Education Week - March 27, 2013 - (Page 23)

EDUCATION WEEK n MARCH 27, 2013 GOVERNMENT & POLITICS By Andrew Ujifusa The push for the “parent trigger” option for turning around struggling schools continues, with new laws under consideration in about a dozen states’ legislative sessions, even as such laws already on the books remain unused in all but one of the seven states that have them. Many education advocates opposed to what they view as efforts to privatize and corporatize public schools are watching with trepidation as lawmakers in Florida ,, Oklahoma, and elsewhere review parent-trigger bills. Opponents argue that the mechanism ultimately hurts schools and ruptures communities. w In some cases, however, detractors have succeeded in stopping parent-trigger bills dead in their tracks. A measure that had appeared headed for approval in the Georgia state legislature faltered late last week when gop lawmakers raised concerns that it could pit teachers—who would be able to petition a school board for a takeover by a charter operator or initiate another turnaround intervention— 23 Extra Time Weighed For 12 RTT Winners against their own principals. The legislation had the backing of top state lawmakers, but was opposed by a variety of public education groups, including the state teachers’ union. Meanwhile, at least three other states—California, Indiana, and Texas—were also considering revisions to their existing parent-trigger laws. Those in favor of the laws reject the critics’ assertions but also caution supporters not to expect a flood of trigger petitions in the near future. Many parents may have to get used to the idea that, through laws that let them initiate a PAGE 27 > School Angles Seen in Same-Sex-Marriage Cases By Mark Walsh For Kristin M. Perry and Sandra B. Stier, the schools their children have attended have been one more place to be involved parents and a visible same-sex couple. “I have been a pta president and I volunteered in the classroom all the time,” said Ms. Perry, who noted that the family of two lesbian mothers and four boys—ages 18 to 24—has had mostly positive experiences in the liberal enclave of Berkeley, Calif. “On a couple of occasions, I can remember a child would say a homophobic thing to one of our kids, and the teacher would use that as a teachable moment,” she added. “We are in a part of the world, on purpose, where we get a pretty positive response as a family.” The U.S. Department of Education will consider, on a case-by-case basis, granting the original 12 Race to the Top winners an extra year to finish their work. Next school year was set to be the fourth and last year for the Race to the Top program, the $4 billion education redesign competition for states financed under the economic-stimulus package passed by Congress in 2009. But delays have plagued many winning states as they seek to make good on their promises, and states have been slow to spend their money. More than three years into the grants, the dozen winners— 11 states and the District of Columbia—have used less than half their money, Education Department records show. The department will consider “no-cost extensions”—meaning states won’t get any additional money to finish their plans, just extra time—between now and January. Liz Hafalia/San Francisco Chronicle-File n California Challenge Still, Ms. Perry, 50, and Ms. Stier, 48, would like to be married. They are one of two couples who sued to challenge California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative narrowly passed in 2008 that withdrew the right to same-sex marriage in that state. “When we go to a high school football game, the [straight] couples around us are talking about an upcoming anniversary or a mother-inlaw visiting,” Ms. Stier said. “Because we’re not married, we’re excluded from some of the most common social constructs and from one of the core institutions of our society.” This week, the U.S. Supreme Court takes up their case, Hollingsworth v. Perry (No. 12-144), which asks whether California’s limitation of marriage to a man and a woman violates the equalprotection clause of the U.S. Constitution. In a second case, United States v. Windsor (No. 12-307) the justices will weigh the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, or doma, which defines marriage for purposes of federal law and benefits as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” Among the scores of briefs filed by POLICY BRIEF ‘Parent Trigger’ Laws Catching Fresh Wave New state-level bills prove no less divisive n Plaintiff Sandra Stier, center, listens to her partner, Kristin Perry after a court hearing in June 2011 that challenged California’s Proposition 8, which limits marriage to a man and a woman. The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a pair of cases on the same-sexmarriage issue. parties and “friends of the court” on different sides of those cases are several that address same-sex marriage and the schools. The issues include schools’ treatment of same-sex parents and their children, the impact of the debate on gay students and on those who object to same-sex marriage on religious grounds, and the influence of the trend on the curriculum. In short, as with many other divisive social issues, the nation’s schools are part of the battleground over same-sex marriage. “Marriage rights for same-sex couples is one of the great American debates right now,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, a law professor and the director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. “As such, it has important consequences for American education.” legal status), according to a friend-of-the-court brief filed by Gary J. Gates, a scholar at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, law school. Almost one-fifth of same-sex couples are raising children— more than 125,000 households, with a total of 220,000 children under age 18, according to U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by Mr. Gates, a supporter of samesex marriage. Ms. Stier, who works in technology for a government agency in the San Francisco Bay Area, grew up on a farm in Iowa and had what she has described as a difficult marriage to a man for 12 years. She brought the two oldest boys into the relationship with Ms. Perry. Ms. Stier first met Ms. Perry in View of Households 1996, when both worked for the Nearly 1.3 million Americans same agency and were in a comare members of same-sex couples puter-training class together. Ms. PAGE 28 > (regardless of marriage or other Federal officials will consider the one-year extensions on a project-by-project basis and won’t give states blanket approval to take more time on all parts of their plans. States would have until July 1, 2015, to spend their money (versus summer 2014). No-cost extensions are customary with federal grants, and the Education Department had said that it would consider them at a later date—which has now arrived. Department officials say they will not grant significant deadline extensions—such as delaying implementation of a state’s new teacher-evaluation system— without a strong rationale. “We are still trying to hold them accountable to their commitments,” Ann Whalen, who oversees Race to the Top for the department, said of the grant winners. “But we don’t want them sitting on the money either.” Recent reports by the department show states are struggling, in particular, with upgrading and building new data systems and implementing teacher-evaluation systems. But the most pronounced reason states need more time, Ms. Whalen said, is that “comprehensive reform is difficult work.” The extension policy, she said, “gives them more time.” Even with a fifth possible year for states to finish their work, one firm deadline remains: Any unspent money reverts to the Treasury on Oct. 1, 2015. —MICHELE McNEIL

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 27, 2013

Education Week - March 27, 2013
N.Y.C. System School-Match Gaps Tracked
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Educators Questioning Timing of
Resident Teachers Are Getting More ‘Practice’
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Race to Top Districts ‘Personalize’ Plans
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Study Finds Gaps in ‘College Ready’ Math Offerings
Early-Algebra Push Found to Yield No NAEP Boost
Math Teachers Break Down Standards For At-Risk Students
More Teachers Group Students by Ability
San Diego Superintendent Pick Has Deep Parental Ties
Partnership Combines Science Instruction and English Learning
States’ Score Cards Pinpoint Problems Of School Climate
Experts: Later School Start Helps Sleep-Deprived Teens
Blogs of the Week
Project Aims to Expand Web Access
New NAEP Demands Application of Knowledge
Elementary Students Tackling Windmills
Policy Brief
'Parent Trigger’ Laws Catching Fresh Wave
School Angles Seen in Same-Sex-Marriage Cases
‘Sequester’ Cuts Still in Place Amid Budget Wrangling
Political Storm Rages as Acting N.M. Chief Presses on With Job
Congress Eyes Pre-K
REGIS ANNE SHIELDS & KAREN HAWLEY MILES: Want Effective Teachers? Think About Your Value Proposition
ALISON CROWLEY: Getting Rid of the GPS: Teaching the Common Standards in Math
STEPHEN R. HERR: Celebrating Without Accomplishing
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment
AMANDA GARDNER: The Many Keys To Radical Classroom Change

Education Week - March 27, 2013