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ESEA/NCLB Update #130

NEA President praises the State of the Union Address

In a statement released after the State of the Union (SOTU), NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, praised President Obama for his vision and roadmap for putting Americans back to work. "President Obama's bold vision offers both hope and help to Americans," said Van Roekel. "He has an ambitious plan to lead the country and provide more hope for middle class families. He understands that investing in education now and opening opportunities to all students are fundamental to the long-term economic well-being of our children and our nation." Sitting with the First Lady at the SOTU was NEA member Sara Ferguson, a teacher from Chester Upland School District in Pennsylvania. Ms. Ferguson, along with her colleagues agreed to continue teaching even though the school district they work for ran out of money to pay them. She stated, "I'm thrilled that President Obama has invited me." "The president's invitation shows he is aware and concerned about the crisis confronting Chester Upland and its students."

Turning around a school depends on many key factors

Writing a commentary in Education Week, Alan M. Blankstein, president of the HOPE Foundation, and Pedro Noguera, the Peter L. Agnew professor of education at New York University, suggested that political leaders should listen to educators that have had success in turning around schools when setting policy. In their experience, several key factors need to be in place in order for a school to successfully turn around and they include developing "positive learning environments through internal accountability, shared vision, buy-in around clear goals and procedures, and the development of community."

NCLB's biggest flaw — failing to acknowledge the impact of poverty

Executive Director Michael Rebell and policy director Jessica Wolff of The Campaign for Educational Equity, based at Teachers College, Columbia University wrote in a blog post at the Huffington Post that America's problem is one of poverty not education. Using the latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores, they state that when looking only at scores from schools that serve few low-income students, American students rank higher than the world's top-scoring advanced industrial countries. The national poverty rate for American students sits at 22 percent, higher than any other industrial country. To combat poverty the authors advocate for extended learning time, sustained services even during budget problems, and quality early childhood education.

Teacher Ambassadors contribute their expertise

Officials at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that they are accepting applications for the 2012-2013 Teacher Ambassador Program. Teacher Ambassadors have the opportunity to engage in education policy and contribute their expertise in policy debates. Teachers may participate in one of three yearlong programs—the Washington Fellowship (full-time based in Washington D.C.), Classroom Fellowship (part-time working with one of ED's Regional Offices), or the Regional Fellowship (full-time working with one of the Regional Communication Offices). For more information, teachers can call 1-800-USALearn or email the Department. Applications are due February 22, 2012.

Governors say creating new innovative assessments critical for student success

In a newly released brief, the National Governors Association (NGA) outlined three principles that states should consider when designing 21st century accountability systems. The NGA states that it is critical that new assessments must align with the new goal of focusing on college and career readiness for our nation's young people. "Using multiple measures to determine school and district performance; providing incentives for preparing the hardest-to-serve students for college and career, including comparing the performance of schools and districts with similar student populations; and, setting targets for accountability measures that are grounded in research and are realistic given past school or district performance" are necessary as states move toward building new and innovative accountability systems.

Republican ESEA bills walk away from equity for all students

Representative John Kline (R-MN) released two ESEA draft discussion bills that would severely weaken the law's primary purpose — to provide an equitable education for all students. NEA has said (pdf icon PDF, 980 KB, 2 pgs.) that the bills fall short of ensuring that every student has access to a great public school and a quality education, straying from the critical federal role in guaranteeing equity in the public school system. In a brief released earlier this week, the Center for American Progress (CAP) outlined how the provisions in the Student Success Act would "diminish or dismantle equity provisions for historically disadvantaged students and diminish the targeting of federal resources based on poverty levels in schools, districts, and states." The so-called Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teacher Act would radically alter the way Title II, Part A funds are allocated. CAP proposes that any reauthorization of ESEA should focus on:

  • holding all schools accountable for getting results with all students
  • investing in teachers and principals so they become more skilled and effective
  • making funding practices more fair and efficient so every student gets a fair shot at adequate resources, and
  • targeting support to low-performing schools

Read more about NEA's latest message regarding ESEA reauthorization.

Take Action

Say yes to what works for students As ESEA reauthorization language is debated in the House and Senate, now is the time to make sure policymakers hear and understand the experiences of educators working with students every day. Speak up for the students who deserve quality early education programs and access to a full range of coursework including the fine arts and physical education. Tell Congress to craft an ESEA reauthorization bill that will work for students, educators, and schools.

 (Published February 6, 2012)

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