U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan warned today that he expects states and school districts to spend incoming stimulus money on true innovation, not the “status quo.”
Moreover, schools that do not spend the money on reform, he said, will not be favored for upcoming federal grants, and could even lose out in a second round of stimulus funding.
Duncan spoke with reporters, including from the Post-Dispatch, this morning to discuss education reforms laid out in President Obama’s budget proposal.
He said the department will “aggressively pursue a reform agenda.”
He talked about rewarding teacher excellence, encouraging alternative certification, and building financial incentives to persuade good teachers to go to troubled schools.
He encouraged schools to think about extending school days, school weeks, school years.
He said more money will be dedicated to charter schools than ever before.
But, more than anything, he emphasized how stimulus money will focus on innovation and accountability.
Billions of dollars will be invested in school districts, he said. They must use that money to make a difference in students’ lives. “Just filling holes isn’t going to get us where we want to go,” he said, “even when the holes are large and significant.”
Schools must give students more access to great teachers, after-school programs, and extended learning time. “It isn’t just about money,” he said. “It’s about being more innovative and more creative.”
Schools that don’t follow his guidance, he said, could lose their second round of stimulus dollars, and even give them a disadvantage in future grant fund competitions.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure every dollar is spent wisely,” Duncan said.
And if it is not spent well, he said, “we’re going to come down like a ton of bricks.”