Education Week - January 16, 2013 - (Page 19)

EDUCATION WEEK n JANUARY 16, 2013 n 19 POLICY BRIEF tion employees and is affiliated with both the National Education Association and the aft. “The bullet we dodged was the commission jumping on the bandwagon of alleged reformers who are taking us down misguided directions,” said Mr. Iannuzzi, citing a school voucher program passed in Louisiana and a tax-credit scholarship program in Florida as two examples of such “gimmicks” in policy. Still, nysut’s “glass half empty” members, Mr. Iannuzzi added, were concerned that the proposed changes in policy would either not be funded adequately or would siphon off enough K-12 state aid that they would damage other classroom work. “More needs to be said about the equitable funding of education in New York,” he said. Although documents related to the extended learning time proposal say such initiatives would be funded by a competitive grant program, in his speech, Mr. Cuomo said if school districts choose to expand their learning time, the state would pick up the entire cost for the district as an incentive. He was not as explicit, however, as to whether the state would pay for the salary increases in the master-teacher program. Other practical complexities of implementing changes like extending the school day should not be overlooked, noted David Albert, a spokesman for the Latham, N.Y.-based New York State School Boards Association. “There’s also a community component. Will parents support that move?” he said. Harsher Critics But harsher critics of the commission’s recommendations say that given a chance to propose more fundamental K-12 changes to Mr. Cuomo, its members ducked. “Instead, what he got was a pack of watereddown reforms, all good ideas, mind you, but nothing dramatic that’s going to increase student achievement and dramatically reform the state’s educational system, which is needed,” said B. Jason Brooks, a spokesman for the Clifton Park, N.Y.-based Foundation for Education Reform and Accountability, which supports “parent trigger” legislation, more charter school options, and tax credits for private school tuition. Mr. Brooks took some solace in the fact that the commission is set to release final recommendations in the fall. But he said Mr. Cuomo—widely eyed as a 2016 presidential candidate—may have missed a chance to become the Democratic version of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a prominent Republican in education policy circles. Evaluation System Separately, the state has made progress on a significant, if controversial policy initiative from last year involving teacher evaluations. As of Jan. 2, and with a Jan. 17 deadline looming, 533 of 682 districts had their evaluation plans approved by the state education department, and only nine had not submitted plans at all. Districts that miss the deadline could lose state aid increases. Approval of the evaluation plans is necessary to satisfy conditions attached to the $700 million federal Race to the Top grant the state received in 2010. Although Mr. Cuomo said the state’s approach to teacher evaluations had proved successful, as of Jan. 10, New York City teachers had still not reached a deal with city education department officials on an evaluation plan. Mr. Cuomo also connected schools to tougher gun-control policies he plans to pursue this year. Specifically, he said that he wants stiffer penalties in state law for those who bring guns on school grounds. Md. Gets Scolding Over Race to Top Fiscal Realities Dog States By Andrew Ujifusa Washington The best strategies to forge stronger connections between education and states’ economies during lingering budget difficulties is “the question of the day for many states,” Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said in the first “State of the States” address on behalf of the National Governors Association here last week. The address was designed to highlight states’ “collective vision” and a review of current challenges states face, the nga said. Many students who dropped out of school, Mr. Markell, a Democrat, pointed out, had told him that “they believe that what they’re learning is not connected to what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives.” Both Gov. Markell and the nga’s vice chairwoman, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican elected in 2010, also told those at the Jan. 9 event that states continue to be concerned about the uncertain fiscal climate in Washington and that the possible automatic cuts in spending later this year totaling $1.2 trillion make their work for fiscal 2014 and beyond more difficult. “It’s hard for us as governors to be able to write a budget. ... It keeps having to be adjusted,” Ms. Fallin said at the event held in Washington. Mr. Markell said states’ budgets are “slowly recovering” after state officials cut $337 billion collectively over the past five years. Training Pipeline On the issue of links between education and the workforce, Ms. Fallin said Oklahoma lawmakers are examining the STATE of the STATES Here are summaries of recent annual addresses by governors around the country. NEW HAMPSHIRE GOV. MAGGIE HASSAN (D) • JAN. 3 In her inaugural address at her swearing-in ceremony, Gov. Maggie Hassan noted a desire to reverse course on spending cuts affecting education over the past few years. “It hurt our young people and, if not quickly addressed, will impair our future economic prosperity,” she said in prepared remarks. She urged the state’s university system to boost the number of students admitted and freeze in-state tuition. Ms. Hassan, the daughter of educators and the wife of the head of Phillips Exeter Academy, a private, college-preparatory school, applauded the state’s community college system for its adaptation to the needs of New Hampshire residents who choose paths other extent to which degrees and certificates match what the actual needs in the labor market are, and also trying to ensure that a high school diploma signifies that graduates have certain useful skills in the economy. Mr. Markell asked that federal lawmakers restore the 15 percent of federal funding in the Workforce Investment Act that can be used at the discretion of states, for example, to set up a training “pipeline” between public schools and manufacturing jobs. Mr. Markell stressed that the new Common Core State Standards (adopted by 46 states in English/language arts and by 45 states in math) would be “higher, cleaner, and fewer” and benefit students and teachers. The common core was developed by the nga and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Biggest Challenge Asked about the biggest challenge in putting the common core into effect, Mr. Markell said that implementing the new standards at the classroom level would take a lot of work. He also downplayed political and ideological opposition to the common core, saying that states have been free to adopt or not adopt it. In his prepared remarks, Mr. Markell also said governors whose states had won Race to the Top grants from the U.S. Department of Education were attempting to share what they had learned “so that we can strengthen all of our public schools.” In response to a question about gun control in the wake of the school shootings Dec. 14 in Newtown, Conn., both governors stressed the need for schools to review security plans and make sure first responders have relevant information. Ms. Fallin, however, said her state would continue to “respect our Second Amendment rights.” than traditional universities. “We must continue to support their efforts to build the strong workforce that our businesses need,” she said. She specifically mentioned that the state must work with the education system and the business community to ensure a “robust and rigorous education” for all students, including in stem fields, noting the state’s colleges and universities’ goal of doubling the number of science, technology, engineering, and math graduates by 2025. “We should embrace that goal and make achieving it a state priority,” she said. —NIRVI SHAH NEW JERSEY GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R) • JAN. 8 In a year dominated by the Garden State’s efforts to recover from Hurricane Sandy, education had a low profile in Gov. Chris Christie’s third State of the State address. The Republican executive made sure, however, to highlight his work last year to expand school choice and to rework teacher tenure. Despite “entrenched resistance,” Mr. Christie said, the state passed “the first major reform of tenure in PAGE 20 > Add Maryland to the list of Race to the Top states that have gotten into trouble with the U.S. Department of Education. In a sternly worded letter from the Education Department to Maryland last month, federal officials placed several major conditions on $37.9 million of the state’s $250 million Race to the Top grant. If the state fails to make good on conditions tied to its teacherevaluation system, it risks losing that part of the grant. “The department is concerned about the overall strategic planning, implementation, and evaluation of the state’s teacher- and principalevaluation system, including the quality of the [school year] 2011-2012 seven-lea pilot as well as communication with and supports provided to participating leas,” the letter says. (Leas are local education agencies.) The Dec. 6 letter approves several changes to Maryland’s Race to the Top plan. But it indicates that federal officials have major concerns about the capacity of school districts to implement these evaluations and the shift away from using test data as one component of educator evaluations at the high school level. ■ Letters like these are meant to send a warning signal both to state officials and to the public. “They are making a relatively significant shift in their approach,” said Ann Whalen, who oversees Race to the Top implementation, in an interview. “As they put these changes into action, we will look to them to be thoughtful about how they execute their work.” Maryland had to turn in by Jan. 7 a plan for how it is field-testing and evaluating its teacher-evaluation pilot. And it met that deadline, said state schools Superintendent Lillian Lowery, the former Delaware chief who inherited Maryland’s plan when she became its chief in July. (She replaced longtime chief Nancy Grasmick.) By the time Ms. Lowery assembled her Race to the Top team in October, the state was six to 10 months behind schedule. “We had to take a plan that was conceptual and put it in high gear to get it on track,” she said in an interview. Now, the state is working quickly to field-test its teacherevaluation plan and get outside experts on board to help evaluate how it’s working.  —MICHELE McNEIL

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 16, 2013

Education Week - January 16, 2013
Is Education Facing a ‘Tech Bubble’?
Multiple Gauges Best for Teachers
Model Common-Core Unit Piloted for ELL Teachers
Gun Concerns Personal for Duncan
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Fla. Data Link Suspension To Lower Graduation Rates
Anti-Poverty Program Found To Fall Short In Studies
New Science-Standards Draft Incorporates Feedback
With Common Core in Mind, Schools Turn to E-Rate
Survey Tool Aims for Fresh Eye On Parents
Study Dissects Gender Effects In Math Teaching
Funders and N.C. District Team Up To Run Schools
Blogs of the Week
State of the States
N.Y.’s Cuomo Moves Ahead On K-12 Ideas
Crush of Ed. Laws Awaiting Renewal In Congress
Fiscal Realities Dog States
Policy Brief
R. BARKER BAUSELL: Putting Value-Added Evaluation To the (Scientific) Test
GARY HUGGINS: It’s Time for Summer Learning
JEFF CAMP: Let’s Remove Self-Righteousness From the K-12 Debate
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
MIKE ROSE: Giving Cognition a Bad Name

Education Week - January 16, 2013