February 27, 2009
Karla Denny, Director of Communications, 785-296-4876
Commissioner Posny Promotes Kansas Education
TOPEKA/The nation’s chief state school officers met with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Second Lady Jill Biden, and U.S. Department of Education (ED) senior advisors at the White House on Wednesday, February 25, 2009. Chiefs were invited by Secretary Duncan and Vice President Biden for a briefing session on President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in addition to other pressing education issues.
The tone of the meeting was that of collaboration and partnership between state school officers, ED, and the Obama administration. CCSSO Executive Director Gene Wilhoit stated, “This is a historic opportunity for education, and with this comes great responsibility. There is a clear sense of excitement among chiefs around reform and change both nationally and within states.”
Chiefs were introduced to ED’s guiding principles for ARRA: delivering funds quickly; saving and creating jobs; ensuring transparency and accountability; and advancing reforms. Additionally, chief state school officers were very pleased to hear that initial guidance on funding could be expected next week. Regarding the use of recovery funds as well as the future of reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, ED discussed four key opportunities for innovation and reform which align clearly with the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) priority issues: standards and assessments; data systems; teacher quality and distribution; and school improvement.
The ARRA is investing more than $100 billion in the nation’s education system over the next two years. At the White House meeting, chief state school officers had specific questions concerning the stimulus including the implementation timeline; strategies for promoting state-level coordination and consultation between governors and education leaders in states; reinforcing state collaboration, innovation, and the long-term impact of the stimulus dollars; and monitoring and reporting issues around this historic allocation of funding.
After the meeting, a few state chiefs were invited to appear with Secretary Duncan at a press briefing in the Rose Garden. Dr. Posny was one of the invited chiefs. Events leading up to this meeting include the following:
- In late November, CCSSO president Ken James (AR) appointed Dr. Alexa Posny (KS) to the Presidential 100 Day Task Force. The Task Force was charged with developing immediate recommendations for consideration of then President-elect Obama’s Education Transition Team. The Task Force met in Washington, DC, on December 1, 2008, to develop the priority issues: state-federal partnerships, building state capacity, funding educational initiatives and Title 1 regulations. Linda Darling-Hammond, chair of the President’s Education Transition Team, met with the Task Force at that time. Others at that meeting included the following: Former Education Secretary Richard Riley; Chair of Obama’s Agency Team Judy Winston and team member Joan Snowden; Obama’s Policy Team representative Steve Robinson; Senator Kennedy’s staff members Roberto Rodriguez and Emma Vadehra; Representative Miller’s staffer Catherine Brown; State Chiefs Joe Morton (AL), Ken James (AR), Gavin Payne (CA), Chris Koch (IL), Judy Jeffrey (IA), Alexa Posny (KS), Susan Gendron (ME), Peter McWalters (RI), Robert Scott (TX), Pat Wright (VA), and Elizabeth Burmaster (WI).
Following the internal deliberation of possible recommendations, Task Force members engaged in a high-level conversation with numerous members of the Obama Transition Team and senior congressional staff. The openness of the dialogue was encouraging and the Transition Team indicated a very clear interest in specific state examples and suggestions for improvement.
- After this initial meeting, the Task Force outlined an education plan and sent it to Linda Darling-Hammond. Letters were also sent to Senator Tom Harkin and Senator Arlen Specter outlining the 4 I’s of the plan: innovation, investment, improvement, & integration. After the confirmation of Arne Duncan as the new Secretary of Education, the CCSSO plan was also shared with him and became a part of his bold new agenda.
- Alexa was appointed to the CCSSO Board of Directors in January and participated in the Board Retreat in Memphis.
- In the latter part of January, Dr. Posny participated in 2 conference calls with Secretary Duncan to discuss education reform.
- On January 29, 2009, Alexa participated in a conference call with John Schnurr, U.S. Department of Education (ED), to discuss implications of the economic stimulus plan for education. A select number of state chiefs were invited to participate.
- After participating in the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) hearing February 4, 2009, Dr. Posny was invited to meet with Secretary Duncan on February 6, 2009, in Washington, DC.
At the Council’s Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, March 8-10, 2009, chiefs will deliberate the longer-term advocacy agenda, particularly linking back to the white paper discussion at the Policy Forum. Dr. Posny has been asked to co-chair the task force on innovative systems for student learning at this conference.
Dr. Posny is a well-respected state chief who has been and continues to be at the table when educational reform and the economic stimulus package for education are discussed. Her work with CCSSO assures that Kansas has a voice in all discussions of educational reform/policy at the federal level. Dr. Posny’s efforts on behalf of Kansas students do not go unnoticed at the federal level, and this visibility bodes well for Kansas education and educators.
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