“Maximizing” the Stimulus Bill

For the past month now, Eduflack has spent the majority of his day dealing with questions about the American Recovery and Reinvention Act and what it means for “me.”  Everyone is looking for answers, seeking to learn how it affects their institution, where there are opportunities to sell into it, and generally how the funds are to be used (or how they are intended to be used).  I, for one, am giddy with anticipation when that $30 billion or so of State Fiscal Stabilization Fund money hits the states in early April, along with the $13 billion in Title I and the $12.2 billion special education money.

I’ll admit, I’m a little wary of more than $50 billion going out to the schools with nary a hint of requirements or oversight.  I like that the remaining $14 billion or so in SFSF money won’t go out until the states submit some sort of plan (which we assume ED will actually read and approve).  And, of course, we assume that the LEAs will have to submit something to the states to get at all of this money in the first place.  If we are going to hold educators accountable for how the money is spent, we need some sort of measure of intentions to see if they are followed through.
But I’m far more interested in how the Incentive Fund and the Race to the Top will be handled.  What will the RFP look like?  How much opportunity will there really be for non-profits and non-LEAs?  How do we measure effective funding of innovation when we have no real data to know if such innovation is effective yet (or at least not the kind we need)?
ED has been a little slow in delivering the guidance and regs around all of this new education money.  Typically, they are a week or so off in promises of delivering new documents and new information to guide local decisionmaking.  All of the info is being posted on a special ED Recovery Act subwebsite — www.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/index.html.  (The site bears the hideous Recovery.gov logo, which looks more like a promo for a local recycling effort than it does for the largest federal government short-tem infusion of cash into state and local government in history.)
As part of the process, ED has been soliciting questions that they intend to answer.  We haven’t seen the answers yet, other than what the good folks at Politics K-12 have assembled (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/) … until now.
Yesterday, the Education Commission of the States and Teach for America (don’t ask me about the coupling, I don’t quite get it on this issue either) offered up a two-page “idea paper” on ARRA and how states can “maximize” the education opportunities available under the economic stimulus effort.  The think piece can be found here: <a href="http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/79/90/7990.pdf.
No”>www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/79/90/7990.pdf.
No great insights here.  But for those who are either too intimidated or lazy to go through the full portfolio of documents over at ED (or for those who want to give the impression they know what they are talking about without worrying about technical issues or details) it is a good, quick read to get the lay of the land.  Hopefully, though, the LEA plans for how to spend this money will be a little richer, a little more detailed, and a whole lot more substantive.

179 thoughts on ““Maximizing” the Stimulus Bill

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