ESEA/NCLB Update #117
House committee passes funding transfer bill
The House Education and the Workforce Committee passed a bill that would give states and school districts the discretion to transfer money out of critical ESEA programs. The State and Local Funding Flexibility Act (H.R. 2445) was introduced by Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and other Republican committee members, who argue that the bill is needed to create greater local control over education decisions, cut red tape, and encourage local innovation. This funding flexibility could open the door, however, for some key programs to go unfunded at the expense of disadvantaged students. “All flexibility is not good flexibility,” stated NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, in a statement expressing concern about the potential transfer of funds out of ESEA programs that address low-income, English Language Learner, and Native American students. “Let’s not abandon the students who need us the most,” Van Roekel stated.
NEA submits Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge comments
On July 11, NEA submitted comments on the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed criteria for its Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, a $500 million grant program designed to help states develop systems, outcomes, programs, and the workforce in the field of early childhood education (ECE) to prepare young children for elementary school. NEA supports the Department’s goal to place greater emphasis and resources on ECE, but also calls for greater clarity and limitations around the assessment of young children, as well as more direct funding for local ECE service providers.
Administration promotes school-based health centers
Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced awards totaling $95 million under the Affordable Care Act to 278 school-based health center programs across the country. The awards are designed to provide more health care services—including health screenings, health promotion, and disease prevention activities—and to enable children with acute or chronic illnesses to attend school.
Duncan weighs in on cheating scandals related to NCLB tests
In an op-ed in the Washington Post this week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, responding to allegations that school personnel in Atlanta and elsewhere manipulated students’ answers on standardized tests, reiterated the purpose of and necessity for comprehensive student assessments. “To deny the importance of regular, comprehensive measurement of student growth and academic progress because of cheating is to embrace [a] twisted ethos . . . that by resisting accountability, you can avoid it,” stated Duncan. He added that “it is important to remember that measuring student growth is a means to an end, and not an end in itself.” The U.S. Department of Education has allocated $350 million toward a new generation of assessments and is holding the latest in a series of public meetings on the topic on August 10.
Obama, Duncan meet with CEOs and VIPs to spur investments in education
On Monday, President Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and others met with a host of corporate leaders in an education roundtable designed to put a spotlight on business-education partnerships and philanthropy. More than $100 million in new commitments to improve education were announced at the roundtable, including initiatives to encourage school interventions, job preparation, college completion, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, and systemic redesign and innovation.
Study: Statewide job losses harm AYP
A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) highlights the link between jobs, the economy, and school performance. NBER looked at the impact of statewide job losses on communities, families, and children. The study found that job losses decrease average test scores, with larger effects for eighth than fourth graders, and larger effects for math than reading. Strikingly, the NBER study estimates that a state experiencing an economic downturn leading to one-year job losses among just 2% of workers would likely experience a 16% increase in schools failing to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) under NCLB. An abstract of the study, Children Left Behind: The Effects of Statewide job Loss on Student Achievement, can be found on the NBER website.