Published Online: May 21, 2013
Published in Print: May 22, 2013, as Blogs of the Week

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| NEWS | Politics K-12

No Staff Furloughs For Ed. Department

Employees at the U.S. Department of Education won't face furloughs because of the cuts from sequestration, according to a memo sent to staff members May 10. In an email to his staff, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said furloughs would make it tough to get grants to school districts, states, and universities.

Overall, the department is facing $2.5 billion in sequestration cuts. The cuts will affect Title I, special education, career and technical education, and just about everything else.

And the reductions do not change rules when it comes to maintenance of effort, time periods for using funds, supplement-not-supplant rules, or required set-asides of funds. Districts and states had been asking for flexibility on those provisions.

When it comes to competitive grants, the department will try to scale back new competitions. But reducing continuation grants might also be necessary. That could have an impact on programs such as Promise Neighborhoods, the Teacher Incentive Fund, and TRIO (a college-access program), all of which are funded through continuation grants.

The department has cut back on hiring. It is also planning to cut back on salaries, travel, contracts, conferences, and other administrative expenses, trimming about $85 million from those areas overall.

—Alyson Klein

| NEWS | Curriculum Matters

Math Is New Weapon Against Violence

An initiative that blends intensive math tutoring with a group-counseling intervention to keep students from getting involved in violent activity will soon be offered to up to 1,000 adolescent boys in a dozen Chicago public schools, the school district announced last week.

The tutoring component is based on a program developed in 2004 at the Match public charter schools in Boston, where math tutoring is incorporated as a period in the school day. Several districts in Massachusetts and beyond have since started to replicate that program, including Houston and Denver.

In Chicago, a news release says, the math tutoring will be offered alongside the Becoming a Man program, a school-based counseling and mentoring initiative that focuses on violence prevention and educational enrichment for urban youths.

The schools targeted for the initiative are located in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago, according to district officials. The idea of combining the two programs was piloted this school year at Harper High School in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood.

The University of Chicago will conduct an evaluation to gauge the joint program's impact on student achievement and involvement in violent crimes. The new initiative is a collaborative effort of the University of Chicago and Match Education and is receiving financial support from the Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation.

—Erik W. Robelen

| NEWS | Schooled in Sports

Bill Would Force State To Pay for New Mascots

If two Republican lawmakers in Michigan get their way, the state's civil rights department could soon be out $3 million for raising concerns about the use of Native American mascots in K-12 schools.

Two bills introduced in the Michigan House would require the state's department of civil rights to cover any expenses for schools forced to change their American Indian mascots.

The department initially filed a complaint in February with the U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights asking for a ban on the use of American Indian mascots and imagery in K-12 schools that receive federal funds. It charges that the use of such imagery denies equal rights to American Indian students.

The legislation introduced May 15 by Reps. Bob Genetski and Dan Lauwers would create a $3 million "school mascot reimbursement fund" that would cover the cost of changes to mascots, uniforms, billboards, gym resurfacing, and other expenses generated if the OCR approves the complaint. The money would be paid from the Michigan civil rights department's budget.

"The civil rights department filed its complaint independently, without input from local citizens, so it can pay for any necessary changes it may have caused," said Mr. Genetski in a statement.

Vicki Levengood, a spokeswoman for the state civil rights department, told the Detroit Free-Press that it would model its policy after Oregon, whose state board of education voted in 2012 to bar K-12 public schools from using Native American mascots. Any school affected by the new policy has five years to make the change.

The legislation from Mr. Genetski and Mr. Lauwers was referred to the House committee on appropriations.

—Bryan Toporek

Vol. 32, Issue 32, Page 15

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