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AAE Federal Update August 21, 2012
posted by: Alix | August 21, 2012, 07:29 PM   

President Obama Calls for Aid to Stall Teacher Layoffs

According to a White House Report by President Obama's Council of Economic Advisors, tight school budgets have meant fewer teachers, larger classes and shorter school years. President Obama is now using the report to persuade Congress to pass administration proposals to help states reduce teacher layoffs.

The study concluded that 300,000 education jobs have been lost since the official end of the recession in 2009 and that student-to-teacher ratios have increased by 4.6 percent from 2008 to 2010 and are on track to grow more.

For President Obama, the report has offered him another chance to push his nearly year-old jobs plan he proposed that provided $25 billion for states to keep teachers, police officers and firefighters on the job. The proposal included payroll tax cuts and jobless insurance provisions that Congress has passed. However, other proposals in the plan have run aground amid mostly opposition from congressional Republicans.

In the address, Obama said a House Republican budget would make conditions worse because it would cut further into education spending to help pay for new tax cuts for the wealthy. Meanwhile, Republicans argue that the U.S. Senate, controlled by Democrats, had failed to act.

New School Food Guidelines Take Effect This Fall

With the movement toward healthy eating gaining steam among national advocates like First Lady Michelle Obama, the prospect of serving healthier meals to students is making headway in districts across the country. This fall, new U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for school lunches are taking effect in schools across the country.

The new guidelines will limit calories, salt intake, and fat in breakfast and lunch meals for public school students. Officials are also calling for more whole grains, local produce, and healthier options for school lunches.

The mandates also require that schools offer dark green, orange or red vegetables at least once a week, and students must choose at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal. Trans-fats are banned from schools, and any flavored milk offered must be fat-free.

School lunch workers gathered at the School Nutrition Association conference in Denver, Colorado this summer to share tricks about how to get students to make healthy choices in the lunch line.  Click here to view the full set of guidelines.

Department of Education Launches Enhanced Version of Online Learning Community Website for School Turnaround

The Department of Education recently launched the School Turnaround Learning Community (STLC), an enhanced version of its online learning community for school turnaround. The new website now features improved search and chat functions and a user-friendly reorganization of STLC resources and materials.

"Turning around the lowest performing schools is challenging work. Driving the dramatic changes needed in many of our hard-to-serve schools requires states, districts, and schools to collaborate and share promising practices in new ways," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "The enhanced School Turnaround Learning Community can better support this important work by providing an easy-to-use, interactive and public platform for turnaround leaders and community members to connect with peers and learn about effective strategies."

The STLC was first launched in July 2011 as a key element in the Department of Education's efforts to provide support to state, district, and school leaders working to turn around the nation's persistently lowest-achieving schools. The site offers resources, training, and discussion tools enabling users to share and comment on school turnaround practices and lessons learned. To date, the site has over 4,300 subscribed members, offered over 500 school turnaround resources, and has hosted nearly 60 webinars on various topics including teacher and leader effectiveness, family and community engagement, increased learning time, early learning, and supporting rural and secondary schools.

Click here to view the new website and browse school turnaround resources.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Announces Back to School Bus Tour

Back to school season is in full swing and earlier this month, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced plans for the Department of Education's third annual back-to-school bus tour. The tour, themed Education Drives America, will take Secretary Duncan and senior Department of Education leaders across the country with stops in major U.S. cities from coast to coast.

The tour will highlight education successes in an effort to bring communities together to talk about K-12 education reform, college affordability and the link between education and the American economy.

Secretary Duncan will lead the tour from Redwood City, CA, through Reno, NV, Denver through Kansas City, and Charleston, WV, through Washington, DC. Deputy Secretary Tony Miller and Under Secretary Martha Kanter will also lead portions of the tour. Click here to view the complete list of tour cities.

More details on each stop will be announced in the coming weeks. To receive updates about the tour, sign up for email updates from the Department of Education.

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