Superintendent Update: December 2011

Superintendent Update

Message from Michael Yudin

Thank you for joining the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on our most recent Superintendent Call on December 5. It was a great opportunity for all of us, including Secretary Duncan and other Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) staff, to hear about the work being done on the ground with two of ED's high priority programs:  the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) and the School Improvement Grant (SIG). I particularly want to thank Maricopa County Educational Service Agency and Denver Public Schools for sharing their work with us -- I'm encouraged by the progress that they are making and hope that you found their presentations to be as informative as I did.

Michael Yudin
We plan on continuing with this model of peer-to-peer sharing for future superintendent calls, so if you have suggestions for topics we should cover or areas that you'd like to know more about, please let me know by emailing me at with the subject line "Superintendent Update."

Thanks for all of the hard work you do for kids, each and every day. Happy holidays to all of you!

ESEA Flexibility

Seven weeks after President Obama announced a plan to offer greater flexibility from key provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in exchange for a firm commitment to core reforms that boost student achievement, 11 states submitted official requests for waivers.  Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Tennessee filed requests based on locally-designed plans to implement college- and career-ready standards; develop rigorous accountability systems that include a focus on low-performing schools and schools with persistent achievement gaps; and create better systems for developing, supporting, and evaluating teachers and principals.  The 11 waiver requests are posted online, along with the names of the peer reviewers who met together after Thanksgiving to review them.  We will be working with States in the coming weeks on their requests.
Since the President’s announcement, 39 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have signaled their intent to seek flexibility from NCLB.  The next deadline for requests is February 21, 2012.  States can also make requests later in the spring. To learn more about ESEA Flexibility and to view States' requests, visit

OESE Welcomes Two Program Offices

OESE welcomes two new program offices: the Office of Safe & Healthy Students (OSHS) and the Office of School Turnaround (OST).

The OSHS, formerly known as the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, administers programs that help ensure safe and healthy learning environments for students, including those that deal with safe and supportive schools; health, mental health, environmental health, and physical education; drug-violence prevention; character and civic education; and homeland security and emergency management.

The OST is charged with providing financial assistance and other support, including through the administration of the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program, for State and district efforts to turn around the lowest-performing five percent of schools in each State.

Learn more about these two program offices by visiting their websites, which can be found on OESE's homepage.

Resources for Rural Schools

USDA's Summer Food Program

According to the 2009 American Community Survey, nearly 29 percent of young children in rural America are living in poverty. In these tough economic times, many more young people in rural areas may depend on school nutrition programs. The Summer Food Service Program is a federally funded program – administered by States – that reimburses organizations for meals served to children during the summer. Learn more about this program and how it may help your students by attending one of several webinars offered throughout the next few months by visiting their website:


"Tools for Rural Schools" Webinar Series

The Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Appalachia is holding a series of webinars on important topics for education and career training in rural areas. Learn more here or visit the REL Appalachia Web site, The REL Appalachia serves the applied education research needs of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. REL Appalachia is part of a system of 10 research laboratories funded by the ED’s Institute of Education Sciences, which supports efforts to improve public education at the state, local, and school levels.

Join ED's Rural Listserv

Supporters of education in rural areas can stay connected to ED's rural efforts by subscribing to the Rural Education listserv at

Department of Education News

Use of Race Guidance

On December 2, the Departments of Justice and Education released two guidance documents -- one for school districts and one for colleges and universities -- detailing the flexibility that the Supreme Court has provided to educational institutions to promote diversity and, in the case of K-12 schools, reduce racial isolation among students, within the confines of the law.  This guidance makes clear that educators may permissibly consider the race of students in carefully constructed plans to promote diversity or reduce racial isolation.  It also recognizes the learning benefits to students when institutions include students of diverse backgrounds.  The guidance is primarily based on three Supreme Court decisions which specifically addressed the consideration of race by institutions.  It provides numerous examples of options that schools, colleges, and universities can consider to further diversify or reduce racial isolation.  For K-12 schools, the guidance discusses school and program siting, drawing school attendance boundaries, grade realignment, and restructuring feeder patterns, among other options.  In postsecondary institutions, race may be taken into account in admissions, in pipeline programs, in recruitment, and in mentoring, tutoring, retention, and support programs as efforts to achieve diversity.  Learn more:

New Studies: Title I Comparability and Anti-Bullying Laws

A new report from the Department’s Policy and Program Studies Service (PPSS) analyzing school-level spending and teacher salary data documents that more than 40% of schools that receive federal Title I money to serve disadvantaged students spent less State and local money on teachers and other personnel than schools that don't receive Title I money at the same grade level in the same district. This first-time ever national data collection on school-level expenditure data -- required by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and submitted by over 13,000 districts for the 2008-09 school year -- reveals that many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding, leaving them with fewer resources than schools attended by wealthier students.  Indeed, more than 40% of schools that received federal Title I money to
Title I Comparability
serve disadvantaged students spent less state and local funding on teachers and other personnel than schools that did not receive Title I money at the same grade level in the same district.  Learn more:

PPSS also released a report summarizing current approaches in the 46 States with anti-bullying laws and the 41 States that have created anti-bullying policies as models for schools.  From 1999 to 2010, more than 120 bills were enacted by State legislatures to either introduce or amend statutes that address bullying and related behaviors in schools.  Twenty-one bills were enacted in 2010, and another eight bills were signed into law through April 30, 2011.  Of the 46 anti-bullying laws in place, 36 have provisions that prohibit cyber-bullying, while 13 have provisions that grant schools the authority to address off-campus behavior that creates a hostile school environment.  Learn more:

Grant Information

High School Equivalency Program (HEP)

The High School Equivalency Program (HEP) helps migratory and seasonal farmworkers (or children of such workers) who are 16 years of age or older and not currently enrolled in school to obtain the equivalent of a high school diploma and, subsequently, to gain employment or begin postsecondary education or training.
Deadline to Apply: January 18, 2012
Type of Grant: Discretionary/Competitive
Who May Apply: Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), Nonprofit Organizations

College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP)

The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) assists students who are migratory or seasonal farmworkers (or children of such workers) enrolled in their first year of undergraduate studies at an Institute of Higher Education (IHE.) The funding supports completion of the first year of studies.
Deadline to Apply: January 18, 2012
Type of Grant: Discretionary/Competitive
Who May Apply: Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), Nonprofit Organizations

Upcoming Events

January 21-24, 2012: National Title I Association's Annual Conference

Acting Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin will participate in the opening session of the National Title I Association's Annual Conference in Seattle. He and other OESE staff will also participate in various sessions throughout the conference. Learn more:

January 27, 2012: Higher Education Consortium for Special Education Panel

Acting Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin will join Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services Alexa Posny for a panel sponsored by the Higher Education Consortium for Special Education. The panel will focus on ESEA flexibility and teacher evaluation system reforms, and how these efforts may affect students with disabilities.