Last week it was the Council of Chief State School Officers.
This week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and some members of Team Stimulus met with the Council of the Great City Schools, headed up by Michael Casserly (one of Arne’s Fave Five lobbyists) to talk about the stimulus money and the Obama education plan.
The meeting, which featured Valerie Jarrett, a top Obama education adviser whose mother is now working with Duncan on pre-K issues, was closed to the press.
But, in remarks afterward, Duncan said that states and districts had better put their formula funding and state stabilization money to good use if they want to be competitive for the Race to the Top grants ($4.35 billion) and What Works and Innovation grants ($650 million), as well as the $200 million in Teacher Incentive Fund money.
Though relatively small, those pots of money have attracted a lot of attention.
“We’re going to reward states and districts that are willing to challenge the status quo and get dramatically better,” Duncan said. “If [the money] is simply being used to perpetuate the status quo, that would basically eliminate those states and those districts from further competition.”
Duncan also hit two priorities his boss talked about last week: extending learning time and “incenting” excellent teachers to work in some of the most challenging schools.
Afterwards, I chatted with Candy Olson, a school board member from Tampa. She said folks were particularly interested in how to the Department wants states to spend one-time cash infusions for Title I and special education provided under the stimulus and how superintendents should work with governors and other state officials in developing plans for the stimulus cash.