The U.S. Department of Education announced the start of the $150 million 2013 Investing in Innovation (i3) grant competition today with the release of the program's invitation for pre-applications for the i3 "Development" grant category and the notice of final priorities for the i3 program overall. Today's announcement incorporates several improvements the Department has made to the grant competition in its efforts to support school districts and nonprofit organizations in partnership with schools to pursue innovative ideas that increase student success.
The Development category, which funds grantees with promising but relatively untested ideas, has been the most popular of the three grant categories throughout the previous three i3 competitions.
In addition, this year the Department has modified the competition to assist grantees in building meaningful private-sector support. The i3 competition requires all grantees to secure private-sector matching funds; i3 Development grantees must secure a private-sector match comprising 15 percent of their budget. Each highest-rated applicant, as identified by the Department following peer review of the full applications, must submit evidence of 50 percent of the required private-sector match prior to the awarding of an i3 grant by the end of the year. The i3 grantees must then provide evidence of the remaining 50 percent of the required private-sector match no later than six months after the project start date.
This is currently how education is delivered and developed. Your local state/district's decisions are dictated by the federal tier. The Federal Government is giving out grants for untested ideas (think Common Core State Standards) to provide outcomes the USDOEd requires. The priorities for this new grant are taken from Race to the Top. Even if your state didn't win RTTT grant money, your state/district still has a chance to implement these goals/objectives in your state via more Federal grant money:
- Improving the Effectiveness of Teachers or Principals;
- Improving Low-Performing Schools;
- Improving Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education;
- Improving Academic Outcomes for Students with Disabilities;
- Improving Academic Outcomes for English Learners (ELs);
- Improving Parent and Family Engagement;
- Effective Use of Technology;
- Serving Rural Communities
The interesting difference between the original RTTT grant and this grant is the requirement of private-sector matching funds. The Federal government is setting educational direction/development and requiring private sector funding to implement programs within the Federal government's blueprint.
This is similar to the development of Common Core STATE standards. The Federal government gave stimulus funding to the NGA and CCSSO (two private trade organizations) to set standards within the parameters of USDOE requirements. The standards must be common for data retrieval and updates to state longitudinal data systems. Is it any surprise FERPA regulations were revised by the US Department of Education to allow the free exchange of information between states?
Did you believe the standards were really state led? Would the US Department of Education grant federal dollars for programs that didn't meet the USDOE's requirements or work against the stated desire of the USDOE?
The sustainability of the USDOE's educational agenda must have a buy in from the private sector which may not be concerned with WHAT educational services it is providing. WHAT is taught is irrelevant to the private sector. It has been told what needs to be delivered and private firms are happy to take the federal dollars to do so. It's the perfect plan for How to Sustain a Nationalized Educational System. Turn it Over to 501(c)(3) Groups for Outsourcing:
Twenty million students are expected to take the SBAC assessments on-line. There needs to be technical and professional support for this system going forward. Both SBAC and PARCC were funded with seed money from TARP. This money will run out September 30, 2014. Any remaining unused funds will revert to the US Treasury. Both consortia must now figure out how to make the assessments sustainable by finding other funding sources.
The first RFP for a consultant to take on this work received zero bids because SBAC had grossly underestimated the effort needed to do the work. They are now looking to identify areas of commonality with the other assessment consortia, PARCC, and see if the two groups can share a consultant on those common points. It is not a stretch to see that these two groups are probably going to have to combine in the future in order to remain sustainable. Then we will truly have national standards.
The plan is to go to private foundations to fund Phase 2.