Education Week - January 20, 2016 - (Page 1)

1 Education Week VOL. 35, NO. 18 * JANUARY 20, 2016 AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2016 Editorial Projects in Education * $ 4  BRE AKING NEWS DAILY ESSA Challenges Ahead for States New Realities: TFA at 25 Capacity of Ed. Agencies Faces Test Brandon Thibodeaux for Education Week By Daarel Burnette II History teacher Derrick Sanders, a first-year Teach For America corps member in Dallas, congratulates his students on a job well done. TFA marks its 25th anniversary this year amid a host of new initiatives that raise questions about its future course. State education agencies-often dismissed as poorly organized and thinly staffed clearinghouses-are about to get a big infusion of responsibility and authority with the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act. But it remains to be seen if those departments, most of which were hollowed out by staff and budget cuts during the recession, are up to the job. Under ESSA, the long-delayed revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, state departments will be charged with more of the hands-on work in a variThe New Federal K-12 Law ety of policy areas where the federal government increasingly called the shots in recent years. Some of the most important areas are holding schools accountable for overall quality, coming up with a way to evaluate teachers, and improving student outcomes. "It's like the dog that chases the car," said Patrick Murphy, a senior fellow and director of research at the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan think tank, who has studied state education INSIDE ESSA PAGE 22> 25 Years In, TFA Faces Tensions, Courts Change Dallas Images of molecules are bouncing around on Karen Cruz's computer-projector screen here at Wilmer-Hutchins High School as she begins her junior physics class. "Think of molecules like little kids," she says. "If your molecules have a lot of energy, they need a lot of space." As the lesson continues, Cruz puts up a complicated equation representing the combined gas laws and proceeds to walk students through word problems. The relative ease with which students hunker down to tackle them belies the fact that most of them arrived in her class without a good foundation in algebra. DIGITAL DIRECTIONS Open Ed. Resources Get Boost From ESSA By Sean Cavanagh Open educational resources, widely regarded as posing a challenge to commercial providers of academic content, have received a potentially major boost with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act. The sweeping federal law signed by President Barack Obama last month contains specific language that allows states and local education agencies to channel block grant money focused on technology toward open materials. The language in the law represents a significant milestone for open resources, said Reg Leichty, a founding partner at Foresight Law + Policy, a PAGE 10> On her first week on the job, Cruz had found that lack of preparation shocking, but that did not prevent her from addressing it. Determined that her students were going to learn physics, not some watered-down version, she integrated algebra exercises into the first 10 to 15 minutes of each class. Cruz, a first-year Teach For America corps member, exemplifies a lot of the characteristics that the organization purportedly embraces: She's driven, purposeful, capable of working through obstacles. She is also modest about her performance, fretting after the lesson about whether she included enough hands-on elements. "I think the way I was taught [was] really RELATED STORIES 13 T FA's Political Role Complex T he group's bona fides as a social-justice organization are fiercely contested. 14 C  ourse Gives Recruits Added Cultural Training Incoming corps members get lessons on diversity. 14 Efforts Aim to Keep TFA Teachers After Year Two TFA regional offices are experimenting with ways to boost retention. PAGE 12> Opt-Out Activists Eye Fresh Battlefronts By Andrew Ujifusa Activists driving the resistance to state exams are attempting to build on their momentum over the past year, while also venturing into a new political landscape that will test whether the energy behind their initial victories will last. And they say they're forging ahead with their plans regardless of how much support they get from traditional education advocacy groups, including teachers' unions. Several leaders within the so-called testing opt-out movement, which has gained considerable traction in New York and also found a foothold in states like Colorado and Connecticut, say they will continue to push parents to refuse to allow their children to take standardized exams, particularly state tests, for as long as it's necessary. They'll stop, they say, when states adopt accountability policies that prevent tests from being used to rank, sort, and impose what opponents consider unfair consequences on students, teachers, and schools. Flint, Mich., Reels From Water Crisis By Corey Mitchell Educators in Flint, Mich., have long taught students buffeted by the pressures of poverty and urban blight. Now, they're facing a new crisis: toxic tap water. City and school officials are dealing with the fallout of a contaminated-water crisis, after it was discovered several months ago that hundreds of children in the financially strapped city have high levels of lead in their blood, in part because of the state's decision to switch Flint's water supply. Nearly two years ago, while the city was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager, officials decided to save money by switching its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, a tributary with water so corrosive that General Motors didn't want it used at its engine plant in the city. The cost-cutting move introduced lead and iron PAGE 9> Jake May/The Flint By Stephen Sawchuk ESSA's Impact Some groups also are looking to extend their influence beyond testing fights to push in states for higher and more equitable levels of school funding and changes to K-12 governance to increase what they say is more local and more democratic control. Like other education-focused advoPAGE 22> Kyaira Donald, 6, gets her finger poked to test her blood for lead levels, at Freeman Elementary School in Flint, Mich., last week.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - January 20, 2016

Education Week - January 20, 2016
ESSA Challenges Ahead for States
25 Years In, TFA Faces Tensions, Courts Change
Flint, Mich., Reels From Water Crisis
Opt-Out Activists Eye Fresh Battlefronts
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Open Ed. Resources Get Boost From ESSA
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Book Highlights Practical Guidance For Teaching Reading
College Testing Season Marred By Score Delays, Snafus
Blogs of the Week
Unions on Defensive as High Court Hears Dispute Involving Fees
In Home Stretch, Obama Vows to Push On Education Priorities
Ed. Dept. Gets Advocates’ Views On Preparing ESSA Regulations
DONALD M. FEUERSTEIN: The ‘Inconvenient Truth’ of Student Debt
JAMES LYTLE: The NCAA’s Chokehold On Secondary Schooling
FLORINA RODOV: Your College Essay Isn’t a Selfie
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
RICHARD WEISSBOURD: College Admission 2.0: Service Over Self

Education Week - January 20, 2016