Radical Change Proposed in U.S. Congress

Rep. King, R, IA filed H.R. 610, a bill which is a major assault on public education.  The bill would repeal the Education and Secondary School Act of 1965.  Instead, the U.S. DOE would award block grants to qualified states.  States would then distribute block grants to local education agencies (districts) in a manner that apportions funds to families who elect to home school or send their children to private schools.  In a word, it is a ‘voucher’ bill.

Curiously, the bill also revokes the nutrition standards for school breakfast and lunch programs.

Our public schools are the backbone of our democracy.  This bill undermines an educational system that serves everyone, not just those that private schools chose to accept.  This is just the beginning of an assault on public education.  It is time to push back and keep pushing.

The Network for Public Education has an Action Alert to notify your representatives to oppose this bill.  You can access their site here.

Federal Education Policy Changes Afoot?

creature-1529281_640I have avoided posting all of the speculation about possible changes in education leadership and policy in the new administration.  It is just plain hard on my peace of mind, especially when most of it will not happen.  I firmly believe that the real changes will be through the change in leadership in the Florida legislature.  As you know, I am not sanguine on those.   You can see previous posts.

This morning, however, I ran across an article that helps us think more realistically about what change at the federal level would take.  This Ed Week article reviews legislation that would have to be amended to redirect funding.  It also points toward a likely push for school choice funding in the Congress.  It is worth a read.

 

This Judge Did A Doubletake

FAILED1Passing third grade depends in part on the district a child attends.  Some parents who opted their children out of the Florida State Assessment were dismayed to learn their children would be held back in third grade.  These are not low achieving students based on their grades on report cards.  The federal law requires that states administer annual assessments, and the government can penalize states with fewer than 95% of students participating.

Florida had no problem meeting the federal requirements, but some districts decided not to allow students without test scores to advance to fourth grade.  Parents could send their children to a summer portfolio session, in some districts, or they could sit an alternative assessment.  Parents sued Pasco and Hernando school districts.  The Leon County Circuit court heard the arguments on Friday.  Judge Gievers was troubled but thought any ruled she made would be immediately appealed.

Today Judge Gievers reconsidered.  She will rehear the case next Monday.  The children are now enrolled in third grade classes.  Maybe next week they will be fourth graders.  Something is wrong with this picture.  Whatever the policy may be, it should at least be the same for all children in the state.

 

ESSA: What does Pam Stewart think?

accounting-761599_640The U.S. Department of Education wants input to its rules to implement the Every Student Succeed Act.  State Education Commissioner Pam Stewart wrote them a letter, a long one.  In it she lists her concerns.  Her first concern had a familiar ring; under the proposed timeline, it would not be possible to implement the new rules by the beginning of the 2017-18 year.  One has to smile, Ms. Stewart is right.  She has learned from experience when district superintendents voiced similar complaints about the timeline for  implementing the Florida Student Assessment accountability measures two years ago.  Stewart’s other concerns are more problematic.

I list them below.

 

 

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