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Federal Update November 7, 2012
posted by: Ruthie | November 07, 2012, 07:51 PM   

The 2012 Election: The Education Impact
The votes are in and the people have spoken. President Obama's re-election means four more years of unprecedented federal education spending and education reform-minded competitive grants. As the dust settles on the 2012 election, experts are predicting a continuation of an active Department of Education and changes to some controversial state education laws.

As Education Week pointed out in their Voter's Guide, President Barack Obama made several decisions that have been influential in education over the last four years. At the beginning of 2009, he signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus, which allocated $100 billion in new spending for education and created a number of new competitive grant programs. Race to the Top is the most prominent of these programs, awarding grants to states that embraced Obama-backed education reform priorities. Additionally, President Obama has offered flexibility on the mandates of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) via controversial federal waivers.

With his second term beginning, President Obama's new plan for education will be implemented immediately. The most specific changes he mentioned during the campaign include conditioning a portion of federal college aid partly on student incomes; creating a new version of his Race to the Top education program, focusing on postsecondary education; and recruiting and training 100,000 new math and science teachers.

Additionally, the president is already working with Congress to head off looming the sequestration, which will cut every federal agency, including the US Department of Education. He is also currently trying to correct the shortfall in the Pell Grant program.

Click here to read AAE Executive Director Gary Beckner's statement on the 2012 election.

U.S. Department of the Treasury's "Save Out Loud" Contest Calls for Students' Savings Stories
Do you know a student with a savings story to share? Are you teaching financial literacy in your classroom? The U.S. Department of the Treasury is calling for entries to its "Save Out Loud" Contest through the "Ready.Save.Grow." initiative. "Save Out Loud" is a photo and video essay contest for students in grades K – 12. Grand prize winners get a virtual visit to their classrooms from the United States Treasurer Rosie Rios.

Teachers can encourage students to enter via electronic or photo submissions. Photos must include a 250 word description of the challenges they're facing in saving, their progress in saving, and why they are saving. Similarly, students may also submit a 90 seconds or less personal video sharing their savings story.

Students must upload entries via Facebook for submission. The judges are America's leading financial educators, including Nan Morrison, CEO of the Council for Economic Education, and David Mancl, Director, Office of Financial Literacy, Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions and State of Wisconsin Jump$tart Coalition Leader.

Whether it's a baseball glove, a first car or a college education, students of all ages have a reason to save. This contest is great way for students to learn the value of a dollar and the importance of saving.

Click here for teacher resources about the contest and resources for teaching financial literacy.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Examines the National School Lunch Program
Last week following months of controversy over new regulations, the House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) along with Representatives Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to evaluate the requirements under the National School Lunch Program on students, schools, and taxpayers.

Many school administrators, state and local officials, as well as parents have objected to the new school lunch program, based on Michele Obama's Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act. Among the critiques, many have voiced concern over students being hungry, wasted food, and increased costs on cash-strapped school districts. Many schools feel the requirements limit flexibility and the ability to meet the unique needs of students.

The members of the House of Representative coalition have asked the GAO to consider the challenges school officials face in their efforts to comply with the new standards, the affects of the mandatory price increases, and the lack of support on behalf of the Department of Agriculture.

In addition, Chairman Kline and Representative Noem and Roe also recently sent a letter to the Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak asking USDA to provide more details about the implementation of the requirements and disclose any future studies to evaluate their effect on food waste and student nutrition.

Click here to view the current dietary guidelines.

Federal Resources in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy
In the wake of last week's mega-storm Hurricane Sandy, the Department of Education is reaching out to state education agencies and local education agencies to let them know about issue-specific recovery resources. Among the steps taken to date:

• The Department of Education has extended the application deadline for the Race to the Top-District competition. For school districts in states affected, the new deadline is Wednesday, November 7.
• In a statement, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan encouraged colleges, universities, and scholarship programs across the country to consider extending their early November application deadlines to accommodate students who were impacted by Sandy and who may be experiencing hardships.
• The Departments of Education and Agriculture also reminded states and schools they may use stocks of foods purchased for the National School Lunch Program to help prepare meals at schools, shelters, or other congregate sites to feed local residents who may be in need of nutrition assistance.

Also, after hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, the Department of Education developed a brochure, "Tips for Helping Students Recovering from Traumatic Events," to assist educators and parents who have students suffering from loss.

Visit the Department of Education website for the latest resources.
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