Education Week - January 15, 2014 - (Page 1)

EDUCATIONWEEK Renewals of Education Laws Languish in Congress VOL. 33, NO. 17 * JANUARY 15, 2014 AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2014 Editorial Projects in Education * $4 By Alyson Klein As the 113th Congress returns for its second year, nearly every major education law remains overdue for reauthorization, leaving issues from early childhood to workforce development caught in a vortex of partisan rancor. Education advocates are fearful that Congress-which triggered the government shutdown late last year and has a historically low approval rating-won't be able to get any of the pending bills across the finish line by De- cember, when this Congress comes to a close. And observers across the political spectrum are highly skeptical that much work will get done by the time President Barack Obama leaves office, three years from now, on laws badly in need of updating. The slow pace of legislative progress has put the Obama administration largely in the driver's seat on education policy, through such initiatives as a complex series of waivers easing parts of the No Child Left Behind Act. Those moves have given the U.S. Department of Education more say than ever on what happens in schools across the country. But the administrative solutions are far from permanent, making the future uncertain for educators, from teachers to state schools chiefs. "We've kind of gotten used to Congress not taking any action," said Terry Holliday, who serves as Kentucky's commissioner of education and is the president of the Council of Chief State School Officers. Temporary fixes such as the Obama administration's NCLB waivers "help, but they're not a long-term solution. We abso- DIGITAL DIRECTIONS BREAKING NEWS DAILY lutely need Congress to establish a vision and expectations for education." Chief among the lingering legislation is the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, whose current version is the No Child Left Behind law. The renewal has been pending since 2007. Lawmakers also must rewrite measures governing federal policy and programs for education research, special education, career and technical education, and adult learners, as PAGE 19> Cities Take Lead On Expanding Early Education Christina A. Samuels New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to create a universal preschool program for the city's 4-yearolds-through a tax on the city's highest earners-is the latest example of city leaders around the country taking early-childhood education into their own hands, sometimes well in advance of state or federal officials. In 2012, San Antonio residents approved a sales tax of an eighth of a cent to pay for expanded preschool to serve 3,700 4-year-olds, a program that got underway this school year. The Seattle City Council voted last year in support of a preschool program to serve 3- and 4-year olds and has started a feasibility study. Those efforts join older city-run preschool programs in cities such as Boston, Denver, and San Francisco. "You don't find a lot of people arguing about the value of full-day pre-K," said Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, at a Jan. 6 press conference where he was PAGE 14> TECH. UPGRADE: Val Anderson hollers orders to a crew member while they install fiber-optic cable at the Butte High School Career Center in Montana. The new fiber-optic network will deliver faster Internet connections to 12 city school buildings. Districts Get Creative to Speed Up Internet High-Speed Fiber-Optic Cable Seen as Key to Quality Access By Benjamin Herold Desperate for access to high-speed fiberoptic cable that can meet their demands for bandwidth, and frustrated with the ways in which federal regulations and large telecommunications companies often get in the way, some districts are getting creative. Take the 5,000-student Butte district in southwestern Montana. It recently initiated a public-private partnership to build a brand-new fiber network after its plans for using technology were thwarted time and again. "I don't want you to think we tie our horses to the fence post out here," Superintendent Judy M. Jonart said of her rural mining town. "We want to get to 1-to-1 computing. We're not doing as much videoconferencing or collaborating across classrooms as we want to. We'd like to get phone over the Internet." But over the past decade, Ms. Jonart said, a lack of viable on-the-ground options has left Butte, like thousands of other school districts, struggling with Internet connections far too slow to take advantage of the digital revolution in K-12 education. "We had to do it ourselves," she said. "We didn't have any other choice." Fiber is generally regarded as the fast- est, most reliable, and most adaptable vehicle for satisfying schools' huge appetite for more bandwidth, but only about 40 percent of U.S. districts are believed to have direct fiber connections to an Internet service pro- vider, based on the most recently available data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Many districts have also struggled to establish internal fiber connections among all of their schools. Experts say changing those realities is the surest way to realize President Barack Obama's goal of bringing highspeed Internet connections to nearly every school within five years. But because installing fiber-optic cable entails significant upfront costs, large telecommunications companies have declined to build out such networks in many rural and remote sections of the country, leaving districts such as Butte with few existing options to tap. Making matters worse, districts are prohibited from using federal E-rate funds to build and manage their own fiber connecPAGE 12> TFA Alumni Groomed For Leadership Roles By Stephen Sawchuk A spinoff of the controversial Teach For America teacher-placement program has expanded rapidly in recent months, pursuing a goal both specific and dizzyingly broad: helping TFA's 32,000 alumni rise to civic-leadership roles. Leadership for Educational Equity has grown from just a handful of staff members a few years ago to nearly 60 today. The Washington-based group, known as LEE, now boasts a $3.9 million annual budget. In 2011, it launched a series of national workshops for TFA alumni eyeing careers in policy and advocacy, and in 2013 expanded it to include community organizing. The ambitions of LEE are bolder, though, than to serve as a development center of sorts for those PAGE 10> MORE ADVOCACY NEWS: Read how new organizations are enlisting parents in the school-choice movement. PAGE 6 Jeremy Lurgio for Education Week

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 15, 2014

Education Week - January 15, 2014
Renewals of Education Laws Languish in Congress
Cities Take Lead on Expanding Early Education
TFA Alumni Groomed For Leadership Roles
New Crop of Advocacy Groups Sets Sights on Parents
USDA Opts to Keep in Place More-Flexible Lunch Rules
Federal Guidance Urges Schools to Shift From ‘Zero Tolerance'
Districts Get Creative to Speed Up Internet
U.S. ‘Learning Registry’ Working to Tailor Online Content
Some Waiver States Struggle in Key Areas, Ed. Dept. Says
Calif. Rolls Toward Implemention On Overhauled K-12 Funding Formula
N.Y. Governor Aims to Boost School Tech.
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Blogs of the Week
Blogs of the Week
State of the States
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
ERICH MAY: The Motivation Gap
GENE I. MAEROFF: Cultivating Hope In Struggling Smaller Cities
FREDERICK M. HESS: The 2014 Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings
MIKE SCHMOKER: Education’s Crisis of Complexity

Education Week - January 15, 2014