Policy Briefs and Memos

Racing To The Top! (Updated 1/19/2010)

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The U.S. Education Secretary's $5 billion "Race To The Top" Fund, as included in the federal stimulus package, represents a historic opportunity to establish clear reform priorities and to back them up with signifiant resources to bring change to America's schools.

CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW NEW YORK STACKS UP (Updated Jan. 19 2010)

CLICK HERE FOR AN UPDATE ON HOW STATES ARE LINING UP (Updated Jan. 8 2010)

CLICK HERE TO READ DFER'S HANDY RTTP FAQ+A PAPER! (Updated, Dec. 13, 2009)

CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW STATES ARE LINING UP (Updated, Dec. 14, 2009)

Click below for some concepts that DFER supports as part of the Race To The Top competition between states:

-- Race To The Top Issue Brief #1 -  Public Charter Schools and High Quality Pre-K  (June 17, 2009)

-- Race To The Top Issue Brief #2 - Unleashing Innovation In America's Schools (June 18, 2009)

-- Race To The Top Issue Brief #3 - Enhancing Entry Points To The Teaching Profession  (June 19, 2009)

-- Race To The Top Issue Brief #4 - World Class Standards and Assessments  (June 22, 2009)

-- Race To The Top Issue Brief #5 - Growing Innovative Charter Schools (June 23, 2009)

-- Race To The Top Issue Brief #6 - A Great Teacher For Every Child (June 24, 2009) 


Advisory Memo: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Released February 23, 2009

Democrats for Education Reform released this memo to United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

DFER believes that ARRA can act as catalyst for the U.S. Department of Education to compel states to meet their current obligations for each of these four areas and to provide incentives for exemplary states to undertake initiatives that act as a model for those that are underperforming.

Some states have disregarded even the most basic requirements of federal laws designed to ensure that poor and minority children have educational opportunities at least equal to those of their more advantaged peers. DFER believes it is time for the new Secretary to put his foot down and demand that states meet their obligations to our nation's most at-risk students.


Partners In Closing The Achievement Gap: How Charter Schools Can Support High-Quality Universal Pre-K

By SARA MEAD

Released March 21, 2008

Democrats for Education Reform released a new policy briefing memo by DFER board member Sara Mead called Partners In Closing The Achievement Gap: How Charter Schools Can Support Quality Universal Pre-K. (You can download a PDF copy here.)

Mead, director of the Early Education Inititiative at the New America Foundation, writes that these two movements (the early childhood and charter school movements) have the potential to become important partners in improving education for America's children.

Mead's specific policy recommendations include:

-- Eliminating state policies barring charter schools from offering Pre-K

-- Allowing public charter schools to access per-pupil funds to educate 3- and 4-year-olds

-- Build charter authorizer capacity and expertise in early education

-- Allow charter schools to access state and federal Pre-K funds

-- Ensure adequate Pre-K funding to ensure quality

-- Include Pre-K charters in the Federal Charter Schools program

-- Eliminate caps on the number of charter schools which may serve children

It would seem that two of the most significant concerns with many Pre-K programs - namely wide disparities in perceived quality and a sometimes glaring disconnect between early childhood programs and elementary schools - could be addressed head-on by tapping into the accountability measures and structural flexibility that charter schools provide.


Keeping Achievement Relevant: The Reauthorization of 'No Child Left Behind'

By CHARLES BARONE

Released September 28, 2007

In this DFER Briefing Memo, Charles Barone, DFER's Director of Federal Policy, explains why the details matter in the current battles over the reauthorization of NCLB.

Barone, a former staffer to Rep. George Miller (D-California) and the top Democratic staff member for the House Education and Labor Committee in 2001 when NCLB was passed, traces current federal education policies back to both Brown v. Board of Education and the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

He notes how NCLB, for all its problems, represented a significant attempt to eliminate some of the original (and amended) shortcomings in Title I, and highlights the historic importance of disaggregating student performance data by student type.

The memo underscores how damaging it could be if a reauthorized NCLB actually took us backward in terms of equality and accountability.