Inflation-Adjusted Title I Budget Back to Pre-George W. Bush Level via Thompson (Andy Brownstein plus special appearance by Wayne (CRS) Riddle).
Inflation-Adjusted Title I Budget Back to Pre-George W. Bush Level via Thompson (Andy Brownstein plus special appearance by Wayne (CRS) Riddle).
There's a good long piece in the latest Washington Monthly looking into what happens to federal laws after they're passed, titled He Who Makes the Rules, that makes some good reading for any education watchers.
While it focuses on non-education issues (Dodd-Frank implementation), it tells the story of how the regulatory process -- rules, interpretations of Congressional intent, public comment, and final determinations -- can make or break the statutory language that Congress passes and a President signs into law.
"It may seem counterintuitive, but those big hunks of legislation, despite being technically the law of the land, filed away in the federal code, don’t mean anything yet."
Who cares what happens to a law once it's passed? I can think of at least three education examples where rulemaking has played a big role: (1) the 2002 passage of NCLB, which was followed by some frenzied rulemaking around such hot topics as highly qualified teachers, tutoring (SES), and AYP; (2) the more recent passage of what became Race to the Top, extremely brief statutory language that blossomed into a much bigger, broader program; and, (3) the higher education regulations and rules surrounding Title II teacher quality grants (about which I know frighteningly little except they've been hotly debated and delayed).
As you'll see from the TWM story, a committed group of individuals can carve up a law they don't like by attacking language and swarming the process. It's been a while since that's happened in K-12 but if anything big ever happens and one side or the other (or both) doesn't like it, they know that they can probably get things changes further down the line, after most folks have moved onto other issues.
Last week's IGM survey of economists was - excitingly! - about education.
Specifically, respondents were asked whether expanded pre-K programs would have "a much lower social return" than the best existing programs currently generate.
I'd have guessed that economists would answer that question with a resounding and disheartening "yes", but the actual results were somewhat mixed with only 1/3 of economists answering in the affirmative. (This increased to a bit over half when survey results were weighted by confidence.)
The biggest takeaway seems to be that mainstream economists as a group know and/or care relatively little about education. (In this regard they are perhaps not that different from the general public.)
Consider, for example, that 29% of respondents reported being "uncertain." Another 18% didn't answer the question at all. Also notable: though the IGM survey sometimes asks a second, related question, in this case it didn't bother even though an obvious follow-up was available.
After all, what we want to know is not necessarily whether universal pre-K access would result in diminishing returns, but whether such an investment would generate positive returns.
Cantor: 'Our schools are too dangerous' (via Politico) #CPAC2013
Here's Rachel Maddow's 12-minute segment recounting Walter Mondale's attempt to provide preschool to everyone (and Nixon's veto) 40 years ago, complete with the story about Oklahoma's UPK program that you probably already know from This American Life. Plus James Heckman.
EdSource is reporting that a ten-district consortia of California school districts that educate more than 20 percent of the state's students is pressing ahead with its NCLB waiver application, despite concerns from the state and Secretary Duncan about creating different rules for different districts. Hey, there was a district version of Race to the Top, so why not a district version of NCLB waivers?
The hearing starts at 10. The above is just a screenshot. Here's a link to the committee site -- the video is not embeddable, far as I can tell (and according to the staff I talked to). One of the highlights may be EdTrust president Kati Haycock's critique of the waiver approval and implementation process, notes HuffPosts's Joy Resmovits, though I don't think it's anything particularly new she's saying.
Behind the scenes, some civil rights and accountability types admit that the waivers might end up being preferable to what Congress would have done in a reauthorization. Speaking of reauthorizations, DFER's Charlie Barone thinks that one might still happen (for better or worse).
The Atlantic thinks so. Photo via Whitehouse.gov.
Here's a chart showing federal funding for Head Start via New America's info page: New Resources on Head Start:
HHS is obviously pushing to fix and change the program, which is all well and good, and everybody loves the pre-K kids, but as I keep asking this week: what about regular old Kindergarten? How can it be that Kindergarten's not already universal and full-day?
The real lesson of the Newtown tragedy for educators, foundations, and reform groups is how clearly it highlights the importance of single-issue advocacy efforts conducted at the national level:
As many have noted, the NRA has for decades blocked gun control measures, becoming one of the most effective single issue advocacy operations in the country (along with the anti-tax folks, perhaps, and AARP).
NYC Mayor Bloomberg's "Demand A Plan" initiative, including 34 shooting victims sending videos to the Obama White House over this past weekend, has already arguably had an impact on the Administration's decision to move forward (however tentatively).
In this National Journal article, Adam Cohen discusses the possibility of a "parent lobby" that would, like the NRA or AARP or anyone else, focus on child safety and welfare issues. (The chart shows just how cheap it is to have an impact.)
And what about in education? The teachers unions and education associations are well-established. The Children's Defense Fund and NAACP used to perform some of these functions on behalf of poor children and families. Short-run efforts such as Ed in '08 and that College Board thing this summer revealed the power and challenges. While powerul at the policy level, state-level advocacy networks are limited politically when things get big and struggle with command and coordination issues among different states.
Twenty-odd years into school reform (and at least five into my blathering about the need for such a thing) there's still no national education reform advocacy group or PAC.
All the focus on universal preschool these past few years might lead you to believe that, well, Kindergarten was already taken care of, but I recently learned that's not the case at all.
The bare dozen green states on this January 2012 map from CDF (!?) shows how unusual it is for full-day kindergarten to be provided at no charge to all children per state statute and funding.
Over the weekend, former EdSec Bill Bennett and others suggested arming teachers. Way back in 2006, however, Stephen Colbert proclaimed that not only should teachers be armed, but also students.
Think the trigger has come and gone? Think again. Maybe you heard Claudio Sanchez's NPR segment this morning on the parent trigger law (here), talking about how powerful if untested an idea it is, and here's the map that goes along with the seven states Sanchez mentioned, courtesy of KC MO News (here):
"As of June, the National Conference of State Legislatures said about 13 other states had considered but did not approve trigger laws." Click the link to get to a clickable link. I'm starting a pool over how long into the new Congress we get before a member introduces a federal trigger proposal.
Officially, there's not much going on in Washington DC right now other than departing lawmakers, arriving ones, and the fiscal cliff debate. But it was two years ago in December, during contentious negotiations about the debt limit or something along those lines that Congress passed the (in)famous "codification" of the Bush-era highly qualified teacher regulations that I wrote about in my paper on NCLB, HQT, and alternative certification.
At that time, since it was a continuing resolution, the amendments were called variances discordances or or something like that. But the language was just a couple of sentences long -- that's all it takes:
(a) A ‘highly qualified teacher’ includes a teacher who meets the requirements in 34 CFR 200.56(a)(2)(ii), as published in the Federal Register on December 2, 2002. (b) This provision is effective on the date of enactment of this provision through the end of the 2012–2013 academic year.
This makes me wonder if there must be at least a handful of education-related bits of business that the Administration, Hill leaders, or others are pushing to get included along with the fiscal cliff deal that if history is our guide will be passed late at night the Friday before Christmas or something ridiculous like that.
Do I know what these items to get slipped in might be? No idea. That's your job. They could be in the category of language needed to smooth NCLB waiver oversight or implementation, or some small but key business related to Common Core. What unfinished business out there needs getting done and has enough friends to get it on a short list of "technical amendments"? Figure it out now, or read about it when it's already been signed into law.
I'm not particularly worried about the fiscal cliff, which makes for great post-election theater but seems unlikely to happen in any form that would be disastrous. But I *am* worried about the overall federal education budget in the next cycle, and one big reason is the NCLB waiver scheme.
Federal funding for K-12 education went up a bunch during the NCLB era, a fact that many seem not to know or conveniently forget. And a new reauthorization of any law, including education, usually generates funding increases since lawmakers want to see their votes and efforts succeed.
But we don't have an NCLB reauthorization to spring off of, thanks to the whiners at the Chiefs and the lazybones at the USDE (and CAP?) who got us into this waiver mess. And it seems unlikely to me that lawmakers are going to manage much enthusiasm for a program that (a) isn't new and (b) essentially operates outside their control.
So don't worry about the fiscal cliff that everyone's talking about now. Worry about the fiscal cliff that NCLB could be about to fall off of in February and March.
For a bunch of his time in the Senate, Bingaman was on the Senate education committee, balancing out the more ahem, outspoken Democratic members from the Northeast. And, for a few years during the late 1990s, I was fortunate enough to have been his education LA.
Some of Bingaman's other education LAs, Fellows, and LCs include: Carmel Martin. Peter Zamora. Michael Yudin. Rena Subotnik. Chris Harrington. David Schindel. Sanjay Kane.
As this lame duck Congress wraps up and energy builds towards a new Congress and a second Obama term in office, I can't help but wishing that reauthorizing NCLB was something that was on everyone's first order of business for January and February. Instead, the states are running off into the woods with their NCLB waivers, Duncan chasing behind them with letters reminding them of their vague promises to uphold the spirit of NCLB.
Of course, the Obama folks didn't know if they'd get another term, and nobody knew whether the NCLB reauthorization that came out of the current (old) Congress would be any good. To be fair, the same thing got done to the DREAMers, who are now in the same kind of political and policy limbo as NCLB.
But still, it could have been different -- should have been, I'd argue.
Here's the list of RTTT-District finalists, which USDE somehow came up with just a couple of weeks after receiving nearly 400 district applications (via @joy_resmovits at HuffPost). Did your district make it?
Researcher Bryan Hassel has written a bracing (for policy wonks) response to yesterday's "SIG-failed-I-told-you-so" post from former New Jersey state education official Andy Smarick (The disappointing but completely predictable results from SIG).
In his rebuttal, Hassel questions Smarick's contention that SIG has failed and shreds Smarick's notion that starting new schools is a viable way to go:
"There’s no evidence that new school creation is demonstrably better as an overall strategy than turnarounds... To replace the 5,000 worst schools, we’d need 10,000 high-quality new schools b/c they tend to be smaller."
Read the full post below.
This is from last week's Climate Reality event, which garnered 15 million viewers, and this video's appeal is yet another reminder that advocates for or against reform have to be creative and take risks in order to get their messages heard. Reports and rhetoric are not enough.
Fiscal Cliff Ignites Education Activism As Poorest School Districts Stand To Lose The Most HuffPostEdu: Three federal programs critical to education -- Title I funds for poor students, state grants for special education and the Head Start public pre-school program -- would lose $2.7 billion over 10 years, predicted a Senate report based on the Congressional Budget Office projection that sequestration would slash spending by 7.8 percent.
Race to the Top District Competition Nets 371 Applicants PoliticsK12: The applications come from 42 states plus the District of Columbia, with California and Texas—of course, because of their size—producing 170 applicants between the two of them.
Teachers Clear Newark Pact WSJ: The Newark Teachers Union approved a groundbreaking contract Wednesday that introduces a form of merit pay and gives teachers input into each others' annual performance evaluations. The contract was fueled by $50 million in philanthropic money poured into the state's largest city through a foundation started by Facebook Inc.
Analysis Examines L.A. Teacher Characteristics TeacherBeat: Los Angeles has an unusually wide spread in the relative effectiveness of its teachers, according to an analysis released today by the Strategic Data Project, an initiative housed at the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University.
Scale Tips Toward Nonfiction Under Common Core EdWeek: The common standards expect students to become adept at reading informational text, a shift in focus that many English/language arts teachers fear might diminish the time-honored place of literature in their classrooms.
"Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and education policy adviser to Mitt Romney, William Hansen, to talk about the politics behind President George W. Bush's "No Child Left Behind" and President Barack Obama's "Race to the Top" plans for education."
An estimated 80,000 fewer kids will get a chance to learn grit and resilience (or the alphabet) if Congress and the White House don't get their acts together and figure out a budget, notes CAP, a Washington think tank that occasionally goes super left (A Head Start for Low-Income Kids).
It's not K12, and apologies to all who may be offended by such superficialities, but the Ed Finance Council's Samantha DeZur has made The Hill's 50 Most Beautiful People. Congrats, condelences. h/t MP
House Subcommittee Examines Alternative Certification PoliticsK12: Last week, two different coalitions sent letters up to Capitol Hill expressing totally different sentiments on whether Congress should continue to allow teachers in alternative certification to be considered "highly qualified."
Adelanto school board to hold emergency meeting Wednesday Redlands Daily Facts: The group promotes the use of the "parent trigger" law that allows parents to take control of a school if they gather signatures from at least 50 percent of the parents. The judge agreed with 25 of the signatures the district sought to reject, but ...
Deal to Extend School Day in Chicago AP: Chicago’s public schools and the union representing teachers have reached an agreement that will give students a longer school day but will not force the teachers to work longer hours.
LAUSD must include student test scores in teacher evals by Dec.4 PassFail: L.A. Unified must comply with a judge's ruling to include student test scores in teacher evaluations by Dec. 4, a bevy of attorneys representing the district, its unions, and parents agreed in court today.
Philadelphia Charter Founder Charged With Fraud EdWeek: Dorothy June Brown was accused Tuesday by federal authorities of using her private management companies, Cynwyd and AcademicQuest, to defraud the Agora Cyber Charter School and the Planet Abacus Charter School.
Fairfax County faces two complaints about racial bias at TJ high school Washington Post: Five years ago, white students composed 52 percent of the rising freshmen admitted to TJ, while Asian students accounted for 38 percent. By this year, those numbers had flipped: Of the ninth-graders entering TJ next year, 26 percent are white and 64 percent are Asian.
Smaller U.S. budget for smallest citizens - report Reuters: Another 4 percent decline in overall spending on children is expected in 2012 as the temporary boost from stimulus funds falls by $30 billion. Without legislative action, the amount spent on children will remain unchanged over the next decade, but will shrink to 8 percent of the overall budget.
Here's the streaming video from the House education committee hearing on alternative certification (once it starts), and the press release touting the event.
Is this in response to the alt cert debate during last week's appropriations markup, or just a booster shot of some kind? You may already know. I'll try and find out.
Yesterday's Labor-HHS appropriations markup was a bit of a bloodbath for Obama education initiatives, as you may have heard -- Innovation and Improvement cut by $864.5 million, according to CEF (PDF here) -- but there are lots of additional steps in the appropriations process and there were some silver linings. First and foremost (to me, at least) is that CEF tells me at least some of the newer national education reform groups -- Teach For America and DFER among them -- signed (or offered to sign) the FY2013 letter in support of education funding. Coalition building is messy stuff -- lots of strange bedfellows -- but going it alone (or not weighing in at all) aren't any better alternatives. See also the Coalition website here. I'll add other names as soon as I hear back about everyone who signed.
Tom Harkin can't manage the committee, doesn't understand how Republicans think, and is ineffective in every possible way. -- Another unnamed Whiteboard Advisors insider on the chances of NCLB reauthorization
Sometimes it seems sad how little money is spent on education at the federal level -- in many cases, it's not even enough for education to get its own category.
That's the case in this chart, via NPR, in which the light green represents the "everything else" category -- which includes education, has gone down over the past 50 years from nearly 15 percent to roughly 12 percent.
No, I don't really care (or believe) that education is or should be a state and local issue.
To me, that argument has always seemed quaint and ideological -- powerful, to be sure -- but neither realistic nor defensible.
I'd rather have a more equitable and uniform system than the current insupportable range of excellence and dysfunction.
Jennifer Gera (left) has been tapped to handle education issues for the House Labor/HHS/Education appropriations subcommittee, according to the Knowledge Alliance.
She's replacing Susan Ross, who was promoted to clerk.
Congrats, condolences to all. Any other arrivals or departures of note, let me know.
Is Hawaii One Step Closer to Losing Race to Top Grant? Politics K12: With the fate of Hawaii's $75 million Race to the Top grant hanging in the balance, this is not good news for the Aloha State.
New York Teacher Ratings Renew Evaluation Debate NPR: The Obama administration is making some federal funds contingent on schools using student test scores and classroom observations to evaluate teachers. New York City recently sparked a controversy when it rated thousands of teachers with test scores alone — and then released those ratings to the public.
The Posse Foundation Comes to Houston for the 2012-13 School Year NYT: The Posse Foundation, which sends students from large urban school districts to elite colleges, is coming to Texas in the 2012-13 academic year.
As 'Bully' Opens, the Bullied, Bullies and Bystanders Weigh In PBS: A 12-year-old is harassed on the school bus, a 16-year-old lesbian is ostracized by her community and a young girl brings a gun to school to face her bullies. Two parents speak for their late son because he committed suicide after being tormented at school. These are the subjects of the much-anticipated film "Bully" from director Lee Hirsch, out in theaters across the country on Friday.
More teachers banned from classroom in APS cheating scandal CNN: Georgia’s Professional Standards Commission (PSC) has revoked the teaching permits of 67 more educators implicated in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal. Some of the teachers were barred from the classroom for two years; others had their certificates permanently revoked, according to WSB.
MORE NEWS ITEMS INSIDE
This week's Supreme Court deliberations on the health care mandate is as good a chance as any to remind everyone that there are education implications embedded in the debate over whether Congress has the right to enforce things like health insurance mandates over states and individuals. There was a long New Yorker article making the link to education last summer (here). Justice Thomas in particular has made commerc clause arguments" By Thomas’s reading, Social Security and the National Labor Relations Act, to say nothing of Medicare and Medicaid, might all be unconstitutional," wrote Jeffrey Toobin. Challenges to federal education laws might follow (if Tea Party lawmakers don't repeal them first).
When I worked on the Hill way back in the 90's (Feinstein, then Bingaman), I often (some would say usually) had absolutely no idea what I was doing, substantatively, or procedurally or politically. I was constantly in need of reliable information, provided quickly, tailored to my specific situation, dumbed down to my level.
And so, as you can imagine, my best experiences with lobbyists were the ones who gave me useful information when I needed it, whether or not it was something they were particularly interested in, and got it to me quickly, in a useful form (amendment language, for example, or a one-page fact sheet, or a formula run).
Read on to find out who was best and worst at the lobbying game, according to me, and about a new article that might be worth reading.
In education reform, I think Obama has done brilliantly, largely because it’s out of the press. -- Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN) in the New Yorker via EWA's Mikhail Zinshteyn
As you may already know from my Twitter feed, there's rumored to be a White House education event tomorrow afternoon whose purpose is to announce that 8-10 states have been approved for NCLB waivers. It's pure coincidence that Republican House education committee chairman John Kline is doing a big NCLB event earlier in the day.
There's a lot of coverage and commentary on various NCLB reauthorization and waiver scenarios -- nothing's easier than speculation, after all -- but strangely little discussion about something much more concrete: the possibility that federal education funding will be cut 8-9 percent (roughly $4 billion) in January 2013.
Some reading material: Impact of the Budget Control Act's Across-the-Board Reductions NEA, School Districts Fear Slashed Budgets After Supercommittee Fails EdWeek, How the Potential Across-the-Board Cuts in the Debt Limit Deal Would Occur CBPP, Estimated Impact of Automatic Budget Enforcement Procedures CBO
I know, I know. It's so far off. And funding issues are so boring. Congress will probably figure something out at the last minute. But Harkin-Enzi and Kline aren't going anywhere. Waivers are going to go to a handful of states at most. The national average is much lower but I've seen estimates as high as 20-30 percent for the federal contribution to some urban school district budgets. That makes the looming funding cut the biggest, broadest, most immediate, most concrete issue out there. It's certainly something that state and local education officials I talk to keep bringing up.
Why not spend some time thinking about how states and districts would deal with a federal education cut, whether it would be a good or bad thing, and how Congress might decide to protect or target federal education programs in whatever post-election deal they concoct?
valiant Chester Upland teachers who's working without pay was sitting with the First Lady. Classroom teachers, the President has not forgotten you. (Also sitting with the First Lady was a recently-homeless Siemens Science contest winner and a rising TFA corps member from Colorado.) The President asserted the oft-made [but misleading, I think] claim that the Race To The Top competition resulted in changes in nearly every state's education laws for very little money. (The spreadsheet showing the state changes illustrates the minimal, preliminary nature of many of the states' legislative changes made in hopes of winning the federal funding. NPR's Claudio Sanchez notes that even those who won the money are struggling to make good on their promises.) The President called for an end to teacher-bashing, which seems like a decent and politically smart thing to do, at the same time he bragged about moving responsibility for education back to the states (via NCLB waivers), which I see as a politically smart move that's problematic at a substantive level. (I'm not alone in worrying about the NCLB waiver process -- several civil rights, disability, and minority groups are opposed to the accountability rollbacks in state waiver plans.) I'll stop there -- what did you think, or did you not bother?
But Will They Help Students? TIME: Without a program to offer iPads at discounted rates to students, teachers and schools in reality most students will still be using the same old textbooks for years to come.
Little Kids Are Homophobic Jerks, and Teachers Don't Know How to Stop Them Jezebel: A significant number of teachers know their school is a shitty environment for kids who don't conform to traditional notions of gender, but they're not doing anything about it. Some of them may not know how.
Review of MAKING THE GRADES Mr Teachbad: If I tweak my interpretation of a rubric in the middle of grading a stack of papers, it’s with kids I talk to every day. As a teacher, if I create a horrible rubric or make a horrible decision about a rubric, I could really only marginally affect about 200 people at a time, at most.
Obama Should Go Big and Bold for State of Union Jonathan Alter: He wants to fund early childhood education, hold schools and teachers accountable for performance, act to reduce dropout rates, and expand Pell Grants for college.
This is a guest commentary from middle school science teacher Paul Bruno, who tweets at @MrPABruno:
Michael Petrilli waxed optimistic about the chances for ESEA/NCLB reauthorization in the near future. He emphasized the considerable bipartisan consensus that exists around issues like testing and school sanctions and concluded by saying that "with a little presidential leadership and goodwill from both parties, a deal could be hammered out quickly."
My sense, however, is that taking a step back and looking at the current political environment makes the case for reauthorization pessimism look much stronger. I agree that there's broad bipartisan consensus on ESEA in Washington at the moment, but it's easy to overestimate the importance of this kind of substantive policy agreement.