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ESEA/NCLB Update #137

Finding a vision for the RESPECT Project

This week the Department of Education (ED) released a vision for the Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching (RESPECT) Project. As part of the 2013 proposed budget, the RESPECT Project would encourage collaboration between State and Local Education Agencies, unions, and other stakeholders. The vision, a teacher written document, is open for public comment on several issues, including compensation, career pathways, and teacher evaluation.

California joins the waiver wave

California is the latest state to say they will apply for a waiver to No Child Left Behind’s (NCLB) federally mandated requirements. California officials previously said that the state could not afford to implement a teacher and principal evaluation system, one of the requirements for states to receive a waiver from ED. The Los Angeles Times reports that the California State Board of Education will ask for relief but will not authorize a new teacher and principal evaluation system. ED approved 11 state waiver requests in early February and received 27 (26 states and District of Columbia) more requests in late February. Last fall, NEA President Van Roekel praised the Department’s plan to offer temporary relief from NCLB’s mandates saying, “President Obama has taken a welcome step forward with this plan. It sets much more realistic goals for schools, while maintaining ESEA’s original commitment to civil rights, high academic standards and success for every student.”

Early Learning Office opens at ED

The newly opened Office of Early Learning (OEL) at ED will focus on early learning initiatives including the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grants and Early Childhood Educator Professional Development Program. Led by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning Jacqueline Jones, the OEL sits in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. The OEL's goal will be to improve the health, social-emotional, and cognitive outcomes for children from birth through third grade. NEA recently released a policy brief titled, Place Early Learning at the Forefront of Improving Priority Schools.

Education institutions get grants to help with ELL instruction

Seventy-three educator training institutions will share in $24.4 million in grants to improve classroom instruction for English Language Learners (ELL). The grant program, administered by ED, will support a variety of professional development activities for teachers and other educational personnel who work in elementary and secondary school classrooms with English learners.

Groups say healthy kids achieve academically

This week, two nonprofit groups made recommendations to the secretaries of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education on strategies to improve students’ academic and physical well-being. The Healthy Schools Campaign and Trust for America’s Health introduced policy recommendations that focus on several federal initiatives:

  • Providing robust professional development programs and in-service training that equip principals and teachers with the tools to identify and address student health issues
  • Incorporating health and wellness into school metrics and accountability systems
  • Providing schools with strategies to partner with parents as agents of change for integrating health into education.
  • Increasing the Department of Education’s capacity to provide leadership and guidance on how health and wellness promotes learning
  • A level of funding to improve access to critical health and prevention services – particularly school nurses – for low-income students

NEA President Van Roekel, present for the announcement of the recommendations, stated, “Everything we’re doing to transform schools, improve teacher preparation, create more accountability, None of it will succeed if students aren’t healthy enough to learn.”

ED gives millions to help college-bound students

Today ED announced that 780 Upward Bound Projects will share in $254 million to help about 60,000 students access and succeed in higher education. Upward Bound Projects provide support in a number of areas for students as they prepare to enter higher education. Students receive counseling in federal financial aid that is available and academic instruction mathematics, laboratory sciences, composition, literature, and foreign languages. Projects funded for 2012-2013 can be found here.

Take Action: Tell Congress not to slash education and supports

The House of Representatives has approved the NEA-opposed Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act that places the burden for the nation’s financial crisis squarely on the shoulders of the middle class and the poor, while failing to ask anything of those most able to contribute toward economic recovery. Congress will continue to debate these issues, as deep cuts scheduled to go into effect in January 2013 approach. We need to tell Congress that balancing the budget should not be done by slashing education and programs that serve our most vulnerable. Tell Congress that we need a balanced approach that asks those most able to do so to pay their fair share. Tell Congress to make the right choice for America’s future – protect children, working families, and seniors and ensure everyone pays his or her fair share.

(Published May 11, 2012)

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