Articles tagged with Congress

NSBA President speaks on unfunded mandates

The National School Board Association’s (NSBA) President C. Ed Massey, a member of the Boone County, Ky., school board, spoke to his local Rotary Club about the need to relieve local school systems from inflexible federal laws that do not come with enough funding to successfully implement.

Massey explained the need for local school board members and other education advocates to become involved in lobbying their members of Congress in a presentation to members of the Florence, Ky. Rotary Club last week.

“A lot of congressional members just get snippets of information,” he said in a story published at the Cincinnati Enquirer’s community website. “Because they are not educators, they don’t understand the issues in depth.”

The Boone County school board and members of the Kentucky School Boards Association have recently worked with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on issues related to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|July 23rd, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Educational Finance, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Legislative advocacy, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA urges action on ESEA, organizes “call-in day”

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is urging the U.S. Congress to complete its reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act before it adjourns later this year.

Through its “ESEA Now” campaign, NSBA is urging school board members and other educators to contact their Washington representatives on Wednesday, May 9 to push for an overhaul of the law, which is now five years past due. The House and Senate education committees have passed bills that, while not perfect, would be a large improvement over the existing law. NSBA is calling on both chambers to pass these bills and quickly reconcile their differences.

“Nobody believes that the No Child Left Behind law is working the way it was intended, and Congress needs to complete its work and relieve all schools from its flawed accountability measures,” said NSBA President C. Ed Massey, a member of the Boone County Board of Education in Kentucky. “We need to move toward a system that emphasizes 21st century skills and common core standards rather than testing and ineffective sanctions.”

Working with a coalition of nine other major organizations of state and local government officials, NSBA also is calling on Congressional leaders to move forward now on a floor vote for ESEA reauthorization.

A resolution passed by NSBA’s Delegate Assembly, which includes state association leaders representing the more than 90,000 school board members across the country, last month urges Congress to include the following provisions in a comprehensive reauthorization:

  • Ensure states and local school districts have greater flexibility to make educationally sound decisions, and be free of mandates that unnecessarily or counterproductively hinder school districts from achieving their goals (i.e., mandating the expansion of charter schools and standardized tests as a measure of accountability, and conditioning federal funding on the adoption of state-led common core standards);
  • Ensure the accountability systems accurately and fairly report student, school, and school district performance; Ensure high-quality, valid, and reliable assessments for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities;
  • Support the use of multiple measures of academic achievement that will more accurately determine students’ knowledge and performance that reflect a well-rounded education necessary to be successful in the 21st century economy, as opposed to judging success on their performance on a single assessment;
  • Permit the use of growth models and other measures of student achievement that more accurately reflect student and school performance; Facilitate strategic interventions that are designed at the local or state level and are targeted to students and schools most in need, rather than impose ineffective and costly sanctions;
  • Provide support to states and school districts and ensure their flexibility to establish programs to enhance teacher/principal quality focusing on preparation, recruitment, retention, and evaluation;
  • Provide support to school districts to give all children, including migratory children, the opportunity to reach their full potential;
  • Support efforts by school districts, through a separate funding stream, to develop, expand, coordinate, and enhance the quality and availability of voluntary preschool programs for all 3- and 4-year old children; and
  • Fully fund the law, along with other federal assistance programs that are critical to successfully achieving the goals of the new law, and limit the expansion of competitive grants where such expansion would result in level funding of formula-based grants so critical to students in poverty.

 

Alexis Rice|May 8th, 2012|Categories: Elementary and Secondary Education Act, High Schools, Policy Formation, School Boards, School Reform, Student Achievement|Tags: , , |

The week in blogs: Obama’s education budget (abridged)

Want to get the high points of President Obama’s K12 budget — that is, without sifting through all the numbers and the fine print? Read the Quick and the Ed post by Rikesh Nana on the “three key takeaways” from the Administration’s proposal. It’s an excellent synopsis of what the president is proposing and what it all means.

So what are those takeaways? In order: consolidation of Department of Education programs (something that’s been tried in past budgets but never adopted): continued funding of Race to the Top and other competitive grant programs; and — in the absence of congressional action — an administration-sponsored overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

OK, sports fans, this next column is not about Jeremy Lin. (But if we find one on the New York Knicks sensation that has to do with K12 education, we promise to include it next week.) Instead, Eduwonk’s Andrew Rotherham looks at the firing — and quick rehiring by another team — of NHL hockey coach Bruce Boudreau and what that says about the importance of professional “fit.” Hint: It applies to teaching as well as big-time sports.

Been to Cleveland recently? Even if you haven’t, or have no plans to do so, you’ll want to check out another interesting Quick and the Ed blog on the city’s “portfolio” system of managing schools. Schools would operate with greater or lesser autonomy depending on their performance. “Charter schools as well as district-operated ones would participate,” says the blog by Richard Lee Colvin, “with the goal of giving families a real choice among several good options in every neighborhood.”

Lastly, check out Mark Bauerlein of the Chronicle of Higher Education on the attitudes and academic habits of college freshman. Here’s an interesting paradox (actually a bunch of paradoxes): more than 70 percent of students placed their academic ability in the “highest 10 percent” or “above average,” but only 45 percent felt that confident about their math ability, and just 46 percent believed they were that stellar in writing.

Lawrence Hardy|February 17th, 2012|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Budgeting, Charter Schools, Educational Legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, School Reform, Student Achievement, Teachers, Week in Blogs|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

NSBA advocates for ESEA revamp

The National School Boards Association (NSBA), along with four other state and local government organization, are urging Congress to reform the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and enact legislation that would reframe the federal-state-local partnership before the next school year begins.

In a letter sent to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate committees responsible for K-12 education, the groups called for greater flexibility for local leaders, increased flexibility in the spending of federal funds, and recognition of the budget constraints facing states and localities.

“It is important to local school districts that Congress reauthorizes ESEA now and replaces the current accountability system that neither accurately nor fairly reflects the performance of students, schools or school districts,” said NSBA’s  Executive Director Anne L. Bryant. “Local school districts must be free of federal mandates that unnecessarily or counterproductively hinder them from achieving their goals of increasing student achievement. It is essential that local school districts have greater authority and flexibility to develop, design and implement educational strategies to address the unique challenges facing our local communities.”

In a separate letter to John Kline, chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, NSBA, the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), and five other national education organizations expressed concern about portions of two draft bills before the House dealing with ESEA reauthorization. Among the groups’ concerns are: an expansion of federal voucher programs, a diminished focus on professional development for school staffs, and a cap on Title I increases.

 

Alexis Rice|February 9th, 2012|Categories: Assessment, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Student Achievement|Tags: , |

The week in blogs

My favorite response to the Heritage Foundation’s controversial study that teachers just aren’t as, well, smart as your typical college grad and, therefore, are way overpaid is this Modest Proposal from a reader of Jonathan Chait’s New York Magazine blog:

“How about we just don’t pay teachers anything at all and hope for the best possible outcome. That’s my kind of public policy.”

Ours too! And we have a think tank we want you to join.

Seriously, it’s fairly well known that education majors don’t score as highly on standardized tests, on average, as graduates in other fields. So, while some may consider such a study offensive and counterproductive, one could argue that there’s a certain logic in trying to compare wages by cognitive ability.

On the other hand, there’s a lot more that goes into teaching than test scores, many teachers enter the field from other majors; and cutting teacher salaries, as the report’s authors suggest, seems to be the last thing you’d want to do improve the profession. Finally, after an unprecedented year of public employee — and, especially, teacher — bashing, it’s disturbing to see teachers as targets once again.

For other views on the study, see Time magazine; former Washington D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee (via Politico), and a response by report co-author Andrew Biggs.

A lot of grand ideas come out of Washington, emanating from think tanks such as Heritage and, of course, from government itself. Right now, Congress is taking a critical look at one of the biggest “grand ideas” — No Child Left Behind — struggling to preserve its goal of higher achievement for all while revising or abolishing its more onerous mandates.

That’s what’s happening here; for a view of what it was like in the trenches, read Mandy Newport, a former teacher, NSBA Center for Public Education intern, and graduate student in education policy at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., as she describes the real-world impact of NCLB.

“No chalkboard space was left in classrooms because we were required to use that space to hang standards and essential questions. Science and social studies were taken away for the younger grades and replaced with test taking skills for an hour a day … Lesson plans had to be a certain font and size and were on a template given to teachers by the district.”

But if we just paid teachers less…..

Finally, read Newport’s evenhanded — and largely positive — review of Denver’s ProComp Pay for Performance plan.

Lawrence Hardy|November 4th, 2011|Categories: Center for Public Education, Curriculum, Educational Research, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Teachers, Week in Blogs|Tags: , , , , , |

The week in blogs

Reauthorizing the federal education bill has been a little like the reverse of that old saying:  “hurry up and wait.” No, when it comes to renewing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) — something that was supposed to happen, oh, four years ago — it’s been more like: “wait — now hurry up.”

The hurry-up happened Thursday, when the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, voted 15 to 7 to approve a bill that greatly reduces the federal role by dispensing with a complicated and flawed accountability system for determining which schools need “improvement” and which do not.

That, and many other provisions of the bill, were welcomed by NSBA, state school boards associations, and school districts that had been laboring under the strictures of ESEA’s latest iteration: No Child Left Behind. But while NSBA was happy about that — and pleased that, after waiting so long, the Senate was finally addressing these issues — it cautioned against moving too fast in committee on a bill that still has a lot of bugs.

“The bill also contains many operationally unrealistic features that will need to be addressed,” NSBA Associate Executive Director Michael A. Resnick wrote in a letter to the committee this week. “For example, it contains extensive data collection and reporting requirements, as well as overbearing specificity in several key programs areas that cross well into the micro-management of our schools.”

 NSBA didn’t get the delay in the mark-up it wanted, but the committee did accede to a call from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, to hold a hearing on the bill on Nov. 8.

The blogosphere has been all over the map on this process, and, rather than try to make sense of it myself, I’m going to just give you the links and … .well, you can tell me what it all means. For starters, there was the unusual agreement between Paul, a Tea Party favorite, and liberal blogger Susan Ohanian, about the need for more time.

Then there was the Progressive Policy Institute – from the so-called reformist camp – charging that the law, as currently revised, “guts school accountability.”

Alexander Russo, of This Week in Education, asked “where was [Arne] Duncan?” He said the education secretary didn’t press the committee for a bill with a more robust federal role. Meanwhile, at the Fordham Institute, Mike Petrilli said much the opposite, asserting that Duncan’s influence helped make it all happen (so far). Petrilli also called the bill an improvement over the current law.

So reaction was indeed divided, which is not surprising given the complexity of the issues and the laborious process itself. But will there be a finished product soon, and will it pass?

Not likely, Education Sector’s Anne Hyslop told the Christian Science Monitor. With this divided and sometimes sclerotic Congress, she doesn’t see a bill passing the House until well after the 2012 campaign.

Lawrence Hardy|October 21st, 2011|Categories: Elementary and Secondary Education Act, School Reform, Week in Blogs|Tags: , , , , , , , |

U.S. House passes misguided charter schools bill

NSBA expressed disappointment yesterday with the recent vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to provide $300 million in additional federal funds to support charter schools.

On Tuesday, the House voted 365 to 54 in favor of H.R. 2218, the Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act, which expands a federal program to provide state grants for charter school start-ups. NSBA had urged members of Congress to reject the bill.

“This flawed legislation lacks accountability by allowing independent charter sponsorship and is extremely costly in this current economic environment,” said Michael A. Resnick, NSBA’s associate executive director for federal advocacy and public policy.

Although supportive of charter schools, NSBA questioned a number of provisions in the House legislation—and shared those concerns with House members in the days and weeks prior to Tuesday’s vote.

One concern was the priority placed on states using multiple authorizers for charter schools. NSBA’s position is that, to ensure proper accountability, local school boards should be responsible for sponsoring charter schools—and they must have the authority to decertify or not renew the charter of any school that fails to demonstrate improved student achievement.

“Local board sponsorship of charter schools creates a positive synergy between the traditional schools and charters, while charters sponsored by entities other than the local school board frequently result in alienation and negative competition among local schools,” Resnick said.

Another concern about the bill, NSBA argued, was that it fails to specifically direct that charter schools will “abide by the same environmental, labor, due process, and fiscal laws that public schools must.”

Supporters of H.R. 2218 garnered strong bipartisan support by including language in the bill to encourage charter schools to share “best practices” with public schools—and to expand enrollment opportunities to more disadvantaged students. But the legislation’s future remains unclear. It is just one of a series of bills that the House Republican leadership intends to consider as part of a piecemeal approach to the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Meanwhile, the Senate leadership is working on a single comprehensive reauthorization bill, and the New York Times reports that “most people involved in the process say profound partisan disagreements will make it difficult for the two chambers to coalesce around a single rewrite, perhaps until after the 2012 elections.”

As the legislative process continues, NSBA will continue to urge caution in the rush to expand the number of charter schools nationwide.

“Given that only 17 percent of charters outperform traditional public schools, where the majority of our American school children attend, the cost benefit of investing $300 million into this effort rather than into programs within traditional public schools is not justifiable,” Resnick says.

“Instead, Congress must focus on investing in and improving traditional public schools that are currently facing budget shortfalls, laying off teachers, and cutting programs that advance student achievement.”

For more information about the policy implications surrounding charter schools, local school officials can turn to the 2010 report: Charter Schools: Finding Out the Facts released by NSBA’s Center for Public Education.

Del Stover|September 14th, 2011|Categories: Center for Public Education, Charter Schools, Educational Legislation|Tags: , , |

Late graduates to be counted

Note: This entry was orignially posted on National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Center for Public Education’s blog The Edifier.

It took awhile but states will finally be able to count those students who take longer than four years to earn a high school diploma (late graduates) as graduates through a common graduation rate formula that all states must use starting this summer. NSBA has been fighting for this change ever since the Center released its Better Late Than Never: Examining late high school graduates report over two and half years ago which showed that late graduate’s were more successful after high school in terms of earning a college degree, finding a good job, civic engagement and living healthier than those students who earned a GED or never earned a high school credential. As a matter for fact, late graduates’ postsecondary outcomes outcomes did not differ much from those students who graduated on-time. So there was little reason why late graduates shouldn’t have been counted as graduates.

The adoption of the common rate enables states to report an extended-year rate which would include late graduates that are currently not counted in most state gradation rates. In a press release announcing the common rate the U.S. Department of Education declared:

States may also opt to use an extended-year adjusted cohort, allowing states, districts and schools to account for students who complete high school in more than four years.

Moreover, in the release Secretary Arne Duncan stated that a common rate “…will also encourage states to account for students who need more than four years to earn a diploma.”

This is a major step forward in giving districts credit where credit is due by counting all students who earn a standard high school diploma as graduates not just those who earn a diploma in four years. However, how districts get credit, if any, for their late graduates under Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) / No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and most state accountability systems is still unclear. Hopefully Congress will reauthorize ESEA soon and put into law that indeed late graduates are graduates even for accountability sake.

Jim Hull|July 29th, 2011|Categories: Center for Public Education, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, High Schools, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Reports, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , , , |

The week in blogs

Should we be paying school board members who serve in large school districts? Lynne K. Varner, a columnist for the Seattle Times, thinks so. Citing the growing complexity of K12 education and the increasing demands on board members’ times, Varner says it’s time for Seattle to follow the lead of cities like Los Angeles, which pays board members $46,000 but requires that they not take other jobs. She cites NSBA’s School Boards Circa 2010 for her statistics.

I see where she’s coming from, but I doubt that the LA schools’ payment system has much to do with how well the system is governed. And $46,000 doesn’t sound like a lot to raise a family on in the LA area.

Have you heard any of NPR’s series this week on dropouts in America? It’s pretty disturbing but very well done. Joanne Jacob comments on it in her blog, “Linking and Thinking on Education.”

Elsewhere in the news, it’s been a tough week for President Obama, who can’t seem to get Congress to agree on a bill to increase the debt ceiling. Adding insult to injury, the leaders of the “Save Our Schools” rally in Washington apparently turned down a meeting with the president as well.

Speaking of the debt crisis and Congress’ apparent paralysis, The Onion, a satiric weekly, has the answer: Just air-drop in a team of 8th grade civics teachers to the nation’s capital for some serious remedial instruction.

Now that’s a plan!

Lawrence Hardy|July 29th, 2011|Categories: School Boards, Teachers, Uncategorized, Week in Blogs|Tags: , , , , |

Is NCLB leading to cheating?

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke out this week in The Washington Post on the recent standardized tests cheating scandals and noted that “testing and teaching are not at odds.”

But could No Child Left Behind (NCLB) be to blame on these high profile cheating scandals?

As Duncan noted “Now as NCLB’s deadline for 100-percent proficiency approaches and performance goals grow steeper, we learn of egregious, systemic cheating in Atlanta and suspected cheating elsewhere.”

Duncan stated that “poorly designed laws” are “part of the problem” and that “NCLB has created the wrong incentives for boosting student achievement.”

Duncan promoted the need for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and stated “we are working with Congress to fix the law by instead measuring individual student growth against college and career-ready standards.”

BoardBuzz thinks it’s time Congress moves forward on ESEA, but wonders when that will happen. Instead as the 2011-2012 school year is about to begin shortly, schools are stuck with a flawed accountability system.

Alexis Rice|July 21st, 2011|Categories: Elementary and Secondary Education Act, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Student Achievement, Teachers, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , , |
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