Stimulating learning

Stimulus funding will “help retool education,” not just fund more of the same, Education Secretary Arne Duncan tells the Washington Post.

To help struggling schools, the federal government will use stimulus funding to encourage states to expand school days, reward good teachers, fire bad ones and measure how students perform compared with peers in India and China, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said yesterday.

History has shown that money alone does not drive school improvement, Duncan said, pointing to the District of Columbia, where public school students consistently score near the bottom on national reading and math tests even though the school system spends more per pupil than its suburban counterparts do.

“D.C. has had more money than God for a long time, but the outcomes are still disastrous,” Duncan said in an interview with Washington Post editors and reporters.

The huge increase in federal education spending will “target states, local school systems and nonprofit organizations willing to adopt policies that have been proven to work,” Duncan said. And he’ll be able to identify reform agents in 30 to 45 days?

On The Quick and the Ed, Robert Mainwaring looks at the challenge of spending one-time funds intelligently.  Districts that use stimulus money to fund new programs risk “falling off a cliff” when the money dries up.

NPR’s On Point interviewed Duncan today.

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