National Public Ed Updates

The two biggest public education stories seem to be the opt-out movement and the reauthorization of NCLB. 

Students in New Mexico have been rising up to opt-out of testing.  Here's what happened to one middle school girl who let her fellow students know about their options via The Blaze:

Because she feels the standardized test is “setting us up for failure,” Silva started handing out the opt-out forms on Thursday.

“They started pulling the fliers out from the kids’ hands,” Silva told KRQE-TV.

The eight-grader was then taken to the principal’s office, where she reportedly waited for nearly an hour and a half when she should have been in class. But the student didn’t actually break any rules — the opt-out form is even available on the school district’s website.

The school then suspended her for one day.  Unbelievable.

From NPR's Here and Now show on opting out of testing with an interview with Morna McDermott, founding organizer of the United Opt-Out group:

Pennsylvania saw a five-fold increase in parents “opting out” over the past three years. In New York, some 67,000 students – 5 percent of all students – sat out the statewide math test.

But individual states aren’t waiting for Washington to give them instructions. Just this week, a Maine lawmaker proposed a bill that requires schools to let parents know that they have the right to “opt out.”

From the interview portion:

You know, it doesn’t necessarily access all of the other measures that enable us to be competitive as a nation. 

“The number one determining factor of how well you will do on your standardized test is your zip code.”
“For example, we didn’t really rely on standardized testing for much of anything prior to No Child Left Behind. So, how on earth is it that we became this global empire, the top dog, before we ever had standardized testing drive our curriculum? 

Another story that is changing almost daily is the saga of NCLB and its rewrite.

NCLB expired in 2007. The current push to update the law is the first serious attempt at reauthorization since then, but there’s only a short window to rewrite it before the 2016 elections are fully underway and legislative work slows.

In a stunning turn of events, Politico is reporting that yesterday,  House Speaker John Boehner was unable to muster the Republican votes in the House over the rewrite of NCLB.   (There was huge in-fighting over the money for Homeland Security that seemed to take the focus off of NCLB.) 

The House passed a nearly identical bill in 2013, but discontent with the Common Core academic standards and concerns about federal government intrusion have grown, and conservatives have said they want to get more out of an education bill in the newly Republican-controlled Congress. That left House leadership facing new criticism from the right because the GOP bill omits school vouchers, radical reductions to federal mandates and other right-wing proposals.

Kline needed a bill that would pass the House with support from moderates. He has made clear that a bill with private school vouchers would not have the votes to pass the chamber and would not fly with President Barack Obama, who has threatened to veto the House version of the bill.

The Senate is working on their own bill (and, if both pass in their respective chambers, then both chambers will fashion a compromise bill). 

Kline has been coordinating his approach with Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, but the Senate leader is on a very different track than Kline. He’s negotiating with committee Ranking Member Sen. Patty Murray on a bipartisan bill that they hope can clear the chamber. Alexander has insisted he’s optimistic about his chances of striking a deal with Murray and wants to get a bill in front of the committee by mid-March.
Republicans want to cede more control to states and localities to make decisions on education and dump many defined programs.
 To Democrats and the civil rights community, stripping the federal role out of education would signal a return to times before No Child Left Behind, when many states didn’t even collect data about the achievement gap between poor and minority students and their peers. Democrats want the bill to retain strong accountability measures and would like to see a new title in the bill devoted to early education.

 This from the Center for American Progress:

In the first days of the 114th Congress, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)—chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions—placed K-12 education at the top of his agenda. His goal is to quickly reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA—currently known as the No Child Left Behind Act—and, ultimately, to dismantle what he calls the “national school board.” 

To mitigate the negative impact of concentrated poverty, the federal government allocates billions of dollars to states per year through Title I, Part A, of ESEA based on the number and concentration of students living in poverty. The funds are then distributed to districts following the same process. The goal of Title I is to provide low-income students attending schools with high concentrations of other economically disadvantaged students with additional financial support.

Most egregiously, the bill proposed by Chairman Alexander eliminates the targeting of federal dollars to schools and districts with the highest concentrations of low-income students. 

Using the fiscal year 2014 allocations for school districts, the Center for American Progress analyzed the impact that portability would have had on students last year. We compared how much districts would have received under portability with how much they actually received under current policy. In our analysis, we made the following key findings:
  1. Portability actually drives resources away from high-poverty districts and into more affluent ones.
  2. Nationally, districts with high concentrations of poverty could lose an average of around $85 per student.
  3. On average, the most affluent districts could gain more than $290 per student.


Krystal said…
Great post, Thanks for sharing!
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vinhdlp said…
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