ESEA Plan Could Tether Title I to College-and-Career Standards

February 21, 2010 2 min read

As part of the Obama administration’s proposal to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told some of the nation’s governors at a meeting in Washington on Sunday that billions of dollars in annual Title I aid for poor students would be tied to whether states adopt academic standards judged to be “college and career-ready,” a source with knowledge of the meeting told Education Week.

President Obama, who is scheduled to meet with most of the nation’s governors at the White House on Monday, is expected to share with them specific proposals for rewriting the ESEA, with a heavy emphasis on states adopting the common academic standards that have been drafted in an initiative led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Only states that adopt so-called “college and career-ready standards” would be eligible to receive Title I funding, according to the source and the Education Department.

Mr. Duncan also is said to have told the governors that states that don’t embrace the common standards effort in math and reading--so far, that’s only Alaska and Texas--could work with higher education institutions to develop their own college and career-ready standards, according to the source.

But when it comes to awarding various pots of money to states on a competitive basis, as the administration is proposing to do in its fiscal 2011 budget, those that adopt the common core standards would be looked on more favorably, according to an Education Department official.

We’ll have to wait and see exactly what the president tells the governors at the scheduled meeting, but the administration’s budget proposal certainly dropped some hints about this direction for the ESEA. Under President Obama’s spending blueprint, for example, the $14.5 billion Title I program would be rebranded as College-and-Career Ready Students.

The administration is coming under increasing pressure from those worried that momentum for renewal of ESEA--better known in its current version as the No Child Left Behind Act--could slip away without more aggressive leadership and an explicit roadmap for Congress to work with.

UPDATE: The president made his pitch for overhauling ESEA this morning to the governors. See Michele McNeil’s post at Politics K-12 for details.

UPDATE II: And here you can find Alyson Klein’s PK-12 post on gubernatorial reaction and Arne Duncan’s view that the governors are going to be fully on board.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.