Bill Gates Unplugged

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dropout Summit: Part 1

A Thankful Eddie Griffin
Tuesday, March 31, 2009

As I give thought of the day, I am thankful and humbled by my friends. On yesterday, my friends came out to the America’s Promise Alliance’s Dropout Summit. And, I saw a lot of love in the room… love for our children, love for ourselves… and, more importantly, love for each other.

Our kids are in good hands in Fort Worth, Texas. Eat your heart out, World.

There they were marching up onto the stage, the Class of 2021, singing a vow to some day march across that latter stage in life, school graduates.

Danna Diaz wiped a tear from her eye, and leaned over to me and whispered, “Where will you be in 2012?” I wept silently also. I thought about my 5-year old granddaughter, the one who always asks, “What did I do wrong?” She, too, is in the Class of 2021.

We talked about the grandkids, Mayor Mike and I, and about how gray we are getting. We both have 9-year old grandsons. This is the Class of 2018. After our being overly drunk on politics, we have sobered up to see what is really important in our life’s work. What will become of our children and our children’s children?

Star-Telegram editorialist Bob Ray Sanders moderated the panel discussion with a panel of teens, one of whom was nicknamed “Knucklehead”. Strange, I thought. For over 20 years, I had dubbed my kids “Dingbats and Knuckleheads”. This was my way of teaching at-risk kids how to learn from their mistakes.

So, Bob Ray and I chewed the fat as usual, going back to elementary school together, him and me. He hasn’t changed a dime.

What’s happening with the newspaper business these days and all these rumors about the Star-Telegram going out of business?

I could swear that boy Bob Ray still got blinders on, with his head to the sky. The future of US newspapers, I explained, is one universal national daily, and subscribing locals for papers and online delivery. (But what the heck, I’m talking to an old school mate from the 1960s and who still does not have a Face Book account.)

And here was my star student Candis Davis joining me at our table. This is the Class of 2009. And typical of a young lady, she is flirting... maybe, maybe not.

“What?” I exclaimed. “I thought you were set on TCU?”

Well, since receiving an acceptance letter from TCU, she has had some other enticing offers, like, for example, Baylor.

“Baylor? That’s in Waco,” I muttered. Oh well, at least one of my high school kids is set on TCU. She, too, is in the Class of 2009, and also a member of the Student Council.

I was amazed the students had a brain trust amongst their group. And, when the voting was done, I found myself voting for the ideas of the kids.

After all, where will I be when they face the challenges of 2012?

Class of 2024

Class of 2019, 2022, and 2024

Dropout Summit Response to Part 1

In looking back over the past weekend’s Dropout Summit, I overlooked Gloria Campos, our illustrious host, and she was offended. This is part of the exchange that brought this to my attention.

From: Campos, Gloria
Subject: RE: Dropout Summit: Part 1
To: Eddie Griffin
Date: Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 3:52 PM

I guess me driving in from Dallas before reporting for work was not note worthy.
Sorry if I disappointed you.

Gloria Campos

WOW! I admit to being too narrowly focused that day at the summit. Plus, Gloria did not look like herself on TV. She was wearing glasses. She probably didn’t see me, the “blind man” in the back, wearing the dark glasses.

Nevertheless, I wrote to apologize, as best I could. After all, it was she, moderating the summit from the podium that said: "it's not about us, but all about the kids.”

So, I wrote:

Gloria, but of course, you were our maiden of honor. We were enriched, charmed, and blessed by your presence. My essay, “Dropout Summit: Part 1” was focused more on the kids, the Class of 2021 to the Class of 2009. It would have been impossible to write about everybody at the summit... Are you jealous, Glory?


I should have known not to ask or add insult to injury. But this was her response:

No I am not, but I know when I've been snubbed...
Gloria Campos Wfaa-TV News Anchor/Reporter

A Confession and Apology to Gloria Campos

After some deep soul-searching, I confess the truth that I paid little attention to Ms. Gloria Campos. The Dropout Summit was a work session for me. So, I was panning the room as she was speaking. There were people I wanted to see and talk to about ongoing business. My bad!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Best Cost-Saving Efficiency Plan

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced today a department-wide action directive challenging every agency, component and office to generate new efficiencies and to promote greater accountability, transparency and customer satisfaction.

“Developing a leaner, smarter and more efficient DHS is a responsibility shared by all agencies, offices and employees across the department,” said Secretary Janet Napolitano. “Transforming DHS will require significant effort and input on everyone’s behalf. But through a unified and sustained effort, we will make lasting and meaningful improvements.”

An Efficiency Review Initiative Steering Committee, composed of key office and component leadership, will be established to coordinate this DHS-wide initiative. The Steering Committee, which will have its initial meeting before the end of the month, will identify and develop strategies to reduce costs, streamline processes, eliminate duplication and improve transparency and customer service.

The action directive requires each agency to initiate an internal review of current efforts related to improving efficiency, which will be incorporated into a department-wide inventory.

When she was Governor of Arizona, Napolitano oversaw a similar initiative resulting in more than $1 billion in savings and cost avoidances for the state government focused on procurement, energy conservation, travel, fleet management, training and electronic communications.


Today the Department took a major step forward to advance one of President Obama's most important goals – improving efficiency and transparency across the Federal government.

Efficiency is essential to effective governance. It helps reduce costs and ensure taxpayer money isn’t wasted. It improves performance and customer satisfaction. And it strengthens employee morale.

Over the next 120 days, we will begin implementing nearly two dozen initiatives to trim costs, streamline operations, eliminate duplication, and better manage resources across the Department.

This effort is the result of a comprehensive assessment by our Efficiency Review team, which worked with DHS components, offices, and employees to identify more than 700 initiatives – some immediate, some long-term – to improve efficiency and transparency.

Among the immediate changes we will make over the next 30 days:

• Eliminating all non-mission critical travel for employees and maximizing our use of conference calls and web-based training and meetings;

• Reducing subscriptions to professional publications and newspapers to lower costs and avoid duplication;

• Eliminating printing and distribution of all reports and documents that can be sent electronically or posted on-line.

Over the next 30 days, we will also begin using purchasing agreements to substantially save on office supplies. This may sound like a small matter, but by leveraging the Department's collective buying power, we can save up to $52 million on office supplies over the next five years.

We're also going to take action to improve how we track and monitor fuel usage for our vehicles. Over the next 60 days, we will begin implementing a new electronic tracking system that will help increase alternative fuel usage; guard against waste, fraud, and abuse; and optimize how we manage our fleet.

In addition, we will begin acquiring hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles over the next 120 days. We expect a 30 percent increase in fuel efficiency in large vehicles, and even greater efficiency in smaller vehicles as a result of this change.

To become more energy efficient, we will also begin implementing energy efficiencies at DHS offices across the country. Over the next 120 days, we will initiate a process to identify and move toward renewable energy technology and greater energy conservation, with a goal of saving $3 million per year.

Over the next 60 days, we will also implement a process to purchase computer software licenses as a single Department – as opposed to individual agencies. As a result, we expect to save over $47 million per year and $283 million over the next six years.

Finally, we’re going to take steps to streamline employee training and orientations, and reduce costs and backlogs associated with background checks for new employees.

This is just the beginning. In the coming months, we’ll announce even more initiatives to improve efficiency. I look forward to keeping you updated as we make these changes, which will result in a stronger, more effective DHS.

Janet Napolitano

Thursday, March 26, 2009

President Barack Obama on the passing of John Hope Franklin

President Barack Obama noted the passing of this history-maker:

Because of the life John Hope Franklin lived, the public service he rendered, and the scholarship that was the mark of his distinguished career, we all have a richer understanding of who we are as Americans and our journey as a people. Dr. Franklin will be deeply missed, but his legacy is one that will surely endure. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to his loved ones, as our nation mourns his loss.

(source: Anderson@Large)

Friday, March 20, 2009

HAT TIP to the Students at Village Academy High School


Out of the mouth of babes never has come a more heart-wrenching testimony of life in America as families sink deeper into financial ruins. They spoke into a video camera that mirrored their painful souls, to an invisible audience, and cried out into the abyss: Is anybody listening?

A compassionate President responded: “You bet! Somebody is listening.” Not only was the President of the United States listening, he went out to California to see them personally.

Never let anyone tell you that your voice cannot reach the pinnacles of power. Even a child has a voice that needs to be heard.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: Saving and Creating Jobs and Reforming Education

In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity— it is a pre-requisite. The countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow.—President Barack Obama, Feb. 24, 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: Saving and Creating Jobs and Reforming Education

March 7, 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provides approximately $100 billion for education, creating a historic opportunity to save hundreds of thousands of jobs, support states and school districts, and advance reforms and improvements that will create long-lasting results for our students and our nation including early learning, K-12, and post-secondary education. This document describes the principles and strategy that will guide the distribution and implementation of the ARRA funds appropriated to the U.S. Department of Education. Accompanying documents provide initial guidelines for three components of ARRA education funding: the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF), Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Title I), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B. Separately, we will issue guidelines on other ARRA funds as they are developed. The Department will periodically provide updated information at

Principles: The overall goals of the ARRA are to stimulate the economy in the short term and invest in education and other essential public services to ensure the long-term economic health of our nation. The success of the education part of the ARRA will depend on the shared commitment and responsibility of students, parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, education boards, college presidents, state school chiefs, governors, local officials, and federal officials. Collectively, we must advance ARRA's short-term economic goals by investing quickly, and we must support ARRA's long-term economic goals by investing wisely, using these funds to strengthen education, drive reforms, and improve results for students from early learning through post-secondary education. Four principles guide the distribution and use of ARRA funds:

a. Spend funds quickly to save and create jobs. ARRA funds will be distributed quickly to states, local educational agencies and other entities in order to avert layoffs, create and save jobs and improve student achievement. States and LEAs in turn are urged to move rapidly to develop plans for using funds, consistent with the law's reporting and accountability requirements, and to promptly begin spending funds to help drive the nation's economic recovery.

b. Improve student achievement through school improvement and reform. ARRA funds should be used to improve student achievement. In addition, the SFSF provides funds to close the achievement gap, help students from all backgrounds achieve high standards, and address four specific areas that are authorized under bipartisan education legislation – including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the America Competes Act of 2007:

1. Making progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities;

2. Establishing pre-K-to college and career data systems that track progress and foster continuous improvement;

3. Making improvements in teacher effectiveness and in the equitable distribution of qualified teachers for all students, particularly students who are most in need;

4. Providing intensive support and effective interventions for the lowest-performing schools.

c. Ensure transparency, reporting and accountability. To prevent fraud and abuse, support the most effective uses of ARRA funds, and accurately measure and track results, recipients must publicly report on how funds are used. Due to the unprecedented scope and importance of this investment, ARRA funds are subject to additional and more rigorous reporting requirements than normally apply to grant recipients.

d. Invest one-time ARRA funds thoughtfully to minimize the "funding cliff." ARRA represents a historic infusion of funds that is expected to be temporary. Depending on the program, these funds are available for only two to three years. These funds should be invested in ways that do not result in unsustainable continuing commitments after the funding expires.

Categories of funds and schedule for distribution: Balancing the need for speedy investments and for rigorous accountability and transparency, the Department has designed the following approaches for distributing different categories of funds. Some funds will be distributed in stages to states on a formula basis and then distributed from states to local education agencies (LEAs) or institutions of higher education (IHEs) for use over the next two school years (2009–10 and 2010–11); some funds will be distributed all at once; some funds will be distributed through a competitive grant process.

The ARRA Pell grant and work study funding will be used for school year 2009–2010. These funds are available, pending disbursement, beginning July 1.

Pell Grants—$17.1 billion. This will increase the maximum Pell award for all eligible students from $4,850 to $5,350.

Work Study—$200 million.

The funds under the SFSF, Title I, Part A and IDEA, Part B will be available in two stages. Funds from these very large programs are to be delivered by formula from the Department to the states. The Department will release 50 percent of Title I, Part A and 50 percent of IDEA, Part B funds before the end of March 2009, without requiring new state applications. Streamlined, user-friendly applications for the initial 67 percent of the SFSF will be available to governors by the end of March, and funds will be made available by the Department within two weeks after receipt of an approvable application. For these three categories of funds, we expect to make available the remainder of the funds during the period July 1 to Sept. 30, 2009, conditioned on states providing additional information. The guidelines for securing these funds will be available on our Web site at

SFSF delivered to the state governors ($48.6 billion)
$39.8 billion is devoted to public early learning, K-12, and higher education. This amount must be distributed by formulae from the state to local education agencies and through a mechanism determined by the state to institutions of higher education.

$8.8 billion is allocated to governors for education (including school modernization), public safety, or other government services.

Title I, Part A ($10 billion) to State educational agencies.

IDEA, Part B ($11.7 billion) to State educational agencies.

A minimum of 50 percent of the funds for the following programs will also be available by the end of March as soon as guidelines are issued:

IDEA, Part C ($500 million).

Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants ($540 million).
For the following programs under $500 million, all of the formula funds will be available by the end of March:

Impact Aid Construction ($100 million: only 40 percent will be distributed by formula; 60 percent will be distributed through competitive grants at a later date).

Independent Living Services ($140 million: only $52.5 million will be distributed by formula; remaining $87.5 will be distributed by competitive grants at a later date).

Education for Homeless Youth ($70 million).
For the following programs, funds will be made available beginning in fall 2009, and will be conditioned upon receipt of further information that will be outlined in future guidance:

Title I School Improvement Grants ($3 billion).
Educational Technology State Grants ($650 million).
The following funds will be made available beginning in fall 2009, based on the quality of the applications submitted through a competitive grant process. Guidelines for these funds will be posted shortly:

Teacher Incentive Fund ($200 million).
Teacher Quality Enhancement ($100 million).
Statewide Data Systems ($250 million).

Under the $5 billion in SFSF reserved for the Secretary of Education to make competitive grants, the Department will conduct a national competition among states for a $4.35 billion state incentive "Race to the Top" fund to improve education quality and results statewide. The Race to the Top fund will help states drive substantial gains in student achievement by supporting states making dramatic progress on the four reform goals described above and effectively using other ARRA funds. $650 million of the $5 billion will be set aside in the "Invest in What Works and Innovation" fund and be available through a competition to districts and non-profit groups with a strong track record of results. Guidelines and applications for the competitive funds will be posted expeditiously. Race to the Top grants will be made in two rounds—fall 2009 and spring 2010).

In the coming months, the Department will also announce opportunities to compete for discretionary funds under non-ARRA programs. The priorities for these competitions will be aligned with the reform goals of the Race to the Top fund, and will recognize states and LEAs that optimize the use of the varied funding streams provided under ARRA. In addition, the Department will identify technical assistance resources to help states and localities effectively implement the most promising and evidence-based reforms using all relevant federal, state, and local resources. With federal funds available for R&D, the Department also hopes to work with schools to support rigorous testing of interventions that states and districts support with ARRA funds, to build the knowledge base about what works.

What must states do to receive SFSF, Title I, Part A and IDEA, Part B funds? States will receive initial Title I, Part A and IDEA, Part B funds under pre-existing applications. For the first round of state stabilization funds, governors must provide three things:

Assurances that they are advancing the four reforms described in the statute and complying with maintenance of effort requirements;
Baseline data on their current status in each of these areas; and
Basic information on how the funds will be used.

The Department intends to provide governors with a streamlined, user-friendly, initial SFSF application package.

For the second round of funds, state educational agencies (SEAs) must provide information regarding their ability to meet reporting requirements under the ARRA under Title I, Part A and IDEA, Part B. In the case of the SFSF, governors must provide plans outlining the state's plans and progress in the four reform areas described above. As part of its application for the second part of the SFSF, a state must describe how the state and its LEAs plan to use SFSF and other funding in a fiscally prudent way that substantially improves teaching and learning. Governors and chief state school officers should work closely with other state and local officials in the state to develop effective data reporting systems and plans that will meet the assurances required by SFSF.

Conclusion: This distribution strategy balances the need for speed and economic stimulus with the need for aggressive and effective education improvement and reform in order to drive our nation's long-term economic well-being. It provides significant resources quickly while giving states and local educational agencies time to carefully plan thoughtful use of funds. It seeks to align the use of the funds provided through SFSF, Title I, IDEA and state incentive grants, with the purposes of prudent investment under the ARRA and improving student achievement. Success will depend on the quality of leadership, judgment, coordination, and communication of all involved. It represents a historic opportunity to restore America's global leadership in education.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Education Department to Distribute $44 Billion in Stimulus Funds

$49 Billon More to Be Available within 6 months

March 7, 2009

Contact: Sandra Abrevaya
or John McGrath
(202) 401-1576

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced that $44 billion in stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will be available to states in the next 30 to 45 days. The first round of funding will help avert hundreds of thousands of estimated teacher layoffs in schools and school districts while driving crucial education improvements, reforms, and results for students.

"These funds will be distributed as quickly as possible to save and create jobs and improve education, and will be invested as transparently as possible so we can measure the impact in the classroom," said Duncan. "Strict reporting requirements will ensure that Americans know exactly how their money is being spent and how their schools are being improved."

Guidelines posted by Duncan today authorize the release this month of half the Title I, Part A stimulus funds, amounting to $5 billion, and half the funds for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), $6 billion, without new applications.

By the end of March, governors will be able to apply for 67 percent of the State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (SFSF) and discretionary SFSF, totaling $32.5 billion. These funds will be released within two weeks after approvable applications are received.

In the next 30 days, nearly $700 million more will be available for various programs including vocational rehabilitation state grants and impact aid construction, Duncan said. Another $17.3 billion for Pell Grants and work-study funds is available for disbursement for the next academic year beginning July 1.

An additional $35 billion in Title 1, IDEA, and State Fiscal Stabilization Funds, as well as monies for other programs will be distributed between July 1 and September 30.

ARRA funds must be used to improve student achievement. To receive the first round of state stabilization funds, states must commit to meet ARRA requirements, including making progress on four key education reforms, sharing required baseline data, and meeting record-keeping and transparency requirements. To receive the second round of funding, they must provide evidence and plans for progress on these assurances. All four education reforms were previously authorized under bipartisan education legislation—including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the America Competes Act of 2007:

Raising standards through college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities;

Increasing transparency by establishing better data systems tracking student progress over time;

Improving teacher effectiveness and ensuring an equitable supply and distribution of qualified teachers;

Supporting effective intervention strategies for lowest-performing schools.

Finally, a $5 billion fund has been established under the law for the Department of Education. This includes a $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" fund to help states with bold plans to improve student achievement—including these four reforms—and $650 million to assist school districts and non-profit organizations with strong track records of improving student achievement. State grants will go out in two rounds over the next year, beginning in October 2009. Applications will be available later in the spring.

"These investments will save and create jobs in the short term, while raising achievement in the long term," Duncan said. "We will need a strong commitment on the front end and even stronger proof on the back end that states are making progress."
Duncan also said that states should work hard to avoid "funding cliffs" by investing ARRA funds in ways that minimize "the tail"—i.e., ongoing costs after the funding expires.

"These are one-time funds, and state and school officials need to find the best way to stretch every dollar and spend the money in ways that protect and support children without carrying continuing costs," Duncan said.

Additional details, including a category-by-category list of all ARRA funds appropriated to the Department of Education, as well as requirements and plans for their distribution are posted at

"Our goals are to save jobs and improve education. Today's guidelines show exactly how we can do both—balancing the need for a speedy release of funds with the need for aggressive and thoughtful school improvements and reform to improve results for our children," Duncan said.

Promethean Board demonstration