Education Funding

Inside the State Chiefs’ Confab

March 24, 2010 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

From my notebook:

I’ve got a few leftovers from my day with the state school chiefs’ legislative meeting in Washington that didn’t make my Ed Week story.

First, let me just say how much I appreciate the candor of the chiefs. They don’t speak in scripted sound bites or repeat the same talking points. They talk real world stuff. How refreshing.

Now to the good stuff, most of which comes from the chiefs’ roundtable with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Best hint of the day that Louisiana will be a round one winner in Race to the Top: Sec. Duncan praising the state for its data system. Too bad Paul Pastorek, Louisiana’s chief, wasn’t at the roundtable to gloat as his colleagues looked on in envy.

Best laugh line from the chiefs’ roundtable: Mike Flanagan, the chief in Michigan, told a story about when Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm asked him for advice on what to do, as she prepared to meet with Sec. Duncan at last month’s National Governors Association meeting.

“You sit next to him and you suck up,” Flanagan said he told the governor, to uproarious laughter. Of course, Flanagan quipped, “it didn’t work,” referring to Michigan’s failure to make the list of 16 finalists for round one of Race to the Top.

Best attempt to put Sec. Duncan on the spot: Joseph Morton, Alabama’s state superintendent. I blogged about this yesterday, too, but didn’t fully capture just how astute Mr. Morton was at trying to force the secretary to state—unequivocally—his position on charter schools and, specifically, how important it is for states to have charters to be competitive for Race to the Top. As you may recall, this charter school issue has caused the normally unflappable secretary to be a wee bit prickly.

Best ‘real world’ example to counter Sec. Duncan’s enthusiasm that his required methods for school turnaround will work: Denise Juneau, Montana’s schools chief, outlined the duties of one of her superintendents, who is also the high school principal in his district, the coach, and the guy who cuts the grass.

Best question for Arne Duncan that didn’t get asked: Mark McQuillan, Connecticut’s education commissioner had some not so flattering comments to make about Race to the Top during an earlier session the chiefs had with top Obama administration officials. I wonder if he opted not to ask the secretary about it, or was convinced not to by his colleagues.

Best suck-up of the day: Came from the secretary himself, who was effusive in his praise for CCSSO Executive Director (and former Kentucky chief) Gene Wilhoit. I couldn’t even write down all the superlatives that Duncan was heaping on him about his leadership on the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Best gratuitous basketball reference: From Terry Holliday, Kentucky’s commissioner, who reminded the secretary that Kentucky is in two “Sweet Sixteen” brackets: as a Race to the Top finalist and, of course, as one of the 16 college teams left standing in the NCAA basketball tournament. Holliday told Duncan, probably best known by the non-education public for being a basketball-playing companion of President Obama’s, that he could personally arrange for the secretary and the president to play with John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, two stars of the University of Kentucky team.

Best ‘aha’ moment of the day for a state policy reporter: Spotting former Rhode Island chief Peter McWalters in the crowd and learning that he now works for CCSSO, as an interim strategic initiative director on education workforce issues.

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


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding What New School Spending Data Show About a Coming Fiscal Cliff
New data show just what COVID-relief funds did to overall school spending—and the size of the hole they might leave in school budgets.
4 min read
Photo illustration of school building and piggy bank.
F. Sheehan for Education Week + iStock / Getty Images Plus
Education Funding When There's More Money for Schools, Is There an 'Objective' Way to Hand It Out?
A fight over the school funding formula in Mississippi is kicking up old debates over how to best target aid.
7 min read
Illustration of many roads and road signs going in different directions with falling money all around.
Education Funding Explainer How Can Districts Get More Time to Spend ESSER Dollars? An Explainer
Districts can get up to 14 additional months to spend ESSER dollars on contracts—if their state and the federal government both approve.
4 min read
Illustration of woman turning back hands on clock.
Education Week + iStock / Getty Images Plus Week
Education Funding Education Dept. Sees Small Cut in Funding Package That Averted Government Shutdown
The Education Department will see a reduction even as the funding package provides for small increases to key K-12 programs.
3 min read
President Joe Biden delivers a speech about healthcare at an event in Raleigh, N.C., on March 26, 2024.
President Joe Biden delivers a speech about health care at an event in Raleigh, N.C., on March 26. Biden signed a funding package into law over the weekend that keeps the federal government open through September but includes a slight decrease in the Education Department's budget.
Matt Kelley/AP