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How Many Times Can the U. S. Department of Education Squeeze the Word "Research" Into a Press Release?

Ohanian Comment: This piece is, of course, total puffery. One might ask What does the Milken Family Foundation know that colleges of education don't?

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- As part of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, Deputy Under Secretary of Education for Innovation and Improvement Nina S. Rees today presented a $1.8 million grant to the Milken Family Foundation to expand its Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) -- a comprehensive, research-based strategy to enhance student performance through high quality teachers -- in Arkansas, Arizona and South Carolina. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Janinne Riggs, assistant director for school improvement and professional development at the state Department of Education, joined Rees as she presented the award to Lewis Solmon, executive vice president, education, and director, teacher advancement program for the Milken Family Foundation, following a TAP demonstration event at Stephens Elementary School in Little Rock.

"This partnership is a perfect match," Deputy Under Secretary Rees said. "Milken is dedicated to providing high-quality teachers in every classroom, helping improve student achievement and creating opportunities for children. And Secretary Paige and President Bush are committed to ensuring that every child has the best possible instruction by strengthening teacher quality through the No Child Left Behind Act.

"The Milken Family Foundation has long believed that the most effective way to help children succeed academically is to ensure that every child has a high-quality teacher every year he or she is in school," Milken Foundation Chairman Lowell Milken said. "We are pleased to join forces with the U.S. Department of Education and others to sustain and expand the Teacher Advancement Program as we continue to make progress toward the goal of ensuring that all children are afforded a rigorous educational experience."

No Child Left Behind is the landmark education reform law designed to change the culture of America's schools by closing the achievement gap, offering more flexibility, giving parents more options and teaching students based on what works.

The $1.8 million grant will be used to enhance the Teacher Advancement Program and increase teacher quality and effectiveness in Arizona, Arkansas and South Carolina. Nationally, the grant will impact 25 schools, nearly 1,000 teachers and 12,000 students. Arkansas will receive $581,200 for 14 elementary and middle schools in Van Buren, Little Rock, Lincoln, Rogers and Nettleton counties.

The Teaching Advancement Program is the Milken Family Foundation's research-based reform model to attract, retain and motivate talented people to the teaching profession. More than 2,000 educators and nearly 25,000 students benefit from TAP, which is being implemented in more than 50 schools across the country, including 14 Arkansas elementary and middle schools.

The grant is from the Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Education, which supports nationally significant programs and projects to improve the quality of education, and to help all students meet challenging standards. Activities funded by FIE grants provide professional curriculum and assessment development and demonstration programs aimed at improving elementary and secondary education.

TAP is designed to draw the best people to the teaching profession -- and keep them there -- by making it more attractive and rewarding to be a teacher. Under the TAP system, good teachers can earn higher salaries and advance professionally, just as in other careers, and they can do it without leaving the classroom, where they often are needed most. At the same time, this program helps teachers become the best they can be by providing opportunities to learn better teaching strategies and by holding them accountable for their performance.

Individual educators at TAP schools will benefit from the funding through stipends and performance awards. Mentor and master teachers receive stipends in addition to their base pay for added leadership and responsibilities and all educators are eligible for performance-based bonuses based on their professional practices as judged by the principal, a master teacher and another certified instructor, as well as their students' academic achievements and the school's overall academic progress. These awards average approximately $2,500 per teacher, although they have the potential to earn significantly more.

On Tuesday, Secretary Paige announced a national commitment to celebrate teachers and the teaching profession with a series of initiatives designed to assist states and educators in meeting the highly qualified teacher requirements of No Child Left Behind. The centerpiece of the outreach effort is the new Teacher Assistance Corps, a team of education experts, researchers and practitioners who will provide voluntary support to states as they carry out the highly qualified teacher provisions of the law.

The announcement came as Paige sent to Congress his second annual report on states' teacher quality initiatives, "Meeting the Highly Qualified Teachers Challenge." The report is available at www.title2.org.

"Teachers are the heroes of the classroom, who are on the front line day after day, week after week, dedicated to meeting the needs of each child in their classroom," Secretary Paige said. "This is by no means a simple task -- youngsters have a wide range of learning styles that, in turn, require teachers to employ a wide array of teaching techniques, to use a variety of materials and to be constantly creative. President Bush and I stand behind our classroom teachers with the greatest respect and support as they carry out the daunting and imperative goal of ensuring that each child experiences the joy of learning and that not a single one is left behind."

Under No Child Left Behind, highly qualified teachers must hold at least a bachelor's degree, have full state certification or licensure and have demonstrated competence in their subject areas. However, states also have the flexibility to develop alternative certification methods to enable veteran teachers to show they have the content knowledge to be successful in the classroom. This evaluation may include a teacher's experience, success as measured by student test scores, credit from classes or high-quality professional development experiences and other evaluations. Core subjects are defined as English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, the arts, history and geography.

President Bush's 2004 budget proposal includes a commitment of more than $4 billion in federal funding to help states prepare, recruit and retain teachers in order to meet the highly qualified teacher requirements.

— U. S. Department of Education
Education Department Awards $1.8 Million in Grants to Milken Family Foundation's Teacher Advancement Program
U. S. Department of Education Press Release
July 17, 2003
http://www.ed.gov/PressReleases/07-2003/07172003.html


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