strengthen the Teaching Profession

Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Workforce Committee held a congressional hearing examining how to strengthen the teaching profession. The panel recommended several key methods of increasing teacher empowerment and overall years of service.

One method of improvement relates to teacher preparation programs and the infrastructure of support for first-year teachers. Another panelist recommended the federal government incentivize partnerships among schools and with teachers in various stages of their teaching careers.

All panelists reiterated the need to convey the importance of teaching and the critical impact it makes to both students of education and the community - showing how it spans the community and how it takes collaboration. Witnesses emphasized the need to create a climate of support and adequate teacher preparation, essentially explaining, "Ill-prepared teachers are taxed every day."

The importance of data regarding teacher preparation, as well as the efficient and judicious use of the collected data, was also examined. Almost all panelists emphasized the need to focus and streamline federal data collection, without disrupting teachers' daily tasks.

Click here to view the full hearing.

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