National education issues
Washington state and Wisconsin have joined the states that have received waivers from the federal education law known as “No Child Left Behind.”
“This decision is welcome news that gives our state the opportunity to implement bold reforms around standards and accountability,” State Superintendent Randy Dorn said.
Dorn added of the 10-year-old measure known formally as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: “It allows state and local educators to decide how to best meet the individual needs of students they serve. Current ESEA law is written in a way that narrowly defines ‘success’ based mainly on standardized test scores.”
Washington is one of 26 states to have received waivers so far.
Click here to read the story by AP’s Donna Gordon Blankinship.
Click here for more from Dorn.
Filmed during the 2009-2010 school year, “Bully” focuses on the painful lives of bullied children, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders, according to the filmmaker.
The film is directed by Lee Hirsch, a Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker.
Don’t wait too long to see the 98-minute documentary. For now, it looks like it’s running just through Thursday, May 24, at the Pickford.
Hopefully, “Bully” will attract a wider audience — specifically kids — since its initial R rating has been dropped to PG-13.
The trailer is below.
Paul Farhi writes in American Journalism Review that most mainstream reporters are failing when it comes to coverage of the U.S. education system.
Despite media reports about “failing” schools and the need for “reform,” Farhi argues that educational attainment in the U.S. “has never been higher.”
Click here to read “Flunking the Test” by Farhi, who is senior contributing writer for the review and a reporter for the Washington Post.
As expected, Washington state is asking the federal government to be freed from No Child Left Behind.
State Superintendent Randy Dorn announced Wednesday, Feb. 15, that he will apply for a waiver.
“My office also looked at hundreds of comments from the general public,” Dorn said in a news release. “I talked to many people in districts and schools and worked closely with the State Board of Education on the application. Schools need to be relieved from the burden of No Child Left Behind and focus their time and energy on helping our students succeed.”
Ten states already have received a waiver. They are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
The federal law requires states to test students in reading and math in grades 3–8 and once in high school.
All students must meet or exceed state standards in reading and math by 2014, but many school districts across the country said the goals were unrealistic.
The news release is below.
OLYMPIA — February 15, 2012 — State Superintendent Randy Dorn announced today that he would apply for a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind sanctions.
“My office also looked at hundreds of comments from the general public,” Dorn said. “I talked to many people in districts and schools and worked closely with the State Board of Education on the application. Schools need to be relieved from the burden of No Child Left Behind and focus their time and energy on helping our students succeed.”
If approved, Washington state would be relieved of Adequate Yearly Progress rules. Current AYP rules include increasing consequences for Title I schools and districts that do not meet certain percentage levels of students passing state tests each year. In 2011, roughly two out of every three schools in Washington did not meet AYP.
Schools that do not meet AYP two or more years in a row are considered in a “step” of improvement. Those schools must set aside 20 percent of their Title I money for supplemental educational services and for students who might request school choice. A waiver would eliminate the set-aside requirement.
As an alternative to current AYP rules, Washington would set annual measurable objectives that focus on the proficiency gaps between different groups of students. By 2017, the gaps would be half of what they were in 2011.
“By looking at the achievement gap, our plan focuses on the students most in need,” Dorn said. “Our intent is for the 20 percent of set-aside money to get those students individualized help.”
States requesting a waiver must establish and meet four principles:
- College and career-ready expectations for all students;
- State-developed differentiated recognition, accountability and support;
- Support for effective instruction and leadership; and
- Reducing duplication and unnecessary burden.
Washington has met all four principles. In 2011, the state adopted the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and math, and it is a lead state in the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium. The state is adopting a new accountability system. It also in 2010 passed historical legislation that will change the way teachers and principals are evaluated. Finally, reducing duplication is an ongoing task in all states.
No Child Left Behind refers to the 2002 iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), first passed by the U.S. Congress in the mid-1960s. NCLB was scheduled to be reauthorized in 2007, but Congress could not agree on a reauthorization package, which meant the existing law stayed in effect.
“Congress really needs to do its job and rewrite No Child Left Behind,” Dorn said. “The law raised a lot of awareness that all students need to be proficient in math and reading. Unfortunately, it also punished schools and districts unfairly, and it set unrealistic goals that no school or district can meet.”
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education announced that 10 of the 11 states that initially applied for waivers were approved, and the department is working with the 11th state.
A copy of the draft of Washington’s waiver application can be found athttp://www.k12.wa.us/ESEA/Pubdocs/DraftFlexibilityRequest.pdf. The final application is due Feb. 28.
Community colleges have been in the spotlight this week, from President Obama calling on Congress to create an $8 billion fund to train community college students for high-growth industries, to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray’s speech on Wednesday, Feb. 15, before the American Association of Community Colleges — Congressional Forum.
The Washington state Democrat gave the speech to community college trustees, presidents and other advocates.
Here’s the text of her speech. Continue reading
Voters in Ohio will be deciding soon if a new law that limits collective bargaining should remain in place.
The law affects teachers’ unions, as well as others, in how they can fight for contracts.
To read the Education Week story about the situation, click here. An excerpt is below.
The Ohio law, originally known as Senate Bill 5, was strongly backed by Republican state lawmakers and Gov. Kasich, who signed it in March, but it was opposed by Democrats. Supporters argued that previous Ohio laws gave unions far too much power in contract negotiations, compelling public employers, including school districts, to make concessions that cost taxpayers too much money—and, in the case of schools, that undermine school improvement.
Senate Bill 5 imposes broad restrictions on public workers’ bargaining powers. In school districts, it forbids bargaining over class sizes, school assignments, and provisions that restrict principals from assigning workloads and job responsibilities. The law also gives school boards broad powers to put in place their final offer in negotiations with unions if the two sides cannot reach agreement, according to both teachers’ union and school board representatives.
In addition, the measure also forbids districts from giving preference in layoff decisions to teachers with more seniority—a provision similar to those adopted in a number of other states, such as Florida and Idaho. The law requires that teachers be paid on the basis of performance, rather than under a traditional set salary schedule, though it leaves unclear how performance would be judged. The bill also mandates minimum health-care and pension contributions for school employees.
What do you think? Should teachers be limited in what they can argue for in contracts? Should layoffs be decided by seniority or ability?
The Mt. Baker FFA Forestry team recently won 4th place at the National FFA Forestry Career Development Event in Indiana.
Team members included: senior Jameson Strachila, recent graduate Gavin McGovern, Bryce Postleawit, Carsen Monaghan and Gabe Jacoby. Strachila also placed 14th as an individual, and McGovern placed 18th.
In all, 37 teams competed in events including: tree identification, identifying a block of wood, and an interview about the Endangered Species Act and the importance of protecting those species.
According to Todd Rightmire, FFA advisor, this is the highest a Washington State team has placed in the national event.
This is the fifth time the Mt. Baker FFA has advanced to the national competition, after winning state titles each year since 2007.
The U.S. Department of Education has announced a new competition for environmentally-friendly schools.
The new program, called Green Ribbon Schools, will honor schools that promote environmental literacy, reduce environmental impacts and reduce operating expenses through green initiatives.
It will be up to state and federal-level education officials to nominate schools. From my understanding, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction could nominate up to 4 Washington schools.
Schools will be judged based on their commitments to three “Green Ribbon Schools Pillars and Elements.”
- environmental impact and energy efficiency
- healthy school environments
- environmental and sustainability education
In Whatcom County, many schools already have green initiatives. Examples include food-to-flowers composting in cafeterias, paper and plastic recycling programs, environmentally-focused service-learning, school gardens and more. Plus a few districts are taking part in energy-efficiency programs, with electricity usage specifically dropping over the past few years.
Nominations are due to the U.S. Department of Education in March. National winners will be announced in May. Details have not been released about how schools can seek nomination by state officials.
For more information, visit the program website.
The press release about the program is below the jump.
President Barack Obama’s administration has unveiled the rules for how states can receive waivers for the No Child Left Behind Act.
The law, which was created by the Bush administration, requires states to have all students proficient in reading and math by 2014. If schools and districts are too far behind, they can receive sanctions, including busing students to other schools and restructuring.
While progress has been made to reaching that goal, states are far from having all students proficient and the deadline is looming.
Under Obama’s plan, states can apply for waivers to be exempted from parts of the law if they meet certain education reform conditions, including adopting “college and career ready standards,” creating teacher evaluations that are at least partially based on student performance, and focusing on the most troubled schools.
State Superintendent Randy Dorn has already said he’s not a fan of the waivers, instead wanting Congress to change the law. Dorn has stated Washington likely won’t apply for a waiver, but that was before the rules were released. OSPI is reviewing the new rules.
To read an in-depth story about the waivers, check out the Education Week story here.
For a more cursory overview, The Associated Press story is below.
WASHINGTON – Decrying the state of American education, President Barack Obama on Friday said states will get unprecedented freedom to waive basic elements of the sweeping Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, calling it an admirable but flawed effort that has hurt students instead of helping them.
Obama’s announcement could fundamentally affect the education of tens of millions of children. It will allow states to scrap the requirement that all children must show they are proficient in reading and math by 2014 – a cornerstone of the law – if states meet conditions designed to better prepare and test students.
And the president took a shot at Congress, saying his executive action was needed only because lawmakers have not stepped in to improve the law for years.
“Congress hasn’t been able to do it. So I will,” Obama said. “Our kids only get one shot at a decent education.”
Under the plan Obama outlined, states can ask the Education Department to be exempted from some of the law’s requirements if they meet certain conditions, such as imposing standards to prepare students for college and careers and setting evaluation standards for teachers and principals.
Despite allowing states to do away with the approaching 2014 deadline, Obama insisted he was not weakening the law, but rather helping states set higher standards. He said that the current law was forcing educators to teach to the test, to give short shrift to subjects such as history and science, and to even lower standards as a way of avoiding penalties and stigmas.