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The Obama Administration: March 1-16, 2010

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This article is the twenty-eighth in a continuing series chronicling the unfolding history of the Obama Administration. The writer's opinions are not offered, leaving the readers to arrive at their own conclusions.

"The bill passed tonight by the Senate will extend access to health care benefits for workers who have lost their jobs, help small businesses get loans so they can grow and hire, and extend unemployment insurance benefits for millions of Americans who are looking for work. I'm grateful to the members of the Senate on both sides of the aisle who worked to end this roadblock to relief for America's working families."__Barack Obama, President of the United States, on U.S. Senate passage of the Temporary Extension Act of 2010, March 2, 2010

Day402/March1st/Monday: The President traveled to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., where he announced new steps in his effort to improve the nation's schools at the America's Promise Alliance education event hosted by Alliance Founding Chairman General Colin Powell and his wife and Alliance Chair Alma Powell. Transcript Video Among those steps:

To access school improvement funds, states and school districts would be required to choose among four reform models to change their lowest-performing schools:

Turnaround Model: Among other actions, the school district must replace the principal and at least half of the school staff, adopt a new governance structure for the school, and implement a new or revised instructional program.

Restart Model: The school district must close and reopen the school under the management of a charter school operator, a charter management organization or an educational management organization selected through a rigorous review process. A restart school would be required to admit, within the grades it serves, any former student who wishes to attend.

School Closure: The school district must close the failing school and enroll the students who attended that school in other, higher-achieving schools in the district.

Transformational Model: The school must address four areas of reform, including (1) developing teacher and school leader effectiveness (and replacing the principal who led the school prior to commencement of the transformational model)

(2) implementing comprehensive instructional reform strategies

(3) extending learning and teacher planning time and creating community-oriented schools

(4) providing operating flexibility and sustained support.

The Obama Administration offered to support effective dropout prevention strategies through $50 million committed to the Graduation Promise Fund and through reforms supported under the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which has passed the U.S. House of Representatives. These efforts include:

Personalized and individualized instruction and support to keep students engaged in their learning and focused on success.

Multiple pathways and credit recovery programs, such as high-quality alternative high schools, transfer schools, or career- and work-based experiences to help students catch-up and keep-up academically, and to get back on track toward a high school diploma.

Better use of data and information to identify and respond to students at risk of failure, and assist with important transitions to high school and college.

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Retired, Robert Arend was president of an AFSCME local from 1997-2007.

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